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Understanding Internet Latency: Why It Matters to You

Understanding Internet Latency: Why It Matters to You

The Internet is now part of our everyday lives, but do you know the important metrics of your Internet connection?

You might understand terms such as download speed, data rate, and encryption - but what about latency?

When you perform an internet speed test, you help uncover the actual download and upload speeds of your network. When displaying the results of the test, you may see the words ‘latency’ or ‘ping’ alongside your download speed rating. Internet download speed is measured in mbps (megabits per second), whereas latency is measured in milliseconds. 

But what is latency? Let’s uncover all you need to know about latency in this ultimate guide.

What Is Latency?

Latency, otherwise known as lag, delay, or ping, is a measure of the speed of your internet connection. Latency is a measurement of the speed of a small packet of data transferred from your device to the closest server from your internet provider and back again.

Often latency is measured in milliseconds, and it is common in today’s connected world to have fast internet speeds and low latency times. Sometimes there could be an issue with your internet connection that increases latency time.


What's The Ideal Latency Speed To Aim For?

Lower latency numbers are always a good sign that your internet is fast, but your ideal latency speed ultimately depends on your needs. Typically, if you perform a speed test and your latency figure is below 100 ms then you have reasonable internet latency. A speed below 100ms results in an unnoticeable delay in the way you use the internet.

At 100ms, web pages typically load almost instantly, and video streams start within a few seconds. If the ping exceeds this threshold, you might begin to observe a noticeable delay or lag.

A good latency speed is a result of the network continuously being able to keep a strong connection, no matter how much data is being communicated back and forth.


Why Does Latency Matter?

You might think that latency does not affect your daily internet use, especially if you just have basic online needs.

Some of us may need quicker latency speeds because of the following reasons:

Online Gaming

Today’s fast-paced world of online gaming has extremely low latency requirements. Gamers require low latency to ensure minimal delays in the communication between their devices and game servers. Low latency results in faster response times, reducing input lag and providing a smoother gaming experience. This is crucial for activities like online multiplayer gaming as split-second decisions can make a significant difference, and high latency can lead to delays affecting gameplay and overall enjoyment.|

Video Calls

Low latency is essential for video calls as it ensures real-time communication with minimal delays. A low-latency connection allows for smooth and synchronized audio and video, enabling more natural and seamless conversations. High latency can cause disruptions, such as audio lag or frozen video frames, hindering the quality of the video call and making it challenging for participants to interact promptly.

Video Streaming

Low latency is essential for video streaming to deliver a seamless and uninterrupted viewing experience. It ensures that there is minimal delay between the user's request and then the content playing back. With low latency, videos start playing quickly, and users experience smoother streaming without annoying pauses or interruptions. This is especially important for live streaming events, where real-time interaction and engagement rely on swift data transmission.

How Is Latency Affected?

Having too many apps running or running lots of browser tabs can cause lag. Latency problems often occur from network congestion. Satellite internet tends to have higher latency because signals have to cover a considerable distance to the satellite, then to the nearest server, and back. On the other hand, fiber internet offers the lowest latency since data travels with minimal interference through glass fibers.

Various factors can impact latency. If multiple devices or users share a connection simultaneously, it can lead to slower ping rates. For instance, cable internet, which shares nodes in neighborhoods, can experience congestion - especially during peak hours when everyone is online.


How Do I Reduce Latency?

Internet latency speeds can be reduced in the following ways:

  • Reduce the Number of Active Devices: Lots of connections on the same network means that bandwidth is shared. This reduces latency speed and can hurt your internet experience.
  • Plug in an Ethernet Cable: Use an Ethernet cable for a direct connection. This eliminates the chance of Wi-Fi signals getting blocked and is the best way to make sure there's less delay.
  • Quitting Unnecessary Apps: Software or services might not be the cause of poor latency but quitting them may be good for your device’s overall speed.
  • Quality of Service (QoS) Settings: On your modem or router, you can configure your settings to give priority to video calls, gaming, or streaming services depending on the type of network traffic you are processing. This helps reduce latency when they are used.


What Low Latency Solutions Are Out There?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution but generally fiber internet, as it travels at the speed of light, is the lowest latency solution. Typical fiber connections have a latency between 10 and 12ms. DSL connections can have up to four times slower latency (11-40ms), and cable has around 13-27ms which is a slight improvement. Satellite connections have a much slower latency of around 600ms.

Latency also depends on the type of network and your internet service provider. Read on to find out how Nomad Internet is paving the way to a low-latency, high-speed future with C-Band technology.


Nomad Internet’s C-Band Low Latency Technology

C-band networks such as Nomad Internet are revolutionizing internet accessibility by tapping into the potential of a specific C-band spectrum. Unlike traditional frequencies used in cellular or satellite communications, this part of the C-band is less crowded, making it a game-changer for high-speed internet.

The C-band's sweet spot lies in its optimal balance between coverage and bandwidth. Nomad Internet strategically utilizes this spectrum, offering unlimited internet services that are not only far-reaching but also lightning-fast. Operating outside the congested frequencies of standard cellular and satellite communication. This translates to a more reliable connection, reducing the hassles of dropped signals or slow speeds.


Low Latency, it Could be Important.

Latency is a measure of the speed of your internet connection. Commonly referred to as ‘ping’ or ‘lag’, latency is measured in milliseconds. Fiber internet is the lowest latency solution currently on the market with typical latency speeds of 10-12 milliseconds.

Latency is not as important for everyday tasks such as browsing web pages, but it is more important for video calls, online gaming, and streaming content.

To improve latency for your connection consider reducing the number of devices on your network, quitting unnecessary apps, using an ethernet cable, and tapping into the Quality of Service (QoS) settings on your modem to prioritize certain network traffic such as gaming or streaming.

Overall, if your latency is below 100ms, and stays below this throughout your internet use, you have a suitable connection for everyday tasks.

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