Network Latency

Last updated: May 9, 2012

What Does Network Latency Mean?

Network latency is the term used to indicate any kind of delay that happens in data communication over a network. Network connections in which small delays occur are called low-latency networks whereas network connections which suffers from long delays are called high-latency networks.

High latency creates bottlenecks in any network communication. It prevents the data from taking full advantage of the network pipe and effectively decreases the communication bandwidth. The impact of latency on network bandwidth can be temporary or persistent based on the source of the delays.


Techopedia Explains Network Latency

Possible contributors to network latency include:

  • Problems with the transmission medium itself.
  • Errors with the router or switches as each gateway takes time to examine and change the packet header.
  • Anti-virus and similiar security processes by often requiring complete message reassembly and tear down before sending on.
  • The propagation time or the time it takes for a packet to physically travel from its source to a destination.
  • Storage delays when packets are subject to storage or disk access delays at intermediate devices like switches and bridges.
  • Software malfunctions at the user level can cause some delays from a user perspective.
Network latency can be tested through ping tests and traceroutes. Most of the time, a packet's round-trip time is measured. With the help of this analysis, network administrators can re-route packets to minimize the network latency.

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