What Is Low Latency and How To Achieve It

In your business, it is likely that you have experienced slow network due to high traffic. This is what is called network latency or a lag. The term is used to describe delays in communication over a network, with latency referring to the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to travel over a network between sender and receiver.

Latency is measured in milliseconds (ms). Typically, in a Local Area Network (LAN), the latency is negligible, clocking in below 10ms. Small number of delays mean that your connection is experiencing lower latency and is what is referred to as a low-latency network. A high-latency network means long delays, which creates bottlenecks in communication – think of it like traffic on a four-lane highway trying to merge into a single lane.

So, what are the causes of network latency?

  • Distance: The further away the device making the request is from the servers responding to those requests geographically, the longer the delay will be. This is because data travelling back and forth across the internet often must cross multiple Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
  • Website Design: Webpages that need to load content from several third-party websites or has large files and media embedded may perform more slowly, as browsers need to download larger files first to display them.
  • End-User Issues: If your device is low on memory or CPU cycles to respond in a reasonable timeframe, it can cause Round Trip Time (RTT) latency. (Note: RTT refers to the amount of time it takes for a request to reach a client device.)
  • Physical Issues: Problems with physical cabling such as routers, switches and Wi-Fi access points or the presence of other network devices like application load balancers, security devices, firewalls, and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) can also influence latency.

Therefore, it is important to fix latency issues to keep it low, so applications will not experience connection timeouts with remote sites. This is even more crucial for machines that require remote control in real-time, such as a surgeon conducting a surgery remotely or a driver operating a crane or truck from a remote command center. Here are some simple dos and don’ts:

  • DO replace or add routers. If your business requires a lot of network users, make sure that your router is powerful enough to handle to load or you can also add another router to your network. Any router eventually bogs down if too many clients use it at the same time, causing lag.
  • DON’T download too many things simultaneously. Just like the previous point, depending on the speed of your connection, having too many simultaneous downloads can cause lag.
  • DO use a wired connection instead of wireless. Whenever possible, have your employees work over wired Ethernet instead of Wi-Fi because Ethernet supports lower latencies. While you may only save a few milliseconds saved in practice, wired connections also avoid the risk of interference that can result in significant lag.
  • DON’T use too many applications at once. Unless your business is using the latest and most powerful computers, try not to run too many applications run simultaneously as it may cause your devices to slow down. If you think you have too many programs open, close a few.
  • DO scan and remove malware. When a network worm hijacks a computer and its network interface, it can cause the device to perform sluggishly. Running antivirus software on devices connected to the network detects and removes these worms.
  • DON’T disable or delete the local cache. One way to reduce latency is to utilise caching in your browser, which is a way for the program to store recently used files so that you can load the same page quickly the next time you visit as no file download is necessary.

To sum things up, all computer networks inherently possess some form of latency. For example:

LAN: Below 10ms

Fixed Lines: Between 1ms to 20ms

VSAT: Between 500ms to 650ms

4G/LTE: Between 30ms to 100ms, depending on coverage

5G: Between 1ms to 20ms

As you can see, the amount varies and can suddenly increase for various reasons that may or may not be within your control. The impact of lag depends on what you’re doing on the network and the level of network performance that you’ve grown accustomed to. Generally, online applications perform best when network latency stays below 100 ms; any additional lag will be noticeable to users.

Experiencing high latency with your network? Contact EKTECH today to improve your network speed and reduce latency – and see your business perform much more efficiently!