What is latency and how does it affect my communications?

9 February 2022 Tags:

Whenever you face issues with intermittent signals making a VoIP call, or encounter delays to load webpages, chances are that latency might be one of the root causes negatively impacting your internet connection. In this article, we will talk about latency and focus on the impact it may have on your SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) communication. We will also provide tips to help you minimize network issues to ensure your connection with servers is always at peak performance.

Latency: Basic concept and information

Network latency refers to the length of time that a specific network request or a packet of information (please refer to our latest blog for more on packet protocols) takes to travel from one place to another, namely, from your computer to a server.

We can understand latency as the time a request made from your web browser takes to arrive at the server hosting website you try to reach. In SIP telephony, latency is the duration of time a request made from your IP Phone, softphone, or PBX takes to reach our servers. As a result, as latency increases, so do the chances of negative communication issues.

There is not an ideal recommended latency, as it may vary according to the type of internet connection one uses, however for optimum performance it is important to keep latency at its minimum levels, which ensures that the packets of information transferred from your device arrive faster at its destination.

Let us take 4G or LTE connections as an example, the optimal latency value for those connection speeds sit around 50ms (1/1000 of a second). Meanwhile, the latency that will result in optimum speed between your local network and your ISP’s network should be below 200ms to establish a high-quality connection.


Possible Causes

Now that we understand the basics of latency, we can dig a bit deeper into the probable causes leading to high latency. One of the factors that can impact in a network connection, is the transportation medium the packets of information traveling from your device to the server of destination are traveling on.

Considering the immense physical distance from where a connection request starts to its destination, we might expect that when traveling these packets of information must switch from optic fiber to copper cables and vice-versa, this commute from light waves to electrical signals might affect the connectivity quality.

Moreover, the length of distance may also have an impact, the further the destination, the higher the likelihood of higher latency. Another factor that may impact is what is known as storage delays, meaning that when a connection reaches its destination, regardless of the distance and mediums it used to travel, the destination might have delay issues when it comes to accessing the storage medium where your information is located, potentially adding few more milliseconds to the equation.

Let us not forget about the connection load during the moment a connection request is initiated. If network bandwidth is simultaneously occupied by multiple connections, these multiple connections will also increase latency. If network bandwidth is simultaneously occupied by multiple connections, these multiple connections will also increase it. It is worth mentioning that as the number of routers a connection must pass en route to its destination server, the latency might increase.

How Network Latency Can Affect VoIP Connections

When it comes to Voice Over IP technology, a high latency value will affect the quality of the voice communication quality. For example, if a user in New York City decides to connect to a server in Australia, chances are that because of the factors highlighted in the previous paragraph, the latency will be higher and the call quality poorer. Also, if a user is trying to access the same network multiple users sharing the call quality will likely be impacted. It is possible to avoid this sort of problem by having enough bandwidth in the network to manage a high volume of information exchange during peak upload and download times.


Tips to troubleshoot common problems that lead to high latency

In addition to requesting your ISP for a bandwidth increase at the location where you are connecting from, there are other implementable measures to minimize possible high latency issues. The first one is to add real-time monitoring tools to your network, to ensure that there are no leaks on the source of the communication requests or that specific peers on your network are not occupying an excessive percentage of your network’s bandwidth.

Another great alternative is to run tests from ethernet connections instead of Wi-Fi since Wi-Fi connections can be subject to issues and intermittency due to the interference of other devices in your location. Also, all your network components must have updated firmware to ensure all devices are working with the latest technology available, which may also minimize any data loss or delay in your communications.


If you still face any issues affecting your call quality our Support Team will always be more than glad to assist you to identify the root causes of the problems, simply join us for a live chat session or directly send your inquiry to our support email: [email protected]. We will love to help!


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