WeCompare: Understanding Broadband Latency

Apr 22 . 6 m

Young woman looks in frustration at laptop screen

Understanding Broadband Latency

For decades we heard about (and fought for) higher internet speed. Now, in 2021 the demands are even higher due to the multitude of devices under one roof. A new term to be aware of on the broadband block is low latency. You might be thinking, huh? But don’t worry, we are about to bring you up to speed.

When speaking about broadband, we tend to hear a lot about lag. Latency, often referred to as lag, is apparent when buffering happens, web pages take forever to load, and an overall sluggish response time. We are all familiar with the feelings of impatience and frustration caused by a laggy connection. So, we will dig deep to give you a strong understanding of what latency is, how it affects your day-to-day, and some of the most popular solutions to deal with the issue.

What is Latency?

Latency is the time delay for a packet of data sent from your device to reach the server and back again. For example, when you type comparison website Ireland in the search engine, the time tallied for the page to load is the latency. The time delay is calculated in milliseconds (ms) and the round trip time, or RTT, is often measured with a Ping.

Simply put, low latency equates to a smooth browsing experience, optimal gameplay, and seamless HD streaming. On the other hand, high latency can result in significant delays when loading a web page or sending an email with large attachments.

Broadband latency info graphic

How Can I Test Latency?

You can test your ping by running a speed test right here! Or, if you prefer, you can run a ping test from Windows.

If you would like to monitor your ping, follow the steps below:

  • Open your command prompt. You can do this by typing cmd into the Windows search box.
  • Once you have opened the command prompt application, type ping 8.8.8.8 into the black window and press enter.
  • The computer will then ping 8.8.8.8 with four packets of data. Next, you will see the results of how long each packet took to reach its destination.
  • The ping times are visible on the image and are highlighted in the yellow box. The figures should stay within range but may fluctuate depending on variables like connection faults or the amount of data being transferred over the connection.

What Causes Latency?

Many things can cause high broadband latency. Some may be out of your control, like the weather, network congestion, packet loss, or your geographical location and physical distance to the server. Other causes include insufficient bandwidth, outdated hardware, and wireless interference.

 

What is the Difference Between Broadband Speed, Bandwidth, and Latency?

Broadband speed is the speed at which information can travel between your device and the internet. Bandwidth refers to the volume of data uploaded or downloaded from your device to the web in a specific period. Without substantial bandwidth, data can get backed up, similar to the flow of bathwater draining once you pull the plug. Latency measures the time delay between when the action and the result.

What Level of Latency is Good for Gaming?

Low latency is ideal for gaming since it directly affects your response time. The higher the broadband latency, the longer it takes for the game to react. If you are playing competitively online with a 250 ms latency against a competitor playing with 30 ms, it will be impossible to keep up. Your opponent will be reacting before you can even assess the situation.

We want faster speeds when it comes to broadband, but the opposite is true when it comes to your ping rate. Ping time and latency are often used interchangeably. However, latency is the round trip time, and the ping will measure the time it takes for the message to send and reach its destination.

Unsure of your ping? Take our Irish-based broadband speed test! You will receive your download and upload speeds as well as your ping. Furthermore, by allowing your location, we will select the server closest to you for an accurate result.

An excellent ping, or low ping, is around 20ms (milliseconds). Anything between 40ms to 80ms is ideal for making video calls or TV streaming.

If you would like to learn more about packet loss and latency in gaming, have a look at our blog about Ping Spikes and How to Manage Lag.

Can High Broadband Latency Affect Video Calls?

If you work remotely or use video calls to connect with your family and friends, then you know that a good quality video call is EVERYTHING. High latency can affect your video to freeze up or issues with the audio syncing. Moreover, insufficient bandwidth can also affect the streaming quality.

Another irritating byproduct of high latency occurs when browsing the web. Remember those times that it takes what seems like forever to load the webpage? Like when we’re convinced that the internet is down? Which, of course, tends to load quickly whenever you try and show someone else. Blame latency!

Which Irish Broadband Provider has the Lowest Latency?

Thankfully, when comparing Irish broadband providers, latency is not something that should be of concern. The difference between providers is marginal, but there is a distinction between the broadband types. Both cable and fibre broadband connections will ensure a lower latency than satellite internet, which reports the highest level of latency.

Do you have fibre broadband? You can browse the best fibre broadband plans in Ireland right here!

What can you do to Reduce Network Latency?

There are a few things that you can do to improve your broadband speed before jumping ship to another provider. Simple changes like the position of your router within the house and a quick reboot can do wonders. Want to know more? Read our ten ways you can improve your broadband speed.

Once you have exhausted all avenues, and remain unsatisfied, use a comparison website like ours to ensure that you find the best deals in Ireland.

Takeaway

Low latency is key to ensure a great online experience. While latency is a matter of fact for online activities, low latency makes transfers almost instantaneous, and delays should be barely detectable.

While the terminology can get confusing, once you understand the ins and outs of broadband, you’ll be on the right track to troubleshoot your home setup. Thus, maximising the plan that you pay for.

Have you tested your broadband speed yet?

 

WRITTEN BY

Zoe Theofilou