Video and VoIP calls dropping out? Waiting all year (slight exaggeration) for your emails to arrive and web pages to load? Software sluggish? Your business could be impacted by high latency. Not sure what this is? Read on… 

One of the most common issues we encounter that affects our customers’ network performance is network latency. In this blog post, we aim to demystify what network latency is, how it impacts your online activities, and most importantly, share some tips on how to reduce it. 

What is Network Latency? 

Network latency refers to the time it takes for data to travel from its source to its destination. The time spent is measured in milliseconds (ms) and when it is ‘high’ it manifests as a delay or lag in loading web pages, buffering videos, lagging during online gaming, or delays in real-time communications. 

High latency in a network can be caused by a variety of factors, including the physical distance data must travel, the quality of the network connections, the amount of traffic on the network, and the efficiency of the devices handling the data. 

Why should you care about high latency? 

For businesses, high latency can mean slower response times in cloud services and challenges with communication technologies. For example, if emails are delayed, applications are performing poorly, and video and VoIP calls are unreliable, you probably need to address latency issues.  For remote workers, relying on domestic connectivity, they will be aware of high latency during their leisure time when it impacts the quality of streaming services and the responsiveness of online gaming; during working hours they may suffer from similar issues to the above. 

Common causes of high network latency 

  • Distance: the further data has to travel, the longer it takes. Data travelling between continents is likely to experience higher latency compared to local transmissions. 
  • Network congestion: like a crowded motorway, more data traffic can slow down everyone’s speed. Peak usage times can significantly impact latency. 
  • Type of connection: different types of internet connections (e.g., fibre vs. satellite) have inherently different latency characteristics. 
  • Hardware and infrastructure: outdated or poorly configured routers, switches, and other network equipment can contribute to higher latency. 
  • Server performance: the capacity and speed at which the destination server processes incoming requests also affects latency. 

Strategies to minimise network latency 

  • Optimise your network infrastructure: regularly update hardware and ensure your network configuration is optimised for the fastest performance. This includes using quality routers and switches, and ensuring that your firmware is up-to-date. 
  • Choose the right ISP: select an Internet Service Provider (ISP) known for reliable and speedy services. The choice of ISP can make a significant difference, especially if they offer fibre internet services, which typically provide lower latency than other types of connections. 
  • Reduce network traffic: strategically schedule high-demand bandwidth tasks during off-peak hours. Traffic shaping or prioritisation techniques can be used to manage bandwidth more efficiently and keep critical applications running smoothly – ask us about this. 
  • Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs): CDNs can reduce latency by storing cached copies of content closer to the user’s location. This is particularly useful for businesses that serve international customers. 
  • Monitor and manage your network: use network monitoring tools to keep an eye on your network performance and identify sources of latency. Regular monitoring helps in preempting potential issues before they affect your network’s performance. 
  • Educate your team and clients: understanding what actions contribute to latency can help in minimising unnecessary load on your network. Simple actions like limiting heavy downloads during critical operation hours can make a difference. 

Conclusion 

Latency is an integral aspect of network performance that directly impacts user experience and operational efficiency. By understanding its causes and implementing strategic measures to mitigate it, businesses and individuals can enjoy more reliable and responsive network services. 

At Net Primates our goal is to ensure that you have the fastest and most reliable access to the resources you need to succeed. Addressing network latency is a key part of our commitment to providing superior service. By staying proactive about network management, we help you pave the way for smoother, more efficient digital operations. 

We appreciate that the strategies to minimise network latency may seem a bit ‘techy’, so if you’re not confident to sort these issues we are here to help. Just get in touch and we’ll evaluate your network’s performance and make any recommendations we deem necessary to minimise latency and improve user experience.