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Latency – What is it and why does it matter?

If you’re reading this – you’ve experienced latency (i.e. internet lag).

For most of us, latency won’t affect our video streaming, Spotify listening, or Instagram surfing. But if you game or use satellite internet, latency can have a big impact on your online experience. That’s when the Internet feels like it’s shifting in slooooow motion.

“If you game or use satellite internet, latency can have a big impact on your online experience.”

Latency is the time it takes for your action on a computer (or other connected device) to transmit through the internet and trigger something online to take place.

This could be doing a web search. Talking on a VoIP line or web conference. Or even playing an online video game.

The amount of latency your internet connection has will greatly impact your online experience.

Now, you might be thinking your ultra fast high-speed connection is immune to slow speeds – but that’s not necessarily the case. Bandwidth is NOT the same as latency, but it’s often how we associate how good a connection is.

As an example – let’s say you’re watching Netflix.

If your latency is high, you may find it takes a few seconds longer to do searches or wait for categories to load after selection. But, once you’ve selected a video, if the bandwidth is high you can easily stream HD video without issues.

Is that starting to make sense?

Latency is the speed it takes for your actions to be received, while bandwidth is the ability to send information quickly afterwards.

What is a Good Latency?

A lot of this depends on your unique needs, but typically anything under 100ms is reasonable.

If you’re a hardcore gamer, you may want something closer to 50ms or less

Other factors that contribute to latency

Now that we know what latency looks like in different connections, it’s good to understand what else could contribute to this issue.

1) Your Network or Router

If your home or office network is underpowered, or you’re using older equipment, you may experience high latency no matter what internet connection you have. Consider upgrading to a newer router like (eg. Our airCube AC) that is designed to handle many devices connected simultaneously and it’s managed by Apsis remotely.

2) Wireless Interference

If you live in a densely populated area, chances are you can see your neighbour’s Wifi show up while searching for a network. Your Wifi frequency may be overlapping with theirs causing interference and lag. Try switching your Wifi channel to help troubleshoot.

3) Traffic Load

If your internet connection is maxed out, it’s likely everything will run slowly. Try shutting down devices or streaming to improve speeds.

Testing Latency

If you’re curious, head over to Fast.com or Speedtest.net. A speed test will start and shortly after you see the result you’ll notice a button for “More Information”. This will give you a snapshot of how you stack up.


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