What is network latency? | Corporate Network Planet

Along with network packet jitter and loss, corporate network latency can have a big impact on user experience, especially in an era when end users have grown accustomed to low latency.

Consumers are more aware of latency because their increased activity on the Internet allows them to discuss and evaluate it. Therefore, to ensure that fast speeds and a positive user experience are maintained, it is essential to ensure as little latency as possible.

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What is network latency?

The total time required by a server and a client to complete a network data exchange is called network latency.

A number of complex network transactions are required when clients send requests to servers over the Internet. These transactions can involve sending a request to a local gateway, then the gateway uses a series of routers to route the request through load balancers and firewalls until it arrives at the server. Therefore, a request path takes a long time to complete.

High latency is becoming more common as networks grow daily. Troubleshooting network issues is also becoming more complex due to the rise of cloud and virtualized resources, remote and hybrid working, and businesses running multiple applications.

Long delays caused by high latency networks cause communication bottlenecks and ultimately reduce communication bandwidth. This results in poor app performance, as the negative user experience can cause users to stop using an app altogether.

There are several ways to measure network latency: time to first byte (TTFB) and round trip time (RTT). Time to first byte is the time taken for a server to receive the first byte of a client request, while round trip time is the time it takes to send a request and receive a response from the server.

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What causes network latency?


The distance between the client and the server has an impact on latency. If a device making requests is 200 miles away from a server responding to those requests, it will receive a faster response compared to requests made to a server 2,000 miles away.

Transmission media

The difference between high and low latency can result from the choice of transmission medium. The characteristics and limitations of a transmission medium can influence latency. For example, even though fiber optic networks experience latency at every step, they offer lower latency compared to most transmission media.

In addition, data may have to travel over different transmission media before responding to customer requests. Switching between different transmission media can introduce additional milliseconds into the total transmission time.


Data being transmitted over the Internet often traverses multiple points where routers process and route data packets. These dots can add a few milliseconds to the RTT because routers take time to parse the information in a packet’s header. Each interaction with a router introduces an additional hop for a data packet, contributing to increased latency.

Domain Name System (DNS) server errors

A misconfigured DNS server can have a serious impact on network latency. In addition to causing long wait times, faulty DNS servers can completely prevent access to an application.

Poorly optimized backend databases

Overused databases can introduce latency into applications. Failure to optimize databases to be compatible with a wide range of devices can lead to significant latency and, therefore, a poor user experience.

Storage times

Intermediate devices such as bridges and switches can cause delays when they access or store data packets.

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How to Reduce Network Latency

Good network latency implies that a network can maintain a good connection, regardless of the volume of user data communicated to the server. Below are some techniques to reduce network latency to an acceptable level.

Content Delivery Network

Because the distance between servers responding to requests and clients making requests impacts latency, using a content delivery network (CDN) makes resources more accessible to end users by bringing them into hides in several places around the world. This allows user requests to be forwarded to the point of presence to access data instead of always returning to the origin server, allowing for faster data retrieval.

Advanced Computing

A key factor influencing latency is the transmission of data over a distance. Having processing tasks at the edge of a network eliminates the need for having to transmit data to a central server. Edge computing use cases, such as edge data centers, drive more responsive applications and services while reducing network latency for their users.

Network monitoring

Constant network monitoring is essential, as it ensures that network teams identify and address bottlenecks in their networks. These teams can use network monitoring tools to identify and manage network latency issues.

Creating Subnets, Traffic Shaping, and Bandwidth Allocation

Creating subnets can reduce latency on networks because it allows network teams to group endpoints that frequently communicate with each other. Traffic shaping and bandwidth allocation techniques should also be considered to improve the latency of business-critical networks.

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