What is Latency and Why Does it Matter?

06.16.2020 | Soliton Blog

three computer monitors sitting under a binary number pattern shaped in a globe

Many people rely on quick connections in their daily life. From working remotely to remote broadcasting, more people are using video streaming as a medium for their activities. But what determines the quality of their stream depends on how fast a connection is.

Generally, a primary factor is an internet connection speed. While most people have heard about bandwidth, not as many people are familiar with the term latency.

What Is Latency?

Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for information packets to travel from their connection point to their destination and come back. Essentially, latency is the speed of your connection. It works alongside many other factors to determine how "fast" your connection is.

Every network has some latency, but the lower this number is, the better. Our transmission for ZAO streaming products uses a proprietary algorithm, RASCOW, and H.265 video codec to assure the lowest latency possible. Generally without Soliton products, how low or high this number depends on many factors and varying network conditions. These conditions and factors can change the amount of latency on the same network at different times.

Long periods of latency are largely to blame for what consumers would call a "slow" network connection. But latency doesn't work alone in determining how fast or slow a connection is. Bandwidth also plays a significant role.

Latency vs. Bandwidth

When internet service providers market to consumers, they use bandwidth to measure how quick their service is. You'll rarely (or never) hear the term latency used in commercials or other advertisements. But this isn't precisely accurate.

Bandwidth refers to the maximum capacity of a connection, or how much data can be uploaded and downloaded at a time. Unlike latency, higher bandwidth numbers are better.

Latency and bandwidth work together to determine how fast information is received and sent. If you think of bandwidth as a highway, higher numbers mean more lanes. With more lanes available, more information can be sent and received at the same time.

Latency, in this scenario, is the speed limit. Assuming all traveling vehicles go precisely the speed limit, speed isn't increased simply because there are more lanes to travel. To make the cars go faster, you have to raise the speed limit, and this means creating better latency periods, which is what Soliton Systems does extremely well.

Why Is Latency Important?

Latency is important because it affects all factors, from the lag in your video stream to even sending emails and playing online games. It works hand-in-hand with bandwidth and other smaller factors to create your overall input speed.

If latency is high, it doesn't matter how large your bandwidth is. Information will still take longer to send and receive. All internet service providers should be aiming to lower their latency if they want customers to have an overall positive online experience.

Do You Have More Questions About Latency?

Latency is essential because it refers to how quickly information makes the round trip from its connection point to its destination and home. The lower the latency, the better. Which is why the ZAO-SH (the world's smallest) encoder is the best on the market.

Do you have more questions about what is internet latency? Contact us today. One of our associates would be happy to answer any questions you still have.