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Latency or Response Delay Time explained.

You might have heard the term ‘low latency’ or ‘latency’ when someone is talking about broadband speeds and it is a feature that is important to consider when choosing a new ISP if you have certain requirements.

Latency is most important for serious online gamers and issues with latency can mean the difference between winning and losing to that speed ninja over in Utah!  

Latency can impact online gamers considerably, the typical problem being that the delay causes those with high latency to be shot before they see the shooter with a lower latency.  Sometimes this delay can be considerable, especially on international links and as we’re in New Zealand we have a bigger physical distance to take into consideration so it is important.

When a computer or device asks for a file or webpage from a remote server, eg The BBC sport page found through, the delay for a response from the BBC server is called Latency.  This latency time usually gets bigger with a greater distance, but likewise it can also be the server causing the delay.  Depending on the sites you visit most often or where you are connecting latency becomes a bigger consideration.

Broadband providers do have some level of control on latency and they can influence the level of latency by choosing shorter links or routes to the servers and by avoiding sending packets of information over repeat routes (e.g. Christchurch to Auckland and return) or by a system known as peering, which is linking up with other local ISPs at a local interconnect point.

As we mentioned, latency is really only a ‘big deal’ for gamers and then choosing an ISP with very low latency is critical (some of the best gamer focussed providers in New Zealand are MyRepublic and Orcon), but latency can also impact people who use Voice over IP (Skype or Internet telephones) on a regular basis – the ‘echo’ and delayed conversations are the result of latency issues.

Need more advice? Contact the team.


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