Bandwidth is important in real time, both while working and using your home Internet connection. But latency – the time it takes to transfer a message or download your content – can also make all the difference in whether your connection crawls or flies.

Slow connection as a snail

Remember the old delays in telephone calls when they were transmitted by satellite? Maybe you don’t. But there are some ways latency issues resemble that old school problem, so it’s a useful illustration. Basically, when Internet protocols are relaying data and acknowledging the reception of packets of information, any delay can slow your system and cause a stutter.

An article recently published in Ars Technica explains the problem this way: “Just as we acknowledge what someone is telling us in conversation (with the occasional nod of the head, "uh huh," "go on," and similar utterances), most Internet protocols have a similar system of acknowledgement. They don't send a continuous never-ending stream of bytes. Instead, they send a series of discrete packets. When you download a big file from a Web server, for example, the server doesn't simply barrage you with an unending stream of bytes as fast as it can. Instead, it sends a packet of perhaps a few thousand bytes at a time, then waits to hear back that they were received correctly. It doesn't send the next packet until it has received this acknowledgement.”

The result is almost unworkable attempts at voice and video chats and conversations held on Skype. Or, as Gizmodo reports, a “second extra to load a web page sucks; a second stutter on YouTube is wildly annoying, but a second of latency with Skype make the whole thing practically useless. And that’s nothing to do with bandwidth, whatsoever.”

So what can you do about it? The good people at Ars Technica suggest methods to reconfigure your protocols at the application layer that can help. Pipelining, in which your Web browser can multitask while requesting files from the server, can also be adopted.

For more information on latency and a more detailed explanation of how to work around data delays, read the Ars Technica article here.

But you also can get help to improve your system. Use of traffic shaping algorithms can help you better manage your bandwidth by prioritizing uses. You can also call in the experts to manage your IT system. That's where we can help.

With scheduled onsite hours or on-call support as needed, ORAM can build, monitor, and manage your entire IT infrastructure, helping you to grow a smarter, faster business. If you'd rather let someone else handle your IT network so that you can stay focused on the business of managing your organization, get in touch with us. Don't wait another minute!