All About Ping, Latency, and Packet Loss

Whether you are playing online games, streaming/broadcasting videos online, talking to someone using Skype, Messenger, LINE, or similar messaging app, having a good latency and minimal packet loss is very important. With high latency and packet loss, your gaming, communication, or multimedia experience will suffer.

In this article, we are going to talk everything about ping, latency, and packet loss.

Ping, Latency, and Packet Loss

The importance of a good latency and low packet loss is very important for everyone who wishes to use the internet. We are going to cover the basics of these terms to help understand them better.

You might have noticed that we are only talking about having a good latency and lower packet loss and not about ping. So, what is ping? Ping is actually the method of sending a data packet from one computer to another in a network, then the sender measures the time it takes for the ping to go to the destination computer or server and back. The total time it takes to travel back and forth is called the latency.

Take a look at speedtest.net and try to measure your ping, download, and upload speed. Below is a sample speed test result that you can get:

You can see the ping is 12ms, the download speed is over 200Mbps and the upload speed is around 11Mbps.

Ping is actually a service that’s used to measure the latency, which in the case above, the network has a latency of 12ms and this is a very good value. Typically, a good latency should be under 100ms, which is sufficient for any kind of internet related tasks. On the other hand, a latency of 20-40ms is required for an excellent online gaming experience, especially RTS games like DOTA 2 and FPS games like Counter Strike.

Packet loss, on the other hand, can be measured using an online service like Freeola’s Line Test. Packet loss means that a packet doesn’t reach its intended destination and when a packet is lost, it will take additional time to resend the lost packet again.

Combined with high latency, a very high rate of packet loss is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone who is using the internet. Those who are watching YouTube videos, engaged in a live video chat, live streaming etc. can experience huge delays and lag. It’s even worse to gamers as this means that their commands (such as a keyboard or mouse input) will get massively delayed or not even get executed at all, resulting in an unfair advantage for their opponents.

Overall, a good latency and 0% packet loss will result in overall better experience when surfing the net or playing online games. To achieve this, make sure that you don’t have any other bandwidth-hungry devices, software or applications using the internet while you are streaming of playing an online game. If doing that still results in a poor latency and high packet loss, then it’s most likely a problem with your ISP, which in that case, you’d have to contact them directly about the problem.

DSL vs Cable Internet

DSL and cable modems are the two most popular internet technologies used by home users. If you are looking for your next ISP or if you are looking to change your internet plans or internet providers, then you’ve probably heard about DSL and Cable internet connections. What are the differences between the two? In this article, we are going to see the main differences between the two as well as their main advantage and disadvantages.

What is DSL Internet?

First, we are going to understand what they mean, first with DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line. It uses your phone line to access the internet – but don’t confuse it with dial-up. Unlike the latter, DSL doesn’t disconnect when you’re using a phone and it’s much faster. DSL internet is most often offered by telephone companies at a discounted bundle price which includes a landline. Therefore, if you need a landline and an internet connection, this may be an excellent choice.

What is Cable Internet?

Cable internet, on the other hand, transmits data using existing cable TV lines. Like DSL your Cable ISP will also provide you with a modem. Cable internet connection works by using a TV channel for data transmission. One channel is used for data downstream and another is used for data upstream. Like DSL, Cable internet is mostly offered by cable TV operators at a discounted bundle price which includes both internet and cable TV plans. If you want maximum entertainment, it might be the best choice.

Face-Off: Cable vs DSL

Cable internet is superior compared to DSL in terms of speed. While DSL can reach speeds of up to 100 Mbps, Cable can reach up to 300 Mbps, three times faster than DSL. However, in a real-world scenario, the speed advantage of cable internet is diminished, thanks to its “shared” nature. In most cases, the more people in your area are subscribed to the same Cable internet ISP, the slower your connection will be, especially during peak hours. DSL, on the other hand, isn’t heavily affected by the number of simultaneous users in your area, but expect to pay slightly higher monthly fees.

DSL Pros:

  • Provides faster speeds than dial-up
  • Doesn’t disconnect when someone is using your telephone
  • You get to have discounted landline fees (if purchased in a bundle but varies per provider)
  • More reliable than cable internet

DSL Cons:

  • The farther you are from the main office, the slower and more unreliable your connection will be
  • Slower upload speeds
  • Availability on remote areas may vary and is often unadvisable

Cable Pros:

  • Faster than DSL at times
  • Performance doesn’t suffer from the consumer’s distance from the main office
  • Faster upload speeds

Cable Cons:

  • Shared bandwidth with others in your neighborhood
  • Slowed down during peak hours
  • Might be unavailable in some areas

Bottom Line

In reality, both Cable and DSL internet offers the same level of security and reliability. Modern advancements in technology have made the difference between the two almost obsolete (aside from the obvious fact of how they connect to the internet). But as a general rule of thumb, choose DSL if you are close to one of your prospect ISP’s service office as it will offer more stable download speeds. On the other hand, choose cable if you have few neighbors using the service in your area as it will provide faster upload and download speeds in general (and if the closest service office of a DSL provider is more than 2.5 km away.