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What is Latency and How Can I Improve It?

November 14th, 2022 | 4 min. read

By Jordan Pioth

Woman sitting on the floor working on laptop

If you’ve ever had a call breakup, sounded choppy, have long periods of silence, drop, or have tried browsing the internet on a slow connection you know how disruptive it can be.

If you don’t know what latency is or how you can improve it, you may not know how to eliminate these frustrating experiences.

With internet latency, you could find yourself working less efficiently or getting less work done. Additionally, if you are having latency problems during customer calls, you could find yourself losing business as a result.

Coeo provides many customers with internet quality and call services. Our job is to make sure you have information on what causes latency issues so you can prevent them or solve them when latency problems arise within your organization.

By the end of this article, you will know what latency is, what causes high latency, and ways that you can improve or combat it.

What is latency?

Latency in network communications and telecommunications is how much time it takes for data to travel from one point to another. Typically, customers want low latency, as close to zero as possible.

High latency happens when data packets do not arrive in a timely fashion or take longer than normal. Conversely, low latency means data packets arrive quickly and efficiently from one point to another.

High latency can be easily noticed and dramatically changes your user experience whether it’s browsing the internet or on a video or voice call.

Increased web page load times or unloadable pages, interrupted audio or video streams, as well as an unloadable application, can all be signs of internet latency.

Voice call latency can make the voice on the calls sound robotic or like you are in a tunnel, can cut out audio, or even disconnect the call altogether.

Frozen pictures, pixelated video, or a delay in audio where the audio and video do not align, are all signs of video call latency.

What causes high latency?

High latency can be caused by multiple different factors including distance, connection type, overutilization of bandwidth, and heavy traffic.


High latency for both calling and internet connection can be caused by long distances. The distance between your computer and the servers you are trying to access can be a cause of high internet latency.

For example, if you are on your computer in New York and are trying to access a website hosted by a server located in California, you might experience high latency and your response time will be much slower.

The same issue is true for voice and video calling. If you and your call recipient are too far away from each other, you can experience high latency especially if you are calling internationally.

Connection type

Another factor that causes high latency is the connection type. Typically, DSL, cable, and fiber connectivity all tend to have lower latency than a satellite or LTE connection.

If you are experiencing high latency levels and rely on satellite or LTE as your connectivity type, you may want to change your connection type and upgrade to DSL, cable, or fiber for lower latency.

Overutilization of bandwidth

When you are overutilizing your bandwidth, you may begin to see latency issues. Most service providers apply data caps that limit customers from using excessive amounts of data.

An example of this would be using your voice or data limits. If you reach your bandwidth limit for the month you may notice latency within your internet usage or making calls over the internet.

Heavy traffic

Another reason why you may experience high latency is if a call center or a server is experiencing heavy traffic.

If a call center is receiving frequent calls in a short amount of time or a server is experiencing a high number of visitors, you may experience high latency.

For example, a doctor’s office may experience a high call volume during flu season or a sales organization may experience a high number of calls if they are promoting a new sale.

An example of high traffic on a website may be a ticket sales website on the day ticket sales open for a concert or a shopping website during Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

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Ways you can improve or combat high latency

While there are tons of reasons why you may be experiencing high latency with internet browsing and call quality there are also multiple ways that you can improve or combat high latency.

Improve connection type

If you are experiencing high latency, you may want to look into improving your connection type. As stated previously, satellite connection can cause high latency.

You can improve or combat high latency by switching to a DSL, Broadband, Cable, or fiber connection.

Upgrade to more bandwidth

Another way you can combat high latency issues is to upgrade your bandwidth.

If you have a maximum amount of data you can use from your managed service provider you may be exceeding that amount and may need to upgrade.

It is recommended that you use less than 80% of the maximum amount you can use and if you use anything more than that you may start to notice high latency.

If you use anything more than 80% of your maximum amount consistently every month, you may want to upgrade your bandwidth.

Purchase an SD-WAN solution

If you purchase an SD-WAN solution, you can lower latency. SD-WAN allows you to prioritize traffic which can lower your latency by sending out the most important traffic first and then everything else after rather than sending out traffic all at once.

Next steps to improving latency within your organization.

Now you know what latency is, what causes it, and how to improve or combat it. This will allow you to be fully equipped to handle any latency issues that you may encounter.

Without understanding what latency is, your organization may be living with the various problems we’ve described while lacking the knowledge to improve the situation.

Coeo wants to make sure you have all of the information you need to combat latency.

We have helped hundreds of organizations with network communications and telecommunications issues and want to help you work as efficiently as possible.

If you would like to speak with our team about network latency and how SD-WAN can help improve it or ask any questions you may have you can schedule an appointment.TALK TO AN EXPERT

Knowing you have a problem is the first step to solving an issue.  Take our free Network Assessment to learn how your network compares to industry standards and learn best practice mitigation strategies:Free Network Assessment

Jordan Pioth

When he's not creating content for Coeo, Jordan loves to watch sports, hang out with friends and family, and anything sneaker-related.