What is speed and latency?

Speed? Latency? Jitter? What the heck are all these terms and why are they important on your internet connection? The best way to explain them it to use water delivery to your house as an example. Ayera (and all internet companies) deliver internet to your house much the same way the water company delivers water.

SPEED

Speed, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), is how fast data can be delivered to you. It is similar to how fast water flows (gallons per minute) into your house from the street. Keep in mind: you will likely have multiple devices consuming your internet bandwidth at different rates depending on their activity.

Example: You may be brushing your teeth and need a small trickle of water, while the dishwasher might be washing a load of dishes and need a bit more water flow. At the same time, you might be taking a shower and require a lot more water. If your household uses more water than the incoming flow rate can accommodate, problems can occur. Your water pressure drops, and your shower suffers. It is the same thing with electronic devices using your internet bandwidth.

In addition, there may be different speed needs for incoming (download) data and outgoing (upload) data. Upload is usually less important than download, much like how fast your bath water drains away to the sewer. However, some services, such as pushing photos and data backups up to the cloud or streaming video from your security cameras to your phone when away, require sufficient upload speeds to avoid issues.

Most internet providers price their monthly service based on speed.

LATENCY (PING)

Latency is how long it takes for a bit of data to get from the internet to your device. It is comparable to how long it takes for hot water to get from your water heater to your shower. For some activities, this is less important. You may be willing to wait a little while for that hot water to reach your shower as long as it gives you enough flow for a nice pressure. This timing is the same as your TV streaming a movie across the internet. It's OK if it takes a bit longer (higher latency) for the data to stream to your TV because it will queue up the data in a buffer and begin playing when enough of it is there. Keep in mind, you need to have enough speed to keep the data coming to not encounter buffering!

However, if you are engaged in something that requires a speedy response time, such as having a VoIP phone conversation or playing an online video game, having those bits of data get to you as fast as possible is very important. If not, your phone conversation becomes choppy, your game "lags" out, and you are unhappy.

Poor or overloaded internet connections can cause high latency. Remember that latency can happen on the far end of the site or service you are connected to as well. An overloaded game server can have terrible latency and ruin your online game even though your internet connection is working great.

Jitter is simply the average variation of latency. Wildly varying latency can cause issues. Some services such as VoIP calls are highly sensitive to jitter, and your internet connection should ideally keep jitter to less than 10 milliseconds (ms).

Example: Imagine having your shower's water temperature going from hot to cold then back to hot randomly. Not fun! This is the equivalent of jitter in the water delivery world. Low jitter gives you a consistently warm shower.

DATA CAPS

Data caps are essentially how much total data you are allowed to consume each month, typically measured in gigabytes (GB). Using our water analogy, it's essentially how many total gallons of water you have used in a month. Many internet providers may charge you extra if you exceed a certain amount of data per month. Others may limit, or "cap," your speed for the remainder of the month. Be sure to check the fine print to make sure you are aware of such charges and throttling that might occur.

How much do I need?

Activity (per device)
Download Speed
Upload Speed
Latency/Ping
Total Data Used
Basic web browsing, email, music streaming
1 Mbps
< 1 Mbps
< 150 ms
< 0.5 GB per hour
VoIP calling (per simultaneous call)
1 Mbps
1 Mbps
< 30ms
0.5 GB per hour
Online Gaming
3 to 5 Mbps
3 Mbps
< 30 ms
~5 GB per hour
Zoom Conference Call
10 Mbps
5 Mbps
< 70 ms
~7 GB per hour
Streaming Video/Movie (High Def)
10 Mbps
< 1 Mbps
< 100 ms
~10 GB
Streaming Video/Movie (4k)
25 Mbps
< 1 Mbps
< 100 ms
~22 GB
Security Camera to Phone (HD/4k)
1 Mbps
5 - 25 Mbps
< 100 ms
5 to 22 GB

Simply add up who in your household (or business) are doing what simultaneously and that is how much speed you need! For example, mom and dad watching a High Definition movie while the kids are playing video games, participating in a school Zoom call, and browsing the web will need about 30-Mbps download speeds and 10-Mbps upload speeds to keep everyone happy.