Latency: Definition, Examples


Latency, in technology, refers to the delay between a user’s action and the response from a website or application to that action. It is essentially the time it takes for a data packet to move from a sender to a receiver. High latency can result in noticeable delays, affecting real-time applications like video streaming or gaming negatively.


The phonetics of the keyword “Latency” is /ˈleɪtənsi/.

Key Takeaways

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  1. Latency refers to the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer. The lower the latency, the faster the data transfer.
  2. High latency can cause significant issues in systems that require real-time interaction, like video streaming, online gaming, and voice over internet protocol (VoIP).
  3. Several factors can contribute to high latency including network congestion, distance, and interference. Reducing these can help improve the overall performance of a network.



Latency is a critical metric in the field of technology because it impacts the speed and efficiency with which data is transferred over networks. Essentially, latency is the time delay that occurs from the moment information is sent from a source to the time it is received by a destination. This can impact a broad range of activities such as loading web pages, the responsiveness of online applications, streaming services, and online gaming. A lower latency implies a smaller delay, leading to faster data transfer and a better overall user experience. Thus, understanding and optimizing latency is imperative for improving network performance and user satisfaction in today’s digital world.


Latency in technology essentially measures the time delay experienced in a system. It specifically refers to the amount of time it takes for a packet of data to go from one point to another. Whether it be in computing networks, telecommunications, or online gaming, experiencing lower latency is significant across the field of technology, as it ensures faster data transfer and real-time communication.Latency is vital in determining the efficiency of a network. When you surf the internet, make a call, send an email, or play a video game online, the lower the latency, the smoother and faster these activities will be. For example, in live online gaming, low latency means less lag, leading to a better gaming experience. In video calling, low latency offers smoother, real-time communication without delays. Therefore, latency’s main purpose is to be as minimal as possible to ensure quick, effective communication between systems.


1. Video and Audio Streaming: When you’re streaming a movie or music online, latency could affect the quality of your experience. If high latency occurs, there may be delays in the streaming process, causing the video or audio to buffer or lag.2. Online Gaming: In the world of online gaming, latency is crucial for a good gaming experience. Higher latency can cause a delay between a player’s action (like clicking a mouse or pressing a key) and the game’s response, which can result an unfair advantage for players with lower latency or a frustrating gaming experience.3. Video Conferencing: In the case of Zoom, Skype, or any other video conferencing tool, high latency can cause delays in communication, leading to conversations that are out of sync. The user might experience delays in the transmission of their audio and video, making real-time communication challenging.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Sure, here is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section for the technology term: Latency.**Q1: What is Latency?**A1: Latency refers to the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer. It is widely used in networking and computing fields and often measured in milliseconds (ms).**Q2: What causes high latency?**A2: High latency can acquire from several factors, including geographical distance between devices, network congestion, lack of bandwidth, or poor quality hardware or software.**Q3: How does latency affect internet speed?**A3: While latency doesn’t affect the speed rate at which data is transferred once it is moving (bandwidth), it does influence the perceived speed because of the delay it introduces in starting the data transfer.**Q4: How can we reduce network latency?**A4: Network latency can be reduced by increasing the bandwidth, optimizing local networks, using wired connections instead of wireless, or using a Content Delivery Network (CDN) service if the latency is due to geographical distance.**Q5: How can I check my system’s latency?**A5: You can check your system’s latency by doing a ping test, traceroute, or via dedicated software tools that come with more advanced devices.**Q6: What is considered a good latency?**A6: Generally, a latency of 100ms or less is considered good. However, for faster-paced applications like online gaming or real-time video conferencing, a latency below 50ms might be desired.**Q7: Is lower latency always better?**A7: Yes, lower latency is usually better as it means less delay between the instruction for data transfer and the start of the actual transfer. This leads to more real-time interaction or streaming. **Q8: What is the difference between latency and bandwidth?**A8: While latency refers to the delay that occurs before data transmission starts, bandwidth refers to the volume of data that can be transmitted over a connection in a given amount of time. Latency affects the ‘responsiveness’ of a network connection (how quickly data starts to transfer), while bandwidth affects how ‘fast’ it will transfer.

Related Tech Terms

  • Ping
  • Jitter
  • Throughput
  • Bandwidth

Sources for More Information


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