Networks today are expected to be high performing and reliable with network speed. It is perceived as the single most important factor in evaluating the performance of a system. The users of computer networks expect consistent high speeds at all times. However, network slowdown and delays are inevitable and subject to a number of inter-dependent factors.
In general, networks speeds depend on the time taken to establish your connection to the Internet. It means the speed with which your pages can load and the time required for downloads. Two of the most important aspects of any network that affect speeds include network bandwidth and latency.
How Bandwidth Affects Network Speed?
In plain simple terms, bandwidth is the network capacity that supports a certain amount of data to pass through the network in a particular period. Therefore bandwidth is measured concerning bits per second (bps), with larger bandwidth networks being able to perform better.
Most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and routers feature bandwidth ratings in the form of theoretical ratings and actual throughput. To put this into context, consider the standard 802.11g Wi-Fi connections, which is rated at 54 Mbps bandwidth. For a network configuration of this sort, it is not uncommon that the actual bandwidth achieved is only 50% or sometimes even less, defining the actual throughput.
As another example, consider Ethernet networks with theoretical bandwidths of 100 Mbps or 1000 Mbps, much different from their actual performance. Even cellular networks follow along with the same lines on bandwidth. Network talk between network hardware, protocols, and operating systems, partly explains the gap between theoretical rating and actual throughput.
So how do you determine your actual network performance?
LAN tools such as netperf and TCP and Internet bandwidth speed tests, most of which are available for free, help you determine the real speed offered by your network. Both hardware configuration and software characteristics tend to influence bandwidth utilization, making it difficult to measure accurately.
What Latency Can Do to Your Network?
Network delays that occur during network data processing come under the broad term of network latency. When a network has low latency, the delay times are considerably smaller. As opposed to a high-latency network with long delays affecting the quality of service.
Delays can happen not just during data processing, but also due to the nature of the physical network medium, also termed as transmission delays. When latency results from data packets are making hops on proxies, the delay is categorized under processing delays.
When a network suffers from high latency, data is substantially blocked from traveling through the network medium, causing the network throughput to drop down. Network latency can last only a few seconds. At other times, it can become a consistent feature of a network.
Typically, your DSL cable might suffer from low latency lasting only less than 100 milliseconds, while satellite Internet connections might suffer from 500 milliseconds and above network latency. As a result, when high bandwidth networks feature high latency as well, their slower counterparts can exhibit better performance on an overall scale.
Ping tests and trace route tool is typically used to measure latency. To provide the best services, you Internet Service Provider might offer Quality of Service feature. It helps to keep the adverse effects of low bandwidth and high latency under check which will help to improve Network Speed.