We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Network Delay?

By Rodney A. Crater
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

When two devices communicate with each other using a packet-switched network, it takes a certain amount of time for information to be generated by one device, travel to the other device and be received by the second device. The total time that it takes for this chunk of information, commonly called a packet, to travel end-to-end is called network delay. There is another type of telecommunications network called a circuit-switched network. In a circuit-switched network, the network delay is considered to be only the travel time from one device to another, excluding the output and intake times.

A typical computer network is a packet-switched network, thus when talking about computer networks, network delay takes into consideration all three of these delays. They are more formally called transmission or serialization delay, propagation delay and processing delay. Some network devices, such as routers and switches, also introduce additional types of delays into a network, for instance, queuing delays. These additional delays, if they occur, are included in the total time for network delay.

In the field of computer networking and network engineering, network delay is an important consideration. Varying and excessive delay can cause unwanted side effects such as packet jitter and lost packets. Packet delay variation, or jitter, creates problems such as garbled telephone calls and shaky video playback. Packet loss can result in dropped telephone calls, longer download times and slow web page retrieval.

Network delay can be caused by many things, including improper network design, the natural characteristics of different media, excessive network traffic and malfunctioning or poorly configured devices. Network designers strive to reduce the causes of delay. They use utilities and tools such as ping, traceroute, cable testers and network analysis software to troubleshoot where delay problems are occurring and what might be causing them. Most operating systems allow a person to test delay by issuing the ping or traceroute commands from the command prompt.

As networks continue to grow in speed and capacity, it becomes increasingly important to understand how long it takes for information to travel from one point to another and where delays occur. The information that travels through networks is mixed together from multiple sources and separated many times as it travels. Phone calls, web pages, downloads and many other types of traffic are mixed and separated repeatedly. If network delay is not kept to a minimum, increasingly more information could be lost in transit as network loads increase and congestion occurs.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.