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Network Test: Latency and Jitter White Paper


A stockbroker fires up a high-frequency trading application. A football fan streams game highlights onto a smartphone. A neurosurgeon loads a brain scan onto a tablet. These users have something in common: They all expect content delivered when they want it. But throw in even a little unexpected delay on the network, and the result could be lost revenue, dissatisfied customers, or a matter of life or death. That’s what makes latency a critical metric when it comes to network performance assessment.

Time-based performance measurement is a complex topic. Some common terms have multiple definitions, with subtle differences between official and colloquial usage. Other concepts require an understanding of network device and/or test instrument architecture. And many latency measurements, especially in the area of QoS testing, require not only great accuracy and precision but also specific capabilities on the part of the test instrument.

This whitepaper explores latency measurement and covers the following three key areas in detail:

  • Terminology for latency, jitter, and related topics

  • Hands-on examples of latency measurement at work

  • Guidelines and latency-related questions to consider when assessing network performance test equipment

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