Internet speed has been the deciding factor for many consumers and businesses as the deciding factor for whether they have a good quality internet connection, however, speed is not everything and there are numerous other factors that determine whether an internet connection is quality or not. These factors are: latency, ping, jitter, packet loss.

Latency – is the time that it takes for data to travel from one point to another point, for example. The latency will be an important factor for businesses that have multiple branches and need to connect to a central server that is hosted in a data centre or head office. The companies will then measure the latency to ensure that they have a seamless connection with any delays so that their productivity is not hindered by files that take forever to open or programs that take long to start.

Ping – most operating systems have a utility called “ping” accessed from their command terminal. When running a command such as ping domain.com you will receive a return message on the command terminal with something similar to this:

reply from 216.53.218.206: bytes=32 time=28ms TTL=53
reply from 216.53.218.206: bytes=32 time=29ms TTL=53
reply from 216.53.218.206: bytes=32 time=31ms TTL=53
reply from 216.53.218.206: bytes=32 time=30ms TTL=53

With ping, the time in milliseconds (ping rate / latency) is the time between your PC/internet device and the domain.com server where the program is telling you that during the time the test was done, it took an average of 30ms across four runs for the device to communicate with domain.com.

JItter- used in latency-sensitive tasks, jitter is calculated as the change in the amount of time that it takes for a packet to move from Point A to Point B. Jitter can also be referred to as “Packet Delay Variation” (PDV). Jitter can be understood when looked at in gaming terms. When players experience a sudden “lag spikes” and their character shifts suddenly in a matter of seconds, what they have experienced is jitter. In the ISP world, controlling jitter is something that is critical to offering a good online experience.

Packet-loss – is typically caused by network congestion. As we know, data travels in packets across our networks and over the internet. With packet-loss, these data packets may travel to a given router or network segment at a greater rate than what the router or network segment is able to send through and as a result, there is no other option than to drop packets. Packet loss can be caused by a variety of factors such as weak wireless signals, faulty hardware or network drives.

All of these factors may change on a regular basis in regular networks or internet connections due to varying circumstances, however, not all these factors are always important as internet quality factors are dependent on what you are trying to achieve i.e a gamer would take more notice of latency, ping and jitter than purely speed, while someone downloading large files will be more worried about speed than anything else.