When you run an Internet speed test, the results can sometimes include a measurement for jitter. Why is this important and can it affect your internet performance? Here’s everything you need to know.
Inconsistent delay in data packets
Modern computer networks, like the Internet, use packets of data to transfer information from one place to another. These data packets are sent in a continuous, evenly spaced stream. But if for some reason, such as B. Network congestion, bad hardware or lack of packet prioritization, the steady stream of data packets is interrupted and the interval between packets becomes uneven, the result is jitter. Put simply, jitter is the internal variation between consecutive data packets. It is also known as Packet Delay Variation (PDV).
Jitter can lead to a poor experience, especially in real-time applications like video conferencing, VoIP calls, live streaming, online gaming, and more. You’ll notice it in the form of video or audio artifacts, noise, distortion, and dropped calls.
You can check your internet connection jitter with speed test tools from Cloudflare or Ookla. Available through any modern browser, the Cloudflare speed test tool tells you not only jitter, but also your connection’s download speed, upload speed, and ping time.
On the other hand, although Speedtest by Ookla is accessible via web browsers, jitter tests are only available in official Speedtest apps for Android, iPhone or iPad, Mac and Windows.
Alongside Cloudflare and Ookla tools, the Packet Loss Test developed by Matthew Miner is a more advanced tool that can identify jitter in your connection. It’s highly customizable, allowing you to tweak packet size, frequency, duration, and acceptable delay. But if you’re unsure about these adjustments, you can also choose a preset. Available presets include Full HD cloud gaming streams, Zoom calls, VoIP calls, popular online games, and more. The results reveal, among other things, details about the average jitter.
What is acceptable jitter?
Like ping or latency, jitter is measured in milliseconds (ms). Lower jitter values mean you have a reliable and consistent connection, while higher jitter is the result of an inconsistent connection.
30 ms jitter or less is generally acceptable. However, some applications may have a higher or lower tolerance for jitter. Let’s say you stream videos from Netflix or Disney+. In this case, you usually won’t notice the effects of jitter because the data flow is mostly one-way. The streaming service can have a large buffer to mitigate jitter. Likewise, unless it is extreme, jitter rarely affects general web browsing, email, social media, or use of services like Google Docs.
But in the case of a video conference, a VoIP call, or an online gaming session – where communication between two or more endpoints is crucial – jitter can easily be a spoilsport. Therefore, very low to no jitter is preferred in such applications.
If the jitter test returned a value greater than 30 ms and you frequently use an application where performance can be affected, you need to fix the underlying problem or risk degrading performance.
How to reduce jitter
Once you’ve determined that your connection has significantly higher jitter and you’re having problems, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue.
A wired connection is one of the easiest ways to deal with jitter on your network. If you use a desktop or have a permanent work station, it is better to choose to connect to the Internet using an Ethernet cable than Wi-Fi. Additionally, it’s also a good idea to upgrade from Cat5 or older Ethernet cables to Cat6 or newer. Newer cables have more bandwidth and better protection against interference and crosstalk.
However, if you depend on a WiFi connection, it may be worth upgrading your WiFi router. Many of the best wireless routers on the market feature Quality of Service (QoS) technology that can manage your traffic to prioritize critical apps and reduce jitter on your connection.
If possible, you should also reduce unnecessary bandwidth usage like Netflix streaming while running critical apps. In addition, you can schedule device or software updates outside of working hours to free up bandwidth for important tasks.
If you are still having jitter issues, contact your internet service provider (ISP). For example, you may have an issue with last mile connectivity or you may need to upgrade your plan. But if nothing works, your final option is to switch ISPs (which may or may not be possible depending on where you live).
TIED TOGETHER: This will give you a better wireless signal and reduce wireless network interference
Does Jitter Affect Internet Speed?
Jitter doesn’t directly affect your internet speed, but it can affect your internet performance. So jitter and internet speed go hand in hand. If your network jitter is very high, it can seem like you are having internet speed issues due to choppy, lag, and artifacts in the apps you are using. But by using a wired connection, updated hardware, and the right network configuration, you can mitigate jitter and improve overall internet performance.