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(also packet delay variation, PDV)

Jitter definition

Jitter is the variation in the delay of data packets sent over a network, causing irregular arrival times at the destination. This variation occurs due to network congestion, packet loss, and differences in the path packets take. Jitter affects real-time applications such as video conferencing, online gaming, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

See also: low latency, VoIP, VPN gateway

Jitter examples and impacts

  • Video conferencing: Jitter can cause choppy video, audio delays, or even dropped calls during a video conference, as packets arrive at irregular intervals, leading to a poor user experience.
  • Online gaming: High jitter can cause latency issues in online gaming, leading to unpredictable and frustrating gameplay due to sudden delays or jitters in the game's response.
  • VoIP services: Jitter in VoIP calls results in garbled speech and dropped audio, impacting communication quality.

Comparing jitter to latency and packet loss

While latency refers to the time it takes for a data packet to travel from the sender to the receiver, jitter measures the variation in latency over time. Packet loss, on the other hand, is the percentage of data packets that fail to reach their destination. High jitter can negatively impact real-time applications, like video calls or online gaming, while high latency can affect the overall responsiveness of these applications. Packet loss can also contribute to jitter, further degrading the quality of the network connection.

Minimizing jitter and improving network performance

  • Use a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi to ensure a stable connection with less interference.
  • Prioritize real-time applications by enabling quality of service (QoS) settings on the router, which allows allocating bandwidth to specific applications or devices.
  • Avoid network congestion by limiting the number of devices and applications competing for bandwidth, particularly during periods of high usage.
  • Regularly update network hardware and firmware to ensure optimal performance and compatibility.