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Propagation delay

Propagation delay definition

Propagation delay refers to the amount of time it takes for a data packet to travel from the sender to the receiver across a network. This delay is determined by a combination of factors, including the physical distance the signal has to travel, the transmission medium (e.g., fiber optic cable, copper cable, wireless), and the speed of light in that medium.

See also: edge gateway, tcp handshake

How to manage propagation delay

When you’re building your network, propagation delay is one of the aspects you should consider. While in everyday activities such as browsing the web, delay of a few milliseconds doesn’t matter much, playing games, trading, video streaming, and real-time control systems, fast connection can make a real difference. Here’s how you can manage propagation delay in your network:

  • Network optimization. Design the network to minimize the physical distance between devices can help to reduce propagation delay.
  • Use efficient transmission media. Choosing a faster transmission medium such as fiber optics instead of copper cables, can help reduce propagation delay.
  • Choose the right protocol. For example, the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) handles propagation delay effectively with mechanisms such as data segmentation, acknowledgements, and retransmission of lost data.
  • Edge computing. By bringing computation and data storage closer to the location where it's needed, edge computing helps to reduce the distance data has to travel, thereby reducing propagation delay.