How to improve latency

How to improve latency

Date: 17/06/24

Author: Shia Mitchell

5 quick at-home fixes to improve latency

Latency refers to the time delay between sending information (the input), and the information being received and having an effect (the output). It is typically measured in milliseconds (ms) – you may also see this measurement referred to as ping rate. 

For example, let’s say you’re on a video call. You’ve just finished telling them a really funny story, but their appropriate response of laughing happens about three seconds after you finish talking. This doesn’t mean your story wasn’t good, it just means there was a delay (or a lag) in the time it took for your video and audio to reach them due to poor latency.

Latency is not the same as Internet speed — though speed could have an effect. Our guide covers what constitutes ‘good’ latency, and includes some tips you can try to improve your latency for quicker response times.

What is ‘good’ and ‘poor’ latency?

Low latency is ‘good’ latency, while high latency is ‘poor’. The higher the latency, the longer the delay and the more frustrating your online experience is going to be. In gaming, this is where you experience lags. Even the slightest second delay in an intense game could be the difference between victory and crushing defeat. 

For real-time gaming responses, you’ll want your latency to be as low as possible. The sweet spot is between 20-40ms for instant and lag-free gameplay — ideal for playing first-person shooter games online.

Smooth gameplay for online multiplayer games is achievable with a latency of around 50ms. A latency of 100ms will be undetectable for slower-paced games that don’t require quick responses.

 On the very poor end of the scale, gaming will be near impossible with a high latency of 200ms. 

Why is my latency so high?

High latency can be caused by several things, related to your location and your broadband network. These causes include:

Physical location of server

It matters how close you are to the server where the game is hosted. If you’re in London, but the server is in central Europe, the time it takes for data to transfer will be longer than if the server was in a nearby county.

Unfortunately, you can’t control where servers are held. But, if it’s a new issue you have with a particular game, it’s worth reporting as an issue for the gaming company to investigate.

 Broadband speed and bandwidth

This issue is twofold and includes broadband speed and available bandwidth. 

Slow internet speed makes everything else slow too, including latency. Your speed could be slow because your bandwidth is being spread across too many connected devices in your home, or because the package itself isn’t enough for the demands of your online activities. 

The best broadband speed for gaming depends on the types of games you play, but 150 Mbps should be more than enough to cover most games and still allow other people in your household to enjoy their online activities. 

Test your speed

WiFi connection

Your broadband is definitively more reliable over a wired connection than WiFi. A wired connection eliminates signal issues, which are sometimes caused by a router, and brings you a much faster experience. High latency occurs when data is slowed down by poor signal quality, which might happen if your signal is blocked by walls and other materials. 

If you’re using a WiFi extender, this is an extra step that your data needs to take to reach your router — and it might weaken the signal.

How can I fix high latency?

If you are experiencing high latency and annoying lags during gameplay, try these tips to lower the ping rate and improve your experience:

Use a wired connection or move close to the router

Consider using a wired connection for faster and more reliable responses. Simply plug an ethernet cable into the device you use for gaming to eliminate the delays that occur over WiFi.

If a wired connection isn’t possible for you, then try being physically closer to your WiFi router to reduce physical barriers and boost the WiFi signal to your device. 

Update router and other hardware

Outdated technology, such as older WiFi routers can struggle to keep up with the demands of more advanced programs. If your broadband connection uses copper cables, this could also cause delays. 

Full fibre broadband is ideal for online gaming as it is more reliable and reduces delays — but isn’t available everywhere just yet.

Get in touch with your provider to see if they can supply you with a new WiFi router and upgrade your broadband connection to full fibre.

Community Fibre packages come with high-quality, WiFi 6 routers for better coverage and speeds, guaranteeing stronger signals throughout your home.

Reduce bandwidth demands

Your bandwidth works hard to try and give everyone a fair share of your broadband speed. Reduce unnecessary pressure on bandwidth by closing apps and disconnecting devices that aren’t needed. Doing this will allow a larger portion of speed to go to your gaming device, and reduce associated lag.

Check issues with your internet provider

You can also check your router settings to see what devices are being prioritised, and review other settings that affect WiFi connectivity. Head over to your provider's social media or website to see if they reported any downtime or congestion that could be causing temporary delays. 

Can’t fix latency? Try Community Fibre

Low latency isn’t achievable without fast broadband supplied through a reliable network. If your current provider isn’t up to the challenge of supporting your gaming goals, consider switching to a new package that can. 

Community Fibre uses the most reliable technology in the UK, with 99.9% uptime and no peak-time slowdowns, to keep your online gaming smooth and seamless. We have the fastest wired symmetrical upload and download speeds of any network, which is perfect for enjoying lag-free gameplay. 

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