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What Is Latency?

At its simplest definition, latency is simply a measured delay, the time it takes for a task to occur. For a more formal definition, latency is “the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer.”

Latency is generally also referred to as “lag,” and will be incredibly familiar to anyone who has played video games over the internet, or even struggled to watch a video that kept getting interrupted and slowing down.

In plain English, and for VoIP specifically, latency generally occurs in two specific ways:

  • The delay between a person speaking, and the recipient on the other end of the phone hearing those words
  • The time it takes for the VoIP solution to actually process and convert the voice information into data packets

This, of course, directly impacts the quality of your phone call, leading to long pauses and overlapping noises or words, with speakers interrupting each other. In short, you want to throw your phone at the wall. No matter what you do, there will always be some form of latency.

With current circumstances, it is simply impossible for VoIP solutions and current networking technology and hardware to receive an input of data (like your voice), analyse it, convert it to packets, transmit it through the air to another physical location in time and space, and “unwrap” that data packet to deliver it as a voice recording to another person, in absolutely 100% instant time — or at the speed of light. We just can’t do it yet.