Have you ever had too much caffeine and all of a sudden you start feeling jittery or shaky for the next few hours? Imagine that same feeling, but with your VoIP phone call. Without warning, words are jumbled and mixed around. Parts of sentences have completely disappeared. That’s network jitter. Shaky, jittery, lagging network connections can wreak havoc on your digital experience and ruin productivity for your team.
The Official Definition of Jitter
Jitter: any deviation on or displacement to the signal pulses in a high-frequency digital signal.
What is jitter in simple terms?
Jitter is a word in networking that describes a few short interruption errors during data transmission. It may cause network congestion, collisions, or signal interference. Technically, jitter refers to variations in latency – the delays between transmitting signals and receiving.
We’ll get into latency later, for now, let’s just focus on jitter.
Jitter consists of anything you can send over your wireless network that is transmitted via data packets. Data packets can be audio, images, text, phone calls, or video information.
If you have ever been on a zoom call and experienced that annoying or choppy audio lagging, a flicker in your monitor, low video quality, or the irritating visual and audio distortions on a VoIP call… congratulations, you have experienced network jitter.
You probably thought it was solely connected to your internet connection, however, the lag you are experiencing with zoom can be the result of high jitter. Let’s take a deeper dive into the causes and solutions for jitter.
Jitter: A breakdown
Let’s break it down: voices and images are broken down into hundreds and thousands of data packets which are sent throughout the internet to various servers through your internet service provider.
Once the data packages arrive at their virtual destination, they reassemble to form the data that appears on the monitor or the network line.
Majority of the time this process is a regular and smooth transition, giving you a clear, seamless transition. but in the event there is a fluctuation in the packet delay variation – it creates (you guessed it) jitter.
Jitter can result in a lot of network congestion, drifts, and route changes. It can cause a lot of inconvenience in video conferencing, ultimately degrading the quality of communications.
Although you can not completely rid yourself of the annoying effects of jitter, you can educate yourself on how to monitor network jitter and reduce the effects of jitter.
What causes jitter?
Good question! Understanding jitter can help you decrease its overall effects on your internet connection. Here are a few things that can cause high jitter and network congestion:
Outdated networks – older equipment like cable routers are often a foundational cause of network jitter.
Limited bandwidth – networks with overcrowded networks can perform poorly and be the cause of lagging and low network performance.
Lack of data packet prioritization- for VOIP services, in particular, jitter can often occur when audio data is not prioritized over other types of traffic.
Sound familiar? The causes of jitter are closer than you think, the good news is that the solution to decreasing your network jitter is just as close!
How can you reduce Network Congestion? A look at Jitter Buffers
Now that you know what jitter is, and have taken a look at the common causes of jitter, here are a few pointers on how you can reduce the jitter in your network
- Out with the old, in with the new– Upgrade your ethernet cable. Just like you upgrade your new iPhone every year, your cable deserves an upgrade too. Upgrades in equipment can help reduce network jitter.
- Minimize unnecessary bandwidth usage– keeping your bandwidth to a minimum during work hours can serve as a jitter butter. We know you may be secretly binge-watching your favorite show during the client’s meetings (don’t worry we won’t tell your boss), but streaming while working can make your jitter worse. Instead, stream your favorite shows at a time when your internet connection does have too many devices competing for data.
- Speaking of outside working hours, you can also reduce jitter by scheduling your application updates at an off-peak time. Doing so will help control internet traffic and give your network connection more capacity.
What is a good jitter? Are there acceptable levels of network jitter?
There are tolerant levels of jitter within your network.
Jitter measurements occur in milliseconds (mS). In most cases, delays of at least 30 seconds may cause disturbances. For effective audio streaming, the jitter is below 15 seconds. Increasing this jitter can cause problems in audio quality.
For some networks, a high level of jitter does not have a heavy effect on the internet connection quality or speed, however other applications can be greatly disrupted by even the slightest instance of jitter.
Certain applications or services are more sensitive towards jitter than others. How does network jitter work properly? For example, jitters can not affect email messages as much as VoIP calls so it is dependent on what you can accept from your internet service provider.
In the VoIP market, poor audio quality results in poor customer experience and can negatively impact business profitability.
Jitter and Network Latency
Before you go, it’s important to understand the difference between jitter and latency. It can be easy to connect the two, however, they are different in several ways.
Jitter consists of the fluctuation in the intervals when data packets are sent and received, on the other hand, latency is connected to the delay in the transmission of data packets between machines. The two work together, the higher the jitter, the higher the latency and overall packet loss.
Inconsistent or high latency along with high jitter can be a serious issue. When using live streaming or VoIP services, remember to be vigilant so you can maintain a quality and consistent network connection.
Jitter can create a horrible experience for your network traffic, causing your wireless networks to lag and run slowly.
The good news is fixing jitter doesn’t have to be a difficult process. There are ways to decrease jitter and network latency with your connection by upgrading your ethernet cable, and other equipment and applications promptly.
You can beat jitter, grab your coffee and prepare for the fight!