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Decoding Internet Jitter: VoIP Latency and Its Impact

Kathleen Christie bio
A man wearing a headset struggling to get good VoIP on his laptop during a video call.
Are you sick and tired of lousy video call connections? It might be internet jitter messing with your VoIP.

When numerous devices are connected to the same internet network, it can lead to overcrowding, resulting in signal interruptions and reduced response speeds.

This is referred to as an 'internet jitter'—erratic disturbances that disrupt the smooth functioning of your internet connection. It's like when the data in a video call doesn't travel smoothly or at the correct pace from one gadget to another over the internet.

Like hiccups that interrupt your breathing rhythm, internet jitter messes up your internet data flow. You can avoid these hiccups by using certified VoIP providers and services like RingCentral and GoTo Connect. Let's go through how jitter gets in the way and how to prevent it.

» Want more options? Try these RingCentral alternatives.

How Internet Jitter Works

Have you ever wondered why your internet calls sometimes get delayed or sound weird? That's due to "lag" (internet jitter). Let's break it down.

How the Internet Works

Imagine the internet as a vast network of roads, and sending a message online is like posting a letter. That letter travels through these roads, passing checkpoints and changing hands until it reaches its destination. A reply then needs to get back to you through a similar route.

"Latency" is the time it takes for your letter to go from your device to its destination and back again. It's the delay time between sending and getting a response. The higher the latency, the slower your internet actions take. Latency is measured in milliseconds.

Latency differs across different regions of the USA due to distances from the internet's core infrastructure. In 2019, US mobile provider AT&T offered the fastest 4G internet connection, with an average latency of 47.2 milliseconds.

How Internet Speeds Slow Down

In internet lingo, "lag" (jitter) means the delay between doing something and getting a response. Picture yourself playing an online game: You press "jump," and your character should immediately jump. But if there's lag, there's a delay between your action and your character's move. This makes quick reactions challenging.

Global ping statistics can give you an idea of the latency experienced in different areas worldwide. To fix internet jitter, you'll first need to find the cause. Once you know where the problem lies, there are many ways to improve your connection and have successful virtual meetings.

What Causes Jitter?

There are many things that can cause jitter:

  • Network Configuration: Sometimes, your device might need to be faster, not the network itself.
  • Network Congestion: When many devices use the same internet, it gets crowded and slows down data for calls.
  • Packet Loss: Data bits sometimes get lost due to network problems, making your calls glitchy.
  • Network Latency: How far your device is from where it connects can delay your calls.
  • Buffering: How long it waits before sending your voice can affect your call's clarity. Too much or too little waiting can cause problems.
  • Network Variability: Faster response times mean smoother calls. Slower responses can mess up your conversation.
  • Wireless Networks: Use wired connections. It's better than Wi-Fi for calls because Wi-Fi can drop or cause poor-quality sound.
  • Quality of Service (QoS): When important calls are made a priority on the network, it can make them reach faster, which lags the quality rate.
  • Device Overload: When too many devices use the internet, everything slows down and can even stop working.
  • Route Changes: Changing how data travels can mess up calls, especially if the changes happen too often.
  • Inefficient Codecs and Physical Components: Problems with the equipment that sends the data can add to the poor quality of your calls.
  • Firewalls and Security Devices: Some devices can make your calls slower by doing too many security checks.

How Internet Jitter Can Affect Your VoIP Call

If you’re using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for calls, it’s important to know about the effects of internet jitter as it can delay your data packets, making your VoIP calls worse. 

Data packets are the units of information that travel through the internet from one device to another. They need to arrive in the right order and at the right time for VoIP calls to work well. You may have delayed talking, or calls might drop if the data packets are delayed, lost, or out of sync.

Good VoIP providers, like RingCentral MVP, Vonage, or Zoom Phone, have ways to deal with jitter so your calls are smooth. They use jitter buffers to store and reorder the data packets before they reach your device, reducing the effects of jitter. 

When picking a VoIP service provider, look for one that handles jitter well. This helps you have clear calls without interruptions, essential for quality personal and business conversations.

What Does VoIP Jitter Look Like?

Jitter can cause a few frustrating things:

  • Choppy audio: Your voice in calls might sound weird or break up.
  • Echoes: Have you ever heard your voice repeating during a call? That's an echo caused by jitter.
  • Call disruptions: Your calls might suddenly drop, delay, or disconnect.

How to Fix VoIP Jitter

There's no magic fix, but you can do a few things:

  • Use Wired Connections: A Wi-Fi connection can add to the jitter, so plug into a wired connection to improve the quality.
  • Quality Settings: Some internet devices have settings like QoS, which prioritize essential data, like your calls.
  • Check Bandwidth: Ensure your internet speed can handle all your devices without overloading.

» Need more troubleshooting tips? Check out these ten solutions to common VoIP issues.

Your Path to Clearer Conversations

VoIP jitter can be a headache, causing annoying issues like choppy audio, echoes, and call drops. Beyond being frustrating, slow network speeds can also significantly impact work productivity.

Dodge these troubles and enjoy the highest quality calls. Get a solid internet connection and go wired when you can. Find the right VoIP provider by asking the right questions to ensure your important calls get through uninterrupted. Your family, friends, and work buddies will thank you, and your business will sail more smoothly.

» Need a communications provider? Follow these ten steps to find the right VoIP service.

Kathleen Christie bio
Kathleen Christie, a Top10 writer, specializes in call center development and telephony operations. She's skilled in Avaya provisioning, IP Telephony, Modular Messaging, Microsoft Suite, and Telecom Expense Management, along with Training, Leadership, Customer Service, and Problem Resolution.