“Someone’s loss is someone’s gain”
The above-mentioned quote has never been more accurate than it has been in the current Covid-19 pandemic. While the whole world was suffering, we witnessed an enormous demand for internet usage. This is due to the schools and workplaces getting shut down under the Covid-19 lockdown rules worldwide. As a result of which, Schools were closed off, and workplaces had to be shut down. But the need to somehow keep things moving, we shifted ways in which the things were used to be done and developed or simply amplified the pre-existing way of doing work.
And this gave birth or more appropriately enhanced the way the internet was used for many. Classes went online, hurrying for that metro to your office became reaching often to your laptop to work from home. In other words, the internet became our superhero in these testing times. However, just like every superhero, the internet had a weakness too that eventually started taking a toll on it. You must be wondering what that is. Well, that is nothing but latency or for better understanding, internet latency.
So, what is this? How did it come to happen? And what can be done to solve this? Let’s find out with the internet latency or simply latency itself.
Whenever we search anything on the web or use the internet for anything, we must have noticed that there is a certain time that it takes to get you there, i.e., finding what you have searched or the app loading on the screen. The time here normally remains in seconds or milliseconds and by our human tendency, we tend to not put too many thoughts into it.
But ever since the ways of the world changed after the Covid-19 pandemic hit us, it was noted by almost every internet service provider and related researchers that whatever time it took them to find something on the internet has significantly increased. This phenomenon that caused the increase in time difference can be termed internet latency.
In a more definitive word, internet latency can be termed as the time taken for the data to be transferred from the source to its destination. This time is measured in milliseconds.
To understand this, let’s take a look back at pre-Covid-19 pandemic times. Parents dropping their kids off at school, people driving to their office and when the weekend bell rings, some visited their families, some booked tickets to newly released movies, and ate food outside, etc. To be honest, that seems like the good old days now.
Then the nightmare we never had happened in March 2020 and it went on to change the whole world. We witnessed some of the biggest and had to go through experiences like never before. As the spreading of coronavirus raged, people were asked, and in some places forced, to remain to stay in their homes. Apps like zoom became the classes for the and workplace for people. Even it became the only way we could interact with our family and friends and even neighbors. All of these changes in what we were used to as a way of life throughout the globe resulted in how we used the internet most commonly.
One of the major news outlets that we know even reported how internet usage rose over by 50% in March itself. And what surprised most of us was how in this increase in internet usage, the streaming video contributed just about 12%. This means that the majority of the increase in internet consumption came from live streaming and real-time connections.
With the current internet working functionality, consumption of the internet has been prioritized which contributes to the 70% of the internet traffic. This we call streaming in general. As a result of this, the data paths were mostly designed for a lot of download capacity than the upload capacity.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) today are providing connection bandwidth where even though the streaming doesn’t affect the latency significantly, real-time interactions can. This is due to real-time connections that cannot be buffered; otherwise it won’t be called a real-time connection. So, with the increase in real-time connection throughout, the whole internet network was needed to be redesigned to achieve lower latency.
Now that we know the cause of the increase in latency, the world needed to find ways to lower the latency so we can continue to have a better internet usage experience than we were initially having during the Covid-19 Pandemic. And that solution turns out to be the 5G and Wi-Fi 6.
As witnessed every few years, cellular technology has advanced significantly. From 2G to 4G, the world is now entering the era of 5G. Approximately, 5G has been calculated to be 10x faster than the 4G network, and just like the increase in speed, 5G has contributed towards lowering the internet latency by a factor of 10 as well. As a result of this, with 5G we now have more real-time connections running simultaneously throughout the globe without it affecting the internet latency negatively.
We have now used Wi-Fi for decades, the advantage of using Wi-Fi has been that it worked on the principle of the collision-avoidance sensing system to manage user access to the network. To simply how it worked here is an example. Suppose two people send an email simultaneously resulting in a packet collision. However, this collision is no big of an issue as either of the users can re-transmit the data when the internet is free.
But when it comes to two people video-calling at the same time, things start to happen differently. Hereafter the packet collision takes place, it adds latency when the network needs it. And with the real-time interaction increased rapidly, it added to the internet latency significantly.
However, with the introduction of Wi-Fi 6, the packet collisions have been reduced enormously. This due to the Wi-Fi 6 access points being smarter in micromanaging the information flow to deal with simultaneous users. Thus, leading to a more well connected society in the future.
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A lone wolf by definition, a writer by heart, and a lost star with ambitions to light up the dark both inside and around me, sometimes by immersing myself into books or video games or traveling with a backpack to an uncertain destination believing that life is all about the choices we make and we don't.