When making an audio or video call over the Internet, jitters such as crashing images or chopping sound sometimes occur. This way you will have access to an important indicator: jitter.
Jitter is usually the first indicator to show changes in case of problems. Users often did not even notice a difference in the use of the network, but their jitter appears high once they measure it. This could mean, among other things, that connection capacity is at its limit, in which case the user must plan its expansion.
Jitter is defined as the variation in latency over time. Latency, in turn, is the time it takes for a data packet to be transmitted. In a normal situation, all packets to the same destination take approximately the same time to arrive. For example, 10 milliseconds (ms). Small variations are expected, that is, one packet takes 10ms, another 12ms or 11ms, the next takes 10ms again, and so on. But if one takes 10ms; another, 40ms; or 20ms, 10ms, 30ms, etc., we have very high jitter, that is, latency is varying a lot. This variation indicates connection instability.
Each packet travels at a different speed, either because it is held up in some equipment during its journey, waiting for its turn to travel on a congested network, like a car in a traffic jam, or because it takes a long time to be processed by equipment that is working at the limit of its capacity, like an old truck with a lot of weight traveling up a steep climb, interfering with the general flow of information.
The higher the jitter, the greater this variation is and the more unstable the connection can be.
There are several factors that can lead to high jitter. Among them, we can mention:
• Old equipment or equipment not compatible with the hired Internet plan: such equipment may not be able to handle the large volume of information traveling, required by modern applications, or may be too slow in processing data packets for current standards;
• Many pieces of equipment sharing the same connection: each network equipment has a limited capacity to handle the flow of information and the piece of equipment connected to it; if this capacity is exceeded, there may be problems;
• Use of streaming, torrents, or other applications that use a high volume of data;
• Insufficient Internet plan to meet the bandwidth needs of the applications used;
• Interference in the connection: Wi-Fi networks can suffer interference, which can lead to packet loss and high jitter.
• Problems with your ISP.
Ideally, jitter should be close to zero. However, in a practical way, it can be considered that jitter above 30ms strongly indicates problems.
If it is high, there are some steps you can take:
• Prefer wired connections that are more stable and not subject to interference, unlike Wi-Fi networks;
• Close applications that can consume a lot of bandwidth, such as torrents and streamings, and ask people who are sharing the same connection to do the same;
• Update or replace very old routers;
• Replace very old cables and connectors, which may be oxidized, damp, or otherwise degraded in quality.
If none of these suggestions yield results and high jitter is still perceived, as well as connectivity issues, contact your ISP and report the problem.
Keep an eye on the Internet Citizen tips and improve the quality of your Internet connection.
In the first scene, a man uses a computer; at his side, several screens with people appear, indicating that there is a videoconference in progress. The images freeze and a loading symbol appears, then the phrase “Videos call failing?” is shown.
In the second scene, the phrase changes to “Check jitter in a speed test.” The man accesses a web page showing a speed test, focusing on jitter values. They are highlighted in red.
In the third scene, the videoconference screen appears again with the images freezing, and the phrase changes to “The higher the jitter, the more unstable the connection.” Then the following phrase appears: “To improve it, try using:”, and the man then points to a list that appears beside him. In it, the items: “A wired connection,” “More efficient router and cables,” or “Increasing the hired Internet plan.”
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