Managing a modern network is difficult as it has some inherent performance concerns, such as latency. Ensuring that a network performs well by combating latency is one of the critical tasks of network administrators everywhere. However, the companies using real-time services have another problem, a particularly tricky one at that, to tackle – network jitter. Monitoring network performance and jitter is key to ensuring seamless real-time service quality while offering voice and video calls.
However, preventing network jitter is easier said than done. The key to solving the problem is to understand what causes the jitter first, measure the levels constantly and take steps to reduce it.
What is Network Jitter?
Jitter is the fluctuation of latency experienced within a network in a specific time frame. To understand jitter, we need to know how information is transferred within a network. Data transfer occurs between the devices within a network in packets. Packets are nothing but portions of data sent to other devices. The time taken for these packets to travel from the source until they reach their destination is known as latency.
The variation in latency is jitter. Higher jitter indicates poor network performance and delays in delivering packets. When high jitter occurs, the packets often arrive out of sequence, making them useless. In the case of a VoIP phone system, higher latency means the calls are rendered indecipherable.
What Triggers Jitter?
A range of factors causes jitter. However, some common factors include:
Network congestion – an overcrowded network will result in poor performance as most of the bandwidth is consumed by active devices.
Poor hardware performance – using an old network with outdated equipment could be another reason you’re encountering the jitter. So, an obsolete router, switch, or cable could be the reason behind the network jitter you are experiencing.
Wireless network – using a wireless network often results in a lower-quality network connection. A way to solve this is to keep connections wired, ensuring that voice and video call systems deliver a better-quality user experience.
There are other causes for jitter apart from the common reasons listed above.
Why Should You Monitor Network Jitter?
It is essential to monitor network jitter because it is a crucial indicator of your network performance. Network jitter is more noticeable on specific applications than others, and any application relying on real-time packet delivery will perform well only when the network jitter levels are low.
Services such as VoIP phone systems rely on real-time packet delivery, requiring the packets to be delivered in sequence to make any sense to the end user. When the packet transfer usually happens, they are delivered from source to destination as a stream, with each packet evenly spaced out. When there is a network jitter, the packets are delivered out of sequence and get messed up as they reach the end user, rendering the information useless.
Monitoring network jitter is crucial in such a scenario as it helps ensure that the network operates within the confines of acceptable jitter. Monitoring helps track the jitter and make sure the jitter stays to a minimum.