In search of the cause of poor Internet performance
The increased perception regarding Internet problems arising when working from home (or during distance learning) and during video streaming is mainly due to the fact that these activities have been used more frequently and more intensively in the last year. Accordingly, consumers have developed a greater awareness of the reliability of their Internet. But the question is: Do they also know what causes delays? Consumers look for accountability outside their own sphere of influence. The majority agree that the problem must be the inadequate regional expansion of the network infrastructure (57 percent) or the overloading of their network (53 percent). Causes that they themselves can (more or less) influence – such as inferior routers or outdated devices – are mentioned comparatively less often (12 percent).
But what is the cause of such delays? Dr. Thomas King on this: “Within the Internet ecosystem, Internet Exchanges such as DE-CIX act as an intermediary between three different types of networks. For example, when watching a movie via Netflix, the user’s device makes a request over the network of the user’s Internet service provider (such as the Vodafone end-customer network), which is routed through an Internet Exchange directly to the Netflix network. There, the Netflix servers process the request and send the requested film in the form of data packets back to the end-user. The time that passes during this round trip is called “latency”. The further the target network – in this case, Netflix – is from the user, the higher the latency and the more noticeable the delays.”
For an optimal performance level, the latency should ideally not exceed 15 milliseconds. However, to ensure this, content and applications must be hosted as close as possible to the end user, at the so-called “edge” of the Internet – for live streaming in HD/4K, a distance of less than 1,200 kilometers would be ideal.
“We are already using applications that require very low, sometimes single-digit latencies – meaning delays of less than 10 milliseconds. For an optimal user experience, as well as to ensure the highest security and performance for certain applications in the areas of eHealth, mobility or even finance, we must continue to expand the digital infrastructures and increasingly rely on decentralized data centers close to end-users. In scenarios such as autonomous driving, the lowest possible latency is critical to safety and a prerequisite for implementation. To ensure safe road traffic, there must then be a dedicated local data center or Internet Exchange at practically every interchange or rest stop,” concludes Dr. Thomas King.
1According to accumulated data throughput in 2020
Online survey conducted by CIVEY on behalf of DE-CIX
Survey Period: 17 February to 24 February 2021
Question 1: How often do you experience delays when using the Internet (e.g. when livestreaming)?
- Number of participants: 16,197
- Sample Size: 5,050
- Statistical error: 2.5 %
Question 2: When do you experience delays during Internet usage?
- Number of participants: 3,751
- Sample Size: 3,253
- Statistical error: 3.0 %
Question 3: What do you think is the reason for delays when you use the Internet?
- Number of participants: 3,765
- Sample Size: 3,254
- Statistical error: 3.0 %