Fibre Bandwidth Vs Latency

Jacques du Rand 2018-10-28

Bandwidth and latency are things we now hear practically every day. Be it with trying to fathom what is wrong with your internet or to understand why your computer is so slow. But this needn’t be foreign terms for only the tech guys to know. Which one is more important for a great fibre experience.

Latency is derived from the word “latent” which means something is hidden at the present moment but it may develop further in the future. Similarly, in terms of computers, we can then define latency as a delay in processing or transmitting data.

Network latency is the delay that takes place while communicating over a network (like the internet). For example, communicating with a computer in another country may take longer because of the distance.

This is can easily be visualized by a hose pipe with water, the latency is how fast the water is flowing through not the how much. It's usually measured in milliseconds and lower is better.

These latencies are dependent on the physical distance the data must travel before it reaches its destination as well as how many hops and routers and the path it needs to travel.

Bandwidth can be described as the maximum data transfer rate of a network or internet connection. Bandwidth is not, however, a measure of network speed although in conversation that is what you will most likely hear. Alternatively, bandwidth measures how much data can flow through a connection at one time, it does not measure how fast the bits of data move from one place to another. Going back to our hose pipe analogy the amount of water that can flow through the pipe at a time i.e the “width” of the pipe.

Imagine all the cars in your city as data and a highway as the bandwidth. The cars will get from point A to B much faster on a five-lane highway than a two-lane highway. Similarly, your downloads will finish much faster when you have a high-bandwidth connection. But the latency is how long you will have to wait to see the first car appear on the five lane highway.

Bandwidth is measured in Mbps (Megabits per seconds) not megabytes and here higher is better: 10mbps , 20mbps or 40+ Mbps are some of the most common speed (bandwidth) ratings you will find on our local fibre networks like VumatelOpenServe or Octotel and many have the same bandwidth (read speed) packages.

Vumatel does have a strange bandwidth ladder - as their fibre packages starts at 4mbps then jumps to 20Mbps then 200Mbps.


Fixed(Fibre,ADSL) versus Wireless(LTE):

The latency is usually quite a bit lower on a fixed network connection like fibre or ADSL compared to wireless connections like Telkom LTE

The gamers amongst us will usually prefer lower latency for those fast first shooter games like Fortnite where speed (read latency) is more important than bandwidth.

For most people it will be more important to have a high bandwidth number than a good latency number.


How do I test my fibre latency?

On windows open up a terminal (cmd.exe) window or if you on Mac type “terminal”

Type: ping

64 bytes from jnb01s: icmp_seq=1 ttl=55 time=27.4 ms 
64 bytes from jnb01s: icmp_seq=2 ttl=55 time=26.0 ms 
64 bytes from jnb01s: icmp_seq=3 ttl=55 time=23.8 ms 

You will get a bunch of repeating numbers but the one labeled “time” will be the one to look out for - anything under 30ms is good

How do I test my fibre bandwidth speed ?

Use our multiportal speed test, we only use international speed test since that's where the bulk of your data usage will most likely come from.