The IT Law Wiki



Latency is

  • "a measure of the amount of time between a request and a response."[1]
  • "the time it takes for a block of data on a data track to rotate around to the read/write head."[2]
  • "the delay in processing or in availability.[3]


The latency "of a device or process is the time delay introduced by the device or process."[4]


Latency is

  • “the amount of time it takes a packet to travel from source to destination.”[5]
  • "the time it takes for a single packet to be sent from your computer to the testing server and then back again (the 'round trip time'). This is measured in milliseconds. Latency will be greater across longer distances (i.e., if you are farther away from a testing server), and can also be impacted by a range of other factors, including network congestion."[6]


Latency is affected by physical distance, the number of "hops" from one internet network to another internet network that must be made to deliver the packets (since there can be congestion at each hand-off point), and voice-to-data conversion.

Network technologies that create significant time delay can arguably degrade the performance of many interactive Internet applications. The extent of the degradation increases with the extent of the delay. Latency is particularly important for voice applications such as VoIP and Video Relay Service (VRS) where a high degree of latency can degrade voice communication to an unintelligible level. Other non-voice, interactive Internet applications may also be less tolerant of the effects of latency. These include some educational applications, some telework applications, telepresence, many telemedicine applications, and interactive online gaming.

Together, latency and bandwidth define the speed and capacity of a network.


  1. In the Matter of Rambus, Inc., 2006-2 Trade Cases ¶75364 (Aug. 2, 2006).
  2. Digital Broadband Content: The Online Computer and Video Game Industry, at 43.
  3. NIST Big Data interoperability Framework, Vol. 1, at B-1.
  4. Framework for Cyber-Physical Systems, at 13.
  5. Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Protection, at 159 n.8.
  6. FCC, About the Consumer Broadband Test (Beta).[1]
  7. Cybersecurity A Primer for State Utility Regulators, App. B.

See also[]