Bufferbloat and how to fix it

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What is Bufferbloat

Bufferbloat is the undesirable latency that comes from upstream network equipment buffering too much data. This added latency is often at the root of many network issues, and occurs when all the capacity of a given connection is consumed and the buffers overfill, causing delays.

This happens frequently with most consumer routers since they have ignored the issues around latency and focused on achieving the highest ‘speed’ or capacity metrics possible at the expense of all else. This turns out to be a bad choice for the end users, as latency has a huge impact on today’s highly interactive Internet traffic.

As many households increase the number of devices that connect to the Internet, and many of these devices perform data exchanges in the background, such as synching photos to cloud services, this added, and often not clearly detectable traffic can consume all capacity and impact use of time-critical applications like Skype (and other VoIP apps) by exposing them to high latencies from the bufferbloat.

Fixing Bufferbloat

The fix for bufferbloat is simple: don’t push more data through than the real, current capacity of the line can handle. That way buffers don’t overfill and data can flow smoothly with minimal delays.

Sounds simple, but how to achieve this? First, it requires a traffic management algorithm that will shape the traffic flows to the selected settings. Second, getting those settings right is critical, as it must match the ‘current capacity of the line’ at the time the line is being used. So that means we must measure and monitor the line capacity and adjust settings as needed to always maintain the lowest latencies possible.

Thankfully, there is a commercially available router that provides all of this and more, right out of the box, with a super-simple setup process that non-technical people describe as easy to use. The IQrouter was designed for average people and has a minimum of controls, as it automates all the aspects of measuring and adjusting the traffic management so bufferbloat is minimized at all times. It is effective on all kinds of lines, cable, fiber, VDSL, DSL, and uniquely effective on lines that vary their capacity over the day. Yes, believe it or not, plenty of ISPs have lines like that. And because line quality is critical, the IQrouter also tracks many line characteristics and presents them in a helpful Dashboard that customers can use to win arguments with the ISP around topics like outages, or excessive data loss.

IQrouter is one of the first routers to also apply latency-reduction techniques to the WiFi connections as well, as latencies can build up when pushing WiFi range limits.

You can check your bufflerbloat, or as we call it, Internet Quality grade, with our IQtest. If you get anything other than an A, you should get the highly reviewed IQrouter to achieve usable, Quality Internet.