Latency is more important to the speed of web page loads than link speed

Most people think that their Internet line speed should be as high as possible so things load faster and work better. But that’s like thinking that if I have a car that can do 200MPH, I can cross Atlanta metro area three times as fast as a car that only does 65 MPH. The realities of traffic, stoplights, local congestion and many other factors will actually normalize the differences away. And one can even see a case where the slower top-speed vehicle could beat the other if it took a path with fewer lights and delays.
So while top-speed is relevant in some scenarios, in the day to day, having fewer delays is much more beneficial.

It’s the same on the internet, where having low latencies (less delay) can actually lead to a scenario where a 6Mbps DSL line can actually beat a 15Mbps line at loading a web page. Seriously, it can and does. Let’s see how.

Remember that web pages create anywhere from dozens to hundreds of individual requests for information that make up a page. If each one of those has to wait a long time for a response, it doesn’t matter how ‘fast’ that response is downloaded at; the total time to get the page will be much longer. Let’s see an example using a 6Mbps line and a 15Mbps line:

High Latency 15mbps line

If the 15Mbps line has an average of 250ms of latency and a 5% packet loss rate, then the time to load the home page is 42 seconds.

Low Latency 6mbps line

Compared to a 6Mbps line with 23ms of latency and 3% packet loss, we can load the page in 7.9 seconds, or 5.3 times faster than the 15M line!

And even if both lines had the exact same latency values, the ‘more than twice as fast’ 15Mbps line would load the page only 23% faster. So a true measure of ‘fast’ accounts for a mix of capacity and latency. More capacity alone will not make things go faster if you already have high latency.

And some routers allow horrendous amounts of latency (also known as Bufferbloat), the example above used a conservative value, in real-life, we’ve observed averages of over 2,000ms (that’s 2 seconds worth), The maxes were in the 6,000 to 8,000 range. That’s more than six seconds lag on a given request!

So the first and most urgent thing to address on any internet connection is the latency, as that has the biggest impact.

As these diagrams illustrate, as latencies increase, page load time increases at a linear rate. However, increasing the download speed results in a non-linear rate of improvement in page load times. So controlling latency is more important than download speed in terms of both measured time and user perception of page loads.


The good news is that with the right router, you can dramatically reduce those latencies down to manageable or even excellent levels. This results in pages that load quickly, smooth streaming and great Skype call quality.

So ‘speed’ of internet interactions are heavily influenced by latency, and the IQrouter is the only router that works round the clock to analyze your line and adapt to it to deliver the lowest possible latencies and therefore highest quality and the quickest possible results at that time. 

You can check your line now with our handy IQtest, which will test and grade your line based on the level of latency under load it finds

Note that we are talking about the latencies while the line is loaded (which happens when big pages load or there is other traffic already on the link), many tests report the baseline ‘ping’ latency, and usually this is the ‘idle’ latency of your service. The lower this is the better, but not much under your control can impact that value. However, the latencies under load generated by the bufferbloat are controllable with the right router. So the numbers referenced above are based on average latencies from a bloated line and ISP router.