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What is Jitter? (And How to Fix It)

What is jitter?

The internet is only as good as it is smooth. You are golden if it enables you to experience crystal-clear audio calls, lag-free video games, and buffer-free streaming. On the other hand, if you have the misfortune of experiencing distorted calls, laggy games, or never-ending buffering, you are bound to suffer.

Network jitter is one of the renowned evils of the internet that causes these things to happen. You might be comfortably enjoying your favorite game or talking to your friends when suddenly the game starts to lag or the call drops; this is what jitter does to you.

For your ease, we thought to shed light on the concept of jitter, what causes it, and how you can fix jitter to improve your internet experience. So, without any further delay, let’s get down to business.

What is Jitter?

You should know that the traffic over the internet travels in data packets. And these data packets travel in intervals. And when these data packets are delayed or arrive in irregular intervals, you are left with lag, buffer, and distortion. And this sums up the meaning of jitter.

To better understand what is jitter, imagine sending four packets of jitter, A, B, C, and D. Now, if these packets are transferred at regular intervals of 10, 20, 30, and 40, then there is nothing to worry about.

In contrast, if the same data packets are transmitted at intervals 12, 21, 29, and 35, then the pattern would be irregular. Ultimately, you would need to suffer through the internet’s three horrors: lag, buffering issues, and distortion.

Furthermore, it would help if you familiarized yourself with internet protocols or IPs for short. Your IP transmits information over the internet in data packets, be it packets of audio, video, or any other format. When you are talking to your friend over Skype or any other audio calling tool, the result of your voice lands on their device in the form of these data packets. If the data packets arrive at irregular intervals, you and your friend will have trouble understanding what the other person is saying.

Types of Jitter

You need not only know what is jitter; you also need to know about the different types of jitter to be better equipped to fix it. Here are the three types of jitter that you need to know about:

Random

Also known as Gaussian jitter, Random jitter is probably the hardest to diagnose. As the name suggests, it does not follow a pattern but appears randomly. It contains unpredictable electronic timing noise and may be due to thermal noise in the electrical circuit. Additionally, random jitter may also be caused by problems in clock timing.

Deterministic

The second category of jitter is Deterministic jitter. Unlike Random jitter, Deterministic jitter follows somewhat of a pattern and can be predicted to some extent. It is often narrow-bound and periodic. It is usually caused by a specific reason, which might cause it to occur repeatedly. As a result, Deterministic jitter is relatively easier to identify and rectify.

Total Jitter

Total jitter is a combination of the previous two jitters. It contains both unbounded (random) and bounded (deterministic)  jitter components. Thus, calculating the Total jitter requires turning to a mathematical formula that calculates the Total jitter using the Bit Error Ratio (BER).

How does Jitter Affect You?

Jitter affects users in different ways. And it depends on what you are doing at the time. If you are playing video games, jitter will frustrate you differently; if you are talking to a friend, it will create different problems, and so on.

Each type of activity can tolerate a different level of jitter. Sometimes, you might not even notice that you have jitter because you are merely browsing a web page. On the other hand, even the tiniest bit of jitter while streaming a movie online can create significant problems. Let us explain how jitter affects three major online activities.

Gaming

Jitter is one of the evilest things you can encounter while playing games online. It can cost you critical goal shots, headshots and even make you lose the entire game for your team. However, the gameplay can be adjusted according to the existing jitter since some jitter will always be there.

For example, if your games have regular jitter, you can adjust your overall gameplay. You can figure the response time in your game and take measures accordingly. In contrast, if jitter constantly fluctuates, it can be quite difficult to adjust to it.

Streaming

Jitter while video streaming is somewhat different. The video stream is coming from a single source towards you, and the overall experience is constant; the movie will show what is predetermined, nothing else. This is not the case in an online game; different outcomes can arise. Thus, the jitter in streaming might not bother you as much. Additionally, jitter can be ignored entirely if the streaming service holds a significant buffer memory or cache.

VoIP

Lastly, there is jitter in VoIP or Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP is the technology that enables you to enjoy audio and video calls with other people online. Usually, VoIP technology should not have any jitter since the traffic is bidirectional. But this also means that even the tiniest bit of jitter can cause severe distortions in audio and video calls. And in extreme cases, it can result in dropped calls because the jitter is too high.

What Causes Jitter?

Several reasons cause jitter while you use the internet. And you would need to run an internet jitter test to diagnose it better. Only then will you be able to come up with a practical solution. Mainly, these are the reasons that you might be experiencing jitter:

Wireless Networks

Connecting to a wireless network allows access to the internet on the go and rids you of the need to connect through tangled cables. But this mobility comes at a cost. A wireless network will likely offer a weaker signal strength. In other words, your calls, games, and streams might suffer while you are connected wirelessly since there is a relatively higher jitter on the network.

Network Congestion

Another cause of jitter in your internet connection might be the crowd density on the same IP. If too many users are connected to the same network, you will likely experience higher jitter. Let’s look at it this way; if ten cars on a single-lane road would have a relatively difficult time moving compared to when a single car is moving on the same road. Thus, you should always check if any unnecessary devices are connected to the network.

Poor Network Configuration

Lastly, it might also be the poor configuration of your hardware or software. If the connection is flawed, to begin with, then you will experience a deteriorated connection performance. Thus, you should always keep your router firmware updated and replace any damaged Ethernet cables if it is a wired connection.

How to Fix Jitter?

Luckily, there are ways to reduce jitter in your internet connection. After you run a jitter internet test using a jitter test tool online, you will likely need to turn to these solutions below:

Switch to a Wired Connection

Going old-school is the best way to reduce jitter in your internet connection. While connecting through an Ethernet cable seems haunting, a wired connection can never be beaten by a wireless connection.

A wireless connection may be affected by physical objects in the transmission line, dead spots in the building, or too much distance from the router. On the other hand, a wired connection is free from such problems. No matter where you may be in the building or how far away you may be from the source, you won’t have any issues as long as the Ethernet cable is connected to your device.

Switch to High-Speed Internet

You might have subscribed to a particular internet service provider (ISP) back in the day since it was the only dependable option available near you. However, countless reliable internet service providers have emerged, and you ought to consider switching to another ISP if your current internet service is failing you. You could get an internet plan with better internet speeds and higher bandwidth to resolve your problem instantly.

Upgrade Your Internet Router

If you prefer using the internet wirelessly, then your internet router plays a vital role. And if that internet router is flawed, outdated, or overloaded, you can experience severe jitter. Depending upon the type of internet usage you have, you should consider shopping for better internet routers. While casual browsing can be done with a basic router, online gaming and video streaming require a more powerful internet router.

Add a Buffer Device to the Connection

A buffer device can also help you out if you are experiencing jitter. The buffer device adds a delay to the data packet transmission and stores them when received. And this storage is released at the right intervals, ultimately making the experience smoother. Buffer devices are best suited for VoIP. The buffer device can store voice data packets and release the data packets at correct intervals so you do not have to experience distorted calls.

Connect through a VPN Service

Interestingly, a VPN service such as Ivacy VPN can help you. A VPN lets you connect to a remote server while masking your original IP address. Switching IP addresses through Ivacy VPN can surely help you out if you are connected to a network or IP that is overcrowded. Here is how you can connect through Ivacy VPN:

  • Sign up for an Ivacy VPN paid plan.
  • Download and install the Ivacy VPN client on the device you are using.
  • Log in to Ivacy VPN using the Ivacy VPN login credentials.
  • Once logged in, connect to a server in your preferred region.
  • Once connected, you can access a smoother internet with reduced jitter on the network.

And what’s more is that Ivacy VPN can also help unblock geo-restricted content. So, if you want to stream content from different regions worldwide, connect to a server in those regions through Ivacy VPN and stream effortlessly.

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How much Jitter is Acceptable?

It all depends on what you are doing online. While some activities can bear minor jitter, others cannot even tolerate a fraction of that jitter. Moreover, the intensity and frequency of the jitter also play a vital role. If the jitter appears predictably, you can adjust according to it. However, the problem can be serious if the jitter is sudden and in huge spikes.

Ideally, the jitter should be capped at 30ms (milliseconds). Once the jitter surpasses this threshold, you will start to experience its effects on your connection. Simultaneously, your internet connection’s packet loss should not exceed 1%. And let’s not forget that your latency is also equally important. Thus, it should also stay below 300ms for a round trip. And if you wish to diagnose all these factors of your internet connection, we recommend you run a jitter speed test using the tools available online.

Jitter vs Latency

People often confuse jitter with latency, while the two are pretty different. Latency is the overall delay in the transmission of the data packets. In contrast, jitter is the interval fluctuation when the data packets are transmitted from one device to another. To better understand what is jitter and what is latency, have a look at these pointers below:

Jitter

  • Jitter is caused by overcrowded networks, poorly configured connections, and possible wireless connections.
  • Jitter may be overcome using Ethernet cables, buffer devices, or switching to a high-speed internet connection.

Latency

  • Latency is caused by network routing and buffering.
  • You can resolve latency issues by upgrading your internet connection and disconnecting any unnecessary devices from the network.

To Put It All Together

There you have it, folks – these are all the essential things you need to know about what is jitter and how to fix it. And remember, some amount of jitter will always be there, and if it is predictable, you can take measures accordingly. However, if there are significant random spikes in jitter, you might want to resort to the abovementioned solutions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is good jitter?

Ideally, a jitter of 30ms (milliseconds) is something that you can work with. If the jitter goes beyond 30ms, you will need to rectify the problem using the abovementioned solutions.

What is jitter in simple words?

In simple words, jitter is the deviation from the regular intervals in data packet transmission. If the data packets are delivered in intervals of 11, 19, and 26 instead of 10, 20, and 30, then you are dealing with a jitter.

What is normal ping and jitter?

Typically, your ping or latency should be below 300ms for a round trip. And your jitter should not go above 30ms.

Why is jitter important?

Jitter is an essential metric for determining the quality of the network. If the jitter is too high during audio and video calls, the call quality will be poor. Similarly, the game will lag if the jitter is too high while playing a video game online.

Does jitter affect the internet speed?

As discussed previously, jitter is the delay in the regular intervals of data packet transmission. You will not feel a thing if there is minor jitter in your internet connection. However, if the jitter is too high, it will affect your internet’s performance. Still, it all depends on what you are doing online.

Which internet jitter test is good?

If you want to test internet jitter in your internet connection, you can turn to online tools such as the Ookla Speed Test.

Why is my ping so high but my internet is good?

If your ping is constantly high, then it is possible that your internet plan cannot bear the burden that you are putting on it. You might want to get a faster and more robust internet plan. Also, a higher number of devices connected to the same network can cause you to experience higher pings even if your internet is good.

How do I reduce jitter on the internet?

You can do the following to reduce jitter on the internet:

  • Switch to a wired internet connection using an Ethernet cable.
  • Kick off any unnecessary devices connected to your network.
  • Avoid transferring large files while playing a game, talking through VoIP, or streaming a video.
  • Add a buffer device to your connection.
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