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Jitter Definition

Jitter refers to the variation in the delay of received packets in broadband internet networks. Jitter commonly impacts the quality of voice and video calls, as inconsistent packet arrival times can lead to audio and video disruptions.

Jitter and latency are often compared when evaluating network performance; jitter refers to the variability in packet arrival times, while latency signifies the time taken for a packet to travel from sender to receiver.

The term jitter is relevant in areas including digital communication, networking, real-time applications, VoIP, video streaming and telecommunications.

Usage examples Origin Current use

Jitter Usage Examples

During the video conference, high jitter led to choppy audio and disrupted video, making it difficult for participants to follow the conversation.
After analyzing the network performance, the IT department found excessive jitter in the company's VoIP system, prompting them to implement a jitter buffer to improve call quality.

Background & Industry Context

Jitter was first recognized as an issue in telephony in the early 1900s. Over time, its importance has grown as communication systems became digital and more sensitive to timing variations, especially in real-time applications like VoIP and video streaming.

Internet users who rely on real-time applications like video conferencing need low jitter levels to maintain a smooth experience.

Jitter continues to be a thorn in the side of real-time applications, pushing network engineers to improve infrastructure and minimize disruptions for consumers relying on smooth streaming and gaming experiences.

Causes of Jitter

Various factors contribute to jitter in digital communication networks, including network congestion, poor synchronization, and equipment limitations.

By far the most common places jitter is noticed by average users is during video calls and gaming.

Jitter Impact on Real-time Applications

Jitter can have a significant impact on real-time applications, such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and video streaming. When jitter causes delays in packet arrival times, it may lead to choppy audio or video, dropped frames, or out-of-sync playback.

For a seamless user experience, it is critical to manage jitter and maintain low latency in digital communication networks.

Jitter Mitigation Techniques

examples of techniques used to mitigate jitter include implementing quality of service (QoS) policies, deploying jitter buffers at the receiver end, and optimizing network routing.

By applying jitter mitigation strategies, broadband service providers can enhance the quality of real-time applications, such as VoIP and video streaming, and improve the overall user experience. The best jitter-deterrent available to regular internet users is, as always, to simply turn the router and devices off and back on again.

Jitter Mitigation in an Always-On World

As real-time applications like VoIP, video conferencing, and online gaming become more widespread, jitter mitigation will become even more essential in ensuring a smooth user experience and maintaining network performance.

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Page Summary
  • Jitter refers to the variation in latency or delay of packets in a communication network.
  • VoIP calls, video conferencing, and online gaming are examples of real-time applications that are sensitive to jitter and require low latency for optimal performance.
  • Buffering techniques can be employed to mitigate jitter and provide a smoother user experience.

Jameson Zimmer
Broadband Market Analyst
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Last Update: April 19, 2023
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