With real-time business-critical applications such as voice, video, and even the evolving metaverse demanding even more from the network layer, low latency is becoming the latest technical challenge your company faces. So, why is low latency important?

While eliminating latency isn’t technically possible, reducing it is most certainly achievable. At Securus Communications, we have rolled out a high-speed, low latency core network with multiple diverse 10G Layer-2 paths, plus helped customers reduce the latency of their LAN, WAN, Edge and Cloud Computing services.

What Is Network Latency?

Latency is the end-to-end communication delay across a network. The time between sending a piece of data (a packet) and the corresponding response is measured in milliseconds (ms) – 1/1000th of a second.

How Fast Can Data Travel?

Over a single-hop point-to-point high-speed fibre-optic network WAN link, data can travel near to the speed of light (186,000 miles/sec). The greater the distance and the more hops involved, the greater the latency.

What Is Low Latency?

Low latency is not a specific measurement of speed or delay but rather a strategy that aims to achieve the lowest possible delay across a network between point A and point B. Below are several ways that latency can be reduced;

  1. The physical paths should be as direct as possible between point A & point B.
  2. Use fibre-optic cables to transfer data via laser-light rather than legacy copper cabling transmitting data via electrical impulses.
  3. Use low-latency layer-2 hardware that can forward data using high-speed ASIC’s at wire-speed rather than slower Layer-3 devices that need to make slower routing table lookup.
  4. Use caching of L2/L3 forwarding/routing tables to reduce lag created by slow forwarding lookup.
  5. Use Local LAN, Edge Computing and Fog Computing to keep processing power as local to the user device as possible.
  6. Use hardware specifically designed for low latency data forwarding.

Why Is Low Latency Important?

Businesses and industries rely more and more on real-time applications and live streaming services for various processes such as voice calls, video meetings, diagnostic imaging, banking, navigation, weather forecasting, stock trading, research, ticket sales, collaboration, video broadcasting, and gaming. The performance of these critical real-time applications suffers when network latency increases. 

5 Reasons Why Low Latency Is Becoming Vital

Coming up are five reasons why low latency data transfer is a must for real-time business services and applications.

1. Nextgen Voice and Video Services

Nextgen Voice and Video Services

Modern businesses connect and communicate between multiple locations using voice and video more than at any time in history. High-capacity, low-latency connections are required to support Nextgen voice and video services, including those running as HD 4k/8k video quality.

With voice communications, high end-to-end network latency causes various issues, including poor voice quality, clipped speech, echo and jitter.

Real-time video streaming and video meeting services are also affected by high latency, and the problem is only getting worse due to increased video quality.

4K is ultra-high-definition digital image resolution where images are approximately 4,000 pixels wide (3840 × 2160). To put this in context, the previous generation (1080p) got its name from the image height of 1920×1080. So, 4K is higher than the standard HD, making it the next-generation image quality level. 

Without question, low-latency networks are required to keep 4K (and the merging 8k HD) real-time applications and services running at optimal performance.

2. Real-time Retail Customer Analytics

Retail analytics relies heavily on low latency connectivity to determine customer trends in real-time. Internet of Things (IoT) devices can gather and report on detailed consumer data, from which retail businesses can assess everything from current footfall to buying trends. 

Often, this data is computed in real-time, before the customer has even left the physical or online store. Delay can result in slowed data processing, reduced customer experience, and lost sales opportunities. Edge computing plays a significant part in ensuring latency is kept to a minimum for these vital retail systems. 

The same analytics also identify precise purchasing patterns, influencing internal processes like marketing campaigns and warehouse management. Retailers use these analytics to identify and predict in-store buying trends as they are happening and can adapt their operations accordingly. Later, the data is sent for more intensive processing via the Cloud so retail enterprises can foresee future trends, marketing strategies, and procurement.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning also play a role in sales and marketing by eliminating time-consuming tasks that traditionally kept sales staff away from customers. Many accounting and marketing functions, then, become automated and enable retailers to capture predictive analytics, which they can then apply towards forecasting and identifying customer preferences and purchasing habits. As you can imagine, a low-latency network is essential to maintain real-time data analytics with AI. 

3. IIoT Sensors and Real-time Manufacturing

 IIoT Sensors and Real-time Manufacturing

Beyond retail, IoT technology plays a vital role in manufacturing, so much so that the common term is Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). IIoT is a subset of IoT that is transforming manufacturing. Using smart devices in their factories, manufacturers can use IIoT technology to access a massive amount of data in real-time, analyse and apply.

Smart devices are part of a more extensive network of intelligent objects and computers that share information to increase automation and efficiency through analytics. Industrial devices communicate with one another, and the corresponding technologies collect, exchange, and monitor data, enabling the network to analyse and report insights that drive business decisions.

The IIoT uses these smart sensors and actuators to enhance industrial and manufacturing processes, which aids companies in generating and using analytics in real-time. Altogether, companies can use IIoT to identify and troubleshoot inefficiencies quickly, saving them valuable production time and money. Increased efficiencies also mean better quality control, green practices, supply chain efficiency, and asset tracking.

For IIoT devices and applications to perform in real-time, a high-capacity low-latency network is imperative to ensure ultra-fast data transfer and processing is possible.

4. Autonomous Vehicles

Sooner than most of us realise, we’ll be sharing the road with fully autonomous vehicles. A self-driving vehicle can be cost-efficient, safer, and more reliable when leveraging the power of Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), which is enabled by the low latency feature of 5G.

Currently, 4G LTE network technologies provide improved automotive safety bringing together connected vehicle technology, associated infrastructure, pedestrians, and more using MEC processing. By upgrading to 5G, latency is reduced further, increasing real-time safety and reliability. Whenever we reach the point where self-driving cars are ubiquitous, 5G and connected cars can benefit drivers, passengers, communities, and businesses.

While autonomous driving can be enabled without 5G, the availability of low latency, 5G networks make self-driving cars all the more viable, especially when combined with machine learning models running on MEC. Such models can interpret traffic using advanced artificial intelligence. 

MEC supports them by accessing traffic data around the self-driving vehicle. Connectivity inside the vehicles must be robust, so low latency network connectivity is critical as the car must interact with its immediate surroundings and interpret data from its environment.

5. Virtual Reality and the Metaverse

Virtual Reality and the Metaverse

The evolving definition of the metaverse is that it is an online digital social space where people can work, play, socialise, and collaborate across devices. Using apps and games, users can enter virtual environments of interconnected worlds, often using Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and smart glasses. Some consider the metaverse a more significant leap of technology than the internet itself. 

Users can also create digital avatars that navigate these worlds by interacting with the web. Beyond gaming, metaverses have far-reaching implications for business enterprises. Metaverses are the next generation of meeting place where people can conduct official business through the use of software, hardware, and other technologies.

Much of the processing required to drive the metaverse’s virtual and augmented reality exists in the Cloud so users can access the metaverse from any location. 

For users to enjoy a smooth metaverse experience, end-to-end communications must operate with low latency. As metaverse technologies emerge, we foresee Edge computing as a necessary technology enhancement. Edge computing provides rapid response times and reduces latency for mission-critical tasks and heavy workloads. 

Furthermore, Edge computing is hybrid cloud technology, so it enables businesses to tailor cloud strategies to fit their needs. Edge computing is key to developing an appropriate framework for a low latency system for metaverse applications. 

Conclusion

With the evolution of remote working, retail analytics and IIoT for manufacturing, the real-time services that make this a reality require low latency network communications. Additionally, applications such as autonomous vehicles rely on low-latency networks to ensure driver safety.

Technology is advancing at an incredible rate, and what was previously science-fiction has now become science-fact. Businesses that do not take low latency communications as a serious must-have could get left behind.

If you would like to understand more about the low latency WAN, SD-WAN, Edge, Fog and Cloud solutions that Securus Communications has available and how they can help your business, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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