Behind the scenes, pretty much everything we do online comes down to sending and receiving information between our devices and other parts of the internet. The sooner that information can get to where it needs to go, the smoother your online experience will be.
If you’ve even experienced one of those frustrating video calls where your friends keep freezing, you’ll know how important this type of performance can be.
To test for this type of delay in your connection, your device can send a signal to another device and then measure how long it takes for that signal to travel there and back again. This signal is called a ping.
Ping vs latency: What’s the difference?
Latency is a measurement for how long it takes information to travel from one device to another, and then back again. It is typically measured in milliseconds. Ping, on the other hand, is the signal your device uses to test the latency of its connection to another device. For example, if your ping takes 150 milliseconds to go to its destination and back, you have a latency of 150 milliseconds on that connection.
All of that said, don’t be surprised if you hear people using these two terms interchangeably. People often say ping when they really mean latency, to the point where many people no longer even make the distinction.
What is a ping test?
If you want to get a sense for what latency you are getting on your device, there are free ping tests available online. For example, the AT&T Speed test tool is available for free on att.com. It will not only tell you your latency, but also your download speed, upload speed, and other information about your connection.
Why does ping matter?
Ping is a crucial way of understanding your latency, which lets you know how much of a delay you can expect in communications between your device and other parts of the internet.
For example, if you’re playing an online game, anytime you press a button, you’ll need to wait for that information to travel to the game’s server and back before it can have any impact on your gaming experience. If that journey takes a long time, it’s going to cause some serious lag, and you’re probably going to lose.
This article is AT&T and sponsored content written by Matt Johnsen, an AT&T employee and a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are his own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.