What is Packet Loss?
Network packets, or just packets, are small units of data transported over a network. All internet communication activities involve packets, including sending and receiving emails, downloading web content, streaming videos, and listening to podcasts.
Packets are sent to their destinations along the best path possible to ensure network efficiency. A network that is configured properly and optimally can more evenly distribute its load across several pieces of hardware, enhancing performance and delivering a seamless experience for end-users.
Most internet users are blissfully unaware of packets. However, when a file refuses to download properly or a video has issues playing, users become concerned and usually get IT involved to investigate. The issue might be packet loss.
But what is packet loss, exactly?
Sometimes, a packet does not complete its journey. This loss in transit is referred to as internet packet loss. Wi-Fi packet loss is common with home wireless networks and is increasingly common nowadays with work-from-home policies, as employees lean on their home wireless networks more. The farther the packets have to travel betweem the router and device, the higher the chances of loss.
Packets that do not get through properly are a drain on the entire network, driving down network speeds and throwing off a network's throughput and bandwidth. Packet loss can also have economic consequences. Aside from having to spend on additional IT equipment and bandwidth to accommodate the lag, organizations can suffer from lower productivity because employees might be unable to carry out their everyday tasks on the job.
According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. At scale, this can escalate to as much as $140,000 per hour on the low end to as much as $540,000 per hour on the high end. Indeed, packet loss can have negative economic effects on the enterprise.