When we ping a major web site, we're roughly measuring the delay between our device and the geographic location of the server that the site has chosen to send us to. It really could be anywhere. but let's just say it's 1000 kilometers of fiber plus some copper plus some air (if I'm using my phone to ping) away from us.
(The server could be only 10 km away from us but the packets are going through a far-away big city)
If I use 2E+05 km/sec for the speed of signal in fiber or wire (from this question) then the round trip is roughly 10 milliseconds.
OK so this is my first question here on Network Engineering SE and it's a little esoteric, but I think it's valid. For this type of "medium distance" connection in a part of the world with modern internet infrastructure, what fraction of a ping time comes from propagation delay, and what fraction comes from electronic buffering in routers, encoders/decoders, etc. along the way?
Another way to look at this is from the perspective of storage. During that ping time, your ping is either stored:
in some DRAM or SRAM (or even worse sometimes - FLASH and Magnetic HD's)
as an electromagnetic wave traveling down a fiber or in the air
as a current pulse traveling in a cable or circuit board or chip.
While every situation is different, more often than not our data spends most of it's time as an electromagnetic wave or traveling current pulse. But is it typically 99.99% of the time, or 95%, or 51%?
Loosely speaking - at any moment in time how much of "the internet" is sitting in a buffer?