All these terms are quite related but I couldn't understand when to use which. I often hear that some networks have low bandwidth and high ping rate for online gaming. I thought they might be inversely proportional but that's not the case. When someone introduces "high ping and low ping" it becomes more confusing. What are they?

2 Answers 2


Ping is a utility to test network connectivity. It uses ICMP echo request/reply to do this. The originating host sends an ICMP echo request, and the receiving host sends an ICMP echo reply. There are several messages which may be returned:

  • The target host could reply, and you have a successful ping.
  • If a certain time period passes before receiving a message, you get a timeout. This is caused by the host on a different network not replying (firewall, target down, unidirectional routing, etc.) during the allotted time period.
  • You could get a destination unreachable message, meaning that the layer-3 address could not be resolved to the layer-2 address. This implies that either the host is on the same network, and it did not respond to ARP, or if the host is on a different network, the configured gateway for your host is down or misconfigured.
  • You could get a network unreachable message, meaning the host is on a different network, and a router in the path has no route to the network for the target host.

Most ping programs run the ping several times, and they return a round-trip ICMP network latency. The Ping program usually gives you the number of packets sent, received, lost, and the loss percent, along with the lowest, highest, and average ping latency. Unfortunately, this is often confused with a real network latency, but the two may not be related on a network with multiple hops, especially the Internet where ICMP is often delayed or rerouted, unlike other traffic. ICMP is not the protocol used for most data communications, and the latency returned by ping may not reflect any other application latency.

Bandwidth is only indirectly related to latency. The bandwidth on an unloaded network has nothing at all to do with the latency. The real network latency is due mostly to network congestion, and bandwidth plays the largest part in that for busy networks. Latency reflect the aggregation of distance latency, and the latency added by network devices in the path. The largest component of the latency is by the network devices, due to congestion on the network, and a busy connection causes congestion.

  • Suppose I've a network with very high latency..Does it affect bandwidth?
    – defalt
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:27
  • No. Bandwidth is what it is. If you have high latency, there is network congestion somewhere in the path from the source to the destination, or you are trying to go a very long distance. If your link to or from your ISP is congested, that could cause high latency, but the bandwidth of the link remains the same. The bandwidth is how many bits the link can transfer per second,. If you have multiple streams of data trying to use the same link, it can become congested, receiving more bits per second than its bandwidth (what it can send).
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:31
  • Case-2: Suppose I've network with high ping rate..does it affect latency and bandwidth or either of them?
    – defalt
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:37
  • 1
    @user334283, the thing about ping (ICMP) latency is that some people want to relate it to how other applications perform, and that is just a fallacy. Your ping latency may not have anything at all to do with how another application performs. ICMP is usually relegated to the lowest priority, and it can end up sitting in queues while other, real traffic is sent through. Some ISPs will route it in a different path than your other traffic, sending it the long way around, or through secondary connections. What ping tells you is that you can connect, not how applications will perform.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 19, 2016 at 9:41
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    @user334283, that is a myth perpetuated by people who don't understand the difference between ICMP and other data. ICMP is not TCP or UDP, which are the protocols most applications use. You could have a high ping latency, but your application has a good latency. People want to relate one to the other, but it is apples and oranges.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 19, 2016 at 11:05

Ping or ping rate, the name of the network diagnostic tool, used to test whether traffic can get through or not. Having a low ping is always desirable because lower latency provides smoother gameplay by allowing faster updates of game data. For more:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping_(video_gaming)

Latency is the amount of time, it takes a packet to travel from source to destination, which is normally expressed in milliseconds. While bandwidth is normally expressed in bits per second. It's the amount of data that can be transferred during a second.

In short, bandwidth is a measure of capacity. Latency is a measure of delay.

If you’re downloading huge files, you probably care more about bandwidth than latency. If you’re trying to watch high-definition video, both are equally important. If you’re playing an online game, latency may be far more important than bandwidth.

  • 3
    Ping measures ICMP latency, and that may not reflect at all the latency by any other application. ICMP is not TCP or UDP, and it is often treated much differently in a network, or even rerouted,, especially the Internet.
    – Ron Maupin
    Aug 19, 2016 at 6:49

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