If I send 5bytes over a 1mbps connection will that travel faster than 500bytes. Or is the latency after propagation going to be constant since the packet is under 1mb?

If you downvote because you think I didn't look into the question enough, I understand you doing so but I did. I haven't been able to wrap my brain around this or find something that has explained data rates in such a way that this clicked.

  • 3
    The bandwidth has nothing to do with it because it is a constant. Think about sending five gallons through a pipe vs. sending 500 gallons through the same size pipe. The first bit of water reaches the end at the same time in either case, but the last bit of water will leave the pipe in a shorter amount of time for the five gallons vs. the 500 gallons. The first five bytes of each segment takes the same amount of time to send from one end to the other.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 2:16
  • Fantastic metaphor, thanks @RonMaupin
    – adamscott
    Commented May 19, 2020 at 15:41
  • Did any answer help you? If so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you can post and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Dec 17, 2020 at 17:25

2 Answers 2


All bits on a link / in a certain path travel at the same overall speed. The packet size doesn't matter.

Larger packets have longer serialization delay though since 1000 bytes take twice the time of 500 bytes. However, if you send 2x 500 bytes it'll take pretty much the same as 1x 1000 bytes. (Only "pretty much the same" because smaller packets cause more overhead.)


TCP regulates data rate throughput by use of a sliding window. This is for flow control and to give time for the client to resend packets that were lost in transmission. the window moves forward when it ACK's a segment.

TCP data is delivered as a stream, that means if a client sends 1000 bytes there is no way to know whether TCP will do ten 100 byte segments or one 1000 byte segment.

sending 1 large packet will be faster then sending 10 smaller packets.

however, 1 large packet vs 1 small packet will be the same time or same overall speed.

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