Definition

packet loss

Packet loss is the failure of one or more transmitted packets to arrive at their destination. This event can cause noticeable effects in all types of digital communications.

The effects of packet loss:

  • In data, packet loss produces errors.
  • In videoconference environments it can create jitter.
  • In pure audio communications, such as VoIP, it can cause jitter and frequent gaps in received speech.
  • In the worst cases, packet loss can cause severe mutilation of received data, broken-up images, unintelligible speech or even the complete absence of a received signal.

The causes of packet loss include inadequate signal strength at the destination, natural or human-made interference, excessive system noise, hardware failure, software corruption or overburdened network nodes. Often more than one of these factors is involved.

In a case where the cause can not be remedied, packet loss concealment may be used to minimize the effects of lost packets.

This was last updated in May 2007

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