Knowledgebase: General

High latency and packet loss for access from China

Posted by Marc Füßlein, Last modified by Matthias Haarmann on 19 January 2023 12:20

If one wants to access Western websites, applications and services from mainland China, one quickly has to realize that this is only possible very slowly. The conclusion that the geographical distance and thus the longer packet runtimes are solely responsible for this is obvious. However, this turns out to be a fallacy on closer inspection.

In addition to the latency of the data packets, the packet loss rate is also important for the duration of the transmission. If a data packet is lost on the way to the user in China, it must be requested again from the Western server and transmitted to China once more. With very high packet loss rates, this process may have to be repeated several times until the data packet finally arrives in China. Even a comparatively low latency can thus multiply quickly and lead to very long loading times overall. This is exactly the case for data transmission through the Chinese firewall: With 20 to 40 percent packet losses, it is almost irrelevant how high the actual latency of the data packets is. Especially for images, videos and larger documents, which require several hundred data packets for complete transmission, this results in extremely high loading times from China.

When looking at latencies and packet loss rates from Chinese users, you should also not rely on a snapshot: China's western Internet connection is very unreliable and this brings strong fluctuations in latencies and packet loss rates. Especially during Chinese peak hours, the quality of data transmission with Western providers is particularly poor.

Often, the first step is nevertheless to try to reduce the geographical distance and thus the latencies by running Western web applications on servers in Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. While this is financially attractive, in reality it quickly turns out that the performance for users in China is not significantly improved by this. Compared to a server in Europe, latency can be reduced by 30 to 50 percent, but the packet loss rate remains high. This is due to the fact that Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau are not part of mainland China and are therefore also located behind the Great Firewall of China, which is the main cause of the large number of packet losses. If we analyze the latencies of servers near China and servers in Europe in more detail, we find that the Chinese firewall also has a significant impact on latencies. Otherwise, packet runtimes in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau would have to be even lower.

Therefore, to significantly and reliably improve performance for Chinese users, it is necessary to host the web application in mainland China or create a stable connection between Chinese users and the Western server. With the hosting solutions of China, you can achieve exactly that.

Hosting solutions of China

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