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How to Calculate Expected Round Trip Time?

Last Updated : 11 Sep, 2023
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Round-trip time (RTT) is a critical metric in computer networks that measures the time it takes for a data packet to travel from a source to a destination and back again. It plays a crucial role in various networking protocols and is used to determine network performance, estimate latency, and optimize data transmission. Calculating the expected Round Trip Time can help network administrators and engineers assess network efficiency, diagnose issues, and implement appropriate improvements. In this article, we will explore the concept of RTT and provide a step-by-step guide on how to calculate the expected Round Trip Time effectively.

What is Round-Trip Time?

Round Trip Time (RTT) is the time taken for a signal or packet to travel from a source to a destination and then back to the source. It includes the time taken for propagation, transmission, and processing delays. RTT is measured in milliseconds (ms) and is a crucial factor in determining the latency of a network. It is used in various networking protocols, such as TCP/IP, to adjust transmission rates and manage congestion.


Key Terminology

  • Round Trip Time (RTT): It is the time it takes for a signal or packet to travel from a source to a destination and back to the source. RTT includes propagation, transmission, and processing delays and is measured in milliseconds (ms).
  • Latency: It refers to the time delay experienced in a network communication, often measured as the RTT.
  • Network Performance: Network performance refers to the overall quality, efficiency, and reliability of a computer network.
  • Packet Loss: Packet loss occurs when data packets fail to reach their intended destination.
  • Congestion: Network congestion refers to a situation where the demand for network resources exceeds the available capacity, leading to degraded performance.
  • Smoothing Factor (α): The smoothing factor, also known as the weight or coefficient, is a constant value used in the formula to calculate the expected RTT.

Steps To Calculate the Expected Round Trip Time

Step 1: Select a Destination. Identify the target device or destination for which you want to calculate the expected RTT. This can be an IP address or a domain name.

Step 2: Choose a Measurement Tool. Select a suitable measurement tool or utility that can help you measure the Round Trip Time accurately. There are several tools available, such as ping, traceroute, or network monitoring software.

Step 3: Open the Command Prompt (Windows) or Terminal (Mac/Linux). To access the ping command, you need to open the command prompt on Windows or the terminal on Mac/Linux. You can do this by searching for “Command Prompt” or “Terminal” in the respective operating system’s search bar.

Step 4: Enter the Ping Command. In the command prompt or terminal, type the following command: ping <target> (replace <target> with the IP address or domain name of your target device).

Step 5: Initiate the Ping Test. Now, Press the Enter key to execute the ping command. The utility will start sending ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) echo request packets to the target device.

Step 6: Observe the Results. As the ping utility sends packets, it records the Round Trip Time for each packet received. The utility will display the results for each packet sent, along with the statistics at the end of the test. Look for the “Average” or “Avg” value in the statistics, as it represents the average Round Trip Time.

Step 7: Calculate the Expected RTT. The average Round Trip Time displayed in the ping statistics is an estimation of the expected RTT.

Step 8: Repeat the Process (Optional)

To obtain a more accurate estimate of the expected RTT, you can repeat the ping test multiple times and calculate the average of all the Round Trip Times obtained.


Formula to calculating the expected Round Trip Time

Expected RTT = (1 - α) * Previous RTT + α * Sample RTT


  • Previous RTT: The RTT value from the previous measurement.
  • Sample RTT: The RTT value obtained from the latest measurement.
  • α (alpha): A constant smoothing factor (typically between 0 and 1) used to balance the influence of previous and current RTT values. It determines how much weight is given to the latest measurement.


Let’s assume we have the following values:

Previous RTT = 50 ms 
Sample RTT = 60 ms
α = 0.2
Using the formula, we can calculate the expected RTT as follows:
Expected RTT = (1 - 0.2) * 50 ms + 0.2 * 60 ms
Expected RTT = 0.8 * 50 ms + 0.2 * 60 ms
Expected RTT = 40 ms + 12 ms
Expected RTT = 52 ms

Calculating the expected Round Trip Time is essential for assessing network performance and diagnosing network-related issues. By using tools like the ping command, network administrators and engineers can determine the latency of a network and make informed decisions to optimize data transmission. Remember that the expected RTT can vary depending on the network conditions and the target device’s location. Regularly monitoring the RTT and making adjustments accordingly can help maintain a robust and efficient network infrastructure.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What statistical distributions can be used to model the distribution of RTT values, and how do you choose the most appropriate one for a given network?

Explain the use of statistical distributions like the normal distribution, log-normal distribution, or others to model RTT. Discuss the factors that influence the choice of distribution in specific network scenarios.

2. How do you handle outliers and anomalies in RTT measurements when calculating the expected RTT, and what impact can they have on the accuracy of the estimate?

Address the challenges posed by outliers or anomalous RTT measurements and how they can skew the expected RTT calculation. Describe robust statistical techniques or filtering methods to mitigate their effects.

3. In the context of network paths with multiple hops and varying RTT values, how do you calculate the expected RTT for the entire path, and what considerations are involved in aggregating RTT values?

Discuss the aggregation of RTT values along a multi-hop network path, including the weighting of individual RTTs and factors such as packet loss, queuing delays, and routing complexity.

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