I love the internet. Unfortunately, my ISP doesn't always deliver. I am a customer with Time Warner Cable and I have, on occasion, found that latency is super high or that I don't have a connection at all. These occurrences are not frequent enough to call Time Warner about but they are annoying. For the record, I would consider switching ISPs, but I don't have any other options. Time Warner is the only ISP available where I live.

In order to empower myself a bit, I decided to take measurements of my ping time for a month and determine how bad my situation is. Maybe my brushes with latency and timeouts were anomalies.


Round trip ping times were collected by an Arduino with an ethernet shield. The IP address to which all UDP requests were sent was This IP address is one of the IP addresses for Google's DNS servers.

The Arduino was run from Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:54:04 GMT until Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:41:51 GMT.

The software loaded onto the Arduino can be downloaded by clicking here.

Analysis and Results

import numpy as np
import pandas as pd
import datetime
df_raw ='data.csv')
df_raw.columns=['timestamp', 'ping']
def isnotint(val):
        return False
        return True
# Probably a better way to do this. Would love to know.
timeout_indices = df_raw['ping'].map(isnotint)
df_clean = df_raw.copy(deep=True)
df_clean.loc[timeout_indices, 'ping'] = 0
df_clean['timestamp'] = df_clean['timestamp'].map(datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp)
df_clean['ping']= df_clean['ping'].map(int) # Probably a better way to do this.
timestamp    datetime64[ns]
ping                  int64
dtype: object
df_timeouts = df_raw.copy(deep=True)
df_timeouts.loc[np.invert(timeout_indices), 'ping'] = 0
# Make timeout pings equal size and 25% longer than the longest ping time recorded.
df_timeouts.loc[timeout_indices, 'ping'] = df_clean['ping'].max() * 1.25
df_timeouts['timestamp'] = df_timeouts['timestamp'].map(datetime.datetime.fromtimestamp)
# enable plotting in the current notebook with the inline backend
%matplotlib inline

import matplotlib as mpl
import matplotlib.pyplot as plt

pd.set_option('display.mpl_style', 'default')  # give plots a more pleasing visual style

mpl.rcParams['figure.figsize'] = (15, 10) # Set default figure size
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 1)
ax.set_ylabel('Round Trip Ping (ms)')
df_timeouts.plot(x='timestamp', y='ping', ax=ax, legend=False, color='Pink')
df_clean.plot(x='timestamp', y='ping', ax=ax, legend=False, color='DarkGreen')
<matplotlib.axes._subplots.AxesSubplot at 0x111cb2588>

Wow! That's a lot of pink! Were the timeouts that evenly dispersed? And I know there were quite a number of them, but that many? Approximately 12% of packets were dropped (ie. timed out). Lets thin out the data a bit to see the distribution of timeouts.

Also to note, there seems to be some periodicity to the spikes in ping durations.

Plausible causes:

  • increased loads on the network (ie. everyone comes home and surfs)
  • error in my aurduino sketch
  • Giant Rat chewing on telecom cable
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 1)
ax.set_ylabel('Round Trip Ping (ms)')
df_timeouts[::100].plot(x='timestamp', y='ping', ax=ax, legend=False, color='Pink')
df_clean[::100].plot(x='timestamp', y='ping', ax=ax, legend=False, color='DarkGreen')
number_of_timeouts = timeout_indices.sum()

timeout_percentage = number_of_timeouts / len(df_raw)

print('{0} out of {1} requests timed out. '
      '{2:.2%} of all requests timed out.'.format(number_of_timeouts,
99525 out of 809771 requests timed out. 12.29% of all requests timed out.
pings =[~timeout_indices]
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 1)
ax.set_xlabel('Ping (ms)')
ax.set_ylabel('Number of requests for given ping duration')
pings.hist(bins=1000, ax=ax)
<matplotlib.axes._subplots.AxesSubplot at 0x12ba0aef0>
print('{:.2%} of pings were over 100 ms.'.format(len(pings[pings > 100]) / len(pings)))
1.27% of pings were over 100 ms.
print('The average ping was {:.0f} ms.'.format(pings.mean()))
The average ping was 35 ms.
ok_pings = pings[pings <= 100]
print('From the set of pings that were less than 100 ms, '
      'the average ping was {:.0f} ms.'.format(ok_pings.mean()))
From the set of pings that were less than 100 ms, the average ping was 32 ms.
fig, ax = plt.subplots(1, 1)
ax.set_xlabel('Ping (ms)')
ax.set_ylabel('Number of requests for given ping duration')
ok_pings.hist(bins=100, ax=ax)
<matplotlib.axes._subplots.AxesSubplot at 0x117cd96a0>

Interestingly, there seem to be ping durations that are not represented by any successful requests. For example, there were no successful pings with a duration of 20 milliseconds. That just seems wrong. Not sure how much I can trust this data. I will rerun the experiment and report back.

To be continued...