End-to-end delay or one-way delay (OWD) refers to the time taken for a packet to be transmitted across a network from source to destination. It is a common term in IP network monitoring, and differs from round-trip time (RTT) in that only path in the one direction from source to destination is measured.
The ping utility measures the RTT, that is, the time to go and come back to a host. Half the RTT is often used as an approximation of OWD but this assumes that the forward and back paths are the same in terms of congestion, number of hops, or quality of service (QoS). This is not always a good assumption. To avoid such problems, the OWD may be measured directly.
OWDs may be measured between two points A and B of an IP network through the use of synchronized clocks; A records a timestamp on the packet and sends it to B, which notes the receiving time and calculates the OWD as their difference. The transmitted packets need to be identified at source and destination in order to avoid packet loss or packet reordering. However, this method suffers several limitations, such as requiring intensive cooperation between both parties, and the accuracy of the measured delay is subject to the synchronization precision.
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