Ip packet Performance Measurements (Delay, Delay Variation, Packet Loss)

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Supplemental Measurements Library IP Packet Performance Measurements

IP Packet Performance Measurements (Delay, Delay Variation, Packet Loss)

1.1 General Description and Title

IP Packet Transfer Delay, Delay Variation and Packet Loss are IP Packet Performance Measurements defined in ITU-T Recommendations Y.1540 and Y.1541. These performance measurements are good indicators of network performance for a given geographic footprint.

This set of performance measurements (IP Packet Transfer Delay, IP Delay Variation and IP Packet Loss Ratio) provide a basis for determining whether a Service Provider has implemented an efficient network design with sufficient levels of network resources for its IP network.
The sampling of these measurements is on a frequent basis (example: 5 minute interval, 30 minute interval, hourly interval) with well-defined levels of network-wide packet measurements.

1.2 Purpose

IP Packet Performance measurements are intended to demonstrate efficiencies in network design and sufficient levels of resource allocation such that real-time services and other services are maintained with acceptable Quality of Service. The information obtained from this measurement should be used for tracking overall network level performance particularly from the perspective of sustaining desired Quality of Service for all services.

1.3 Applicable Product Categories

This measurement applies to Switching (Access, Multi-Service and Routers) and Transport (Optical Switches and Transport Links) categories.

1.4 Detailed Description (Refer to ITU-T Recommendation Y.1540)

The reader should refer to the latest version of ITU-T Recommendations Y.1540 and Y.1541. These source documents should take precedence over the text in this document.

  1. Terminology

  1. IP packet transfer delay (IPTD): IP packet transfer delay is defined for all successful and errored packet outcomes across a basic section or an NSE. IPTD is the time, (t2 – t1) between the occurrence of two corresponding IP packet reference events, ingress event IPRE1 at time t1 and egress event IPRE2 at time t2, where (t2 > t1) and (t2 – t1) ≤ Tmax. If the packet is fragmented within the NSE, t2 is the time of the final corresponding egress event. The end-to-end IP packet transfer delay is the one-way delay between the MP at the SRC and DST as illustrated in Figure 8.

Figure 8/Y.1540 – IP packet transfer delay events
(illustrated for the end-to-end transfer of a single IP packet)



Destination Host


Exchange Link


Measurement Point


Network Section


Source Host

  1. End-to-end 2-point IP Packet Delay Variation: The variations in IP packet transfer delay are also important. Streaming applications might use information about the total range of IP delay variation to avoid buffer underflow and overflow. Variations in IP delay will cause TCP retransmission timer thresholds to grow and may also cause packet retransmissions to be delayed or cause packets to be retransmitted unnecessarily.

End-to-end 2-point IP packet delay variation is defined based on the observations of corresponding IP packet arrivals at ingress and egress MP (e.g., MPDST, MPSRC). These observations characterize the variability in the pattern of IP packet arrival reference events at the egress MP with reference to the pattern of corresponding reference events at the ingress MP.

The 2-point packet delay variation (vk) for an IP packet k between SRC and DST is the difference between the absolute IP packet transfer delay (xk) of the packet and a defined reference IP packet transfer delay, d1,2, between those same MPs (see Figure 9): vk = xk – d1,2.

Figure 9/Y.1540 – 2-point IP packet delay variation

The reference IP packet transfer delay, d1,2, between SRC and DST is the absolute IP packet transfer delay experienced by the first IP packet between those two MPs.

Positive values of 2-point IPDV correspond to IP packet transfer delays greater than those experienced by the reference IP packet; negative values of 2-point IPDV correspond to IP packet transfer delays less than those experienced by the reference IP packet. The distribution of 2-point IPDVs is identical to the distribution of absolute IP packet transfer delays displaced by a constant value equal to d1,2.

  1. Packet loss ratio (IPLR): IP packet loss ratio is the ratio of total lost IP packet outcomes to total transmitted IP packets in a population of interest.

  1. Counting Rules

Defect Classifications:

The term “Defect” is relative for this Performance Measure. It is understood that “excessive” delays, delay variations, or packet loss ratios, are indicators of degraded network performance. However, currently there are no agreed upon or standardized performance bounds pointing to unacceptable network performance.

ITU-T Recommendation Y.1541 provides guidance for Transfer Delay performance objectives for

a wide range of services and applications.

Network performance parameter

Nature of network performance objective

QoS Classes

Class 0

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3

Class 4

Class 5


Upper bound on the mean IPTD (Note 1)

100 ms

400 ms

100 ms

400 ms

1 s



Upper bound on the 1  10–3 quantile of IPTD minus the minimum IPTD (Note 2)

50 ms (Note 3)

50 ms (Note 3)






Upper bound on the packet loss probability

1 × 10–3 (Note 4)

1 × 10–3 (Note 4)

1 × 10–3

1 × 10–3

1 × 10–3



Upper bound

1 × 10–4 (Note 5)


General Notes:

The objectives apply to public IP Networks. The objectives are believed to be achievable on common IP network implementations. The network providers' commitment to the user is to attempt to deliver packets in a way that achieves each of the applicable objectives. The vast majority of IP paths advertising conformance with ITU-T Rec. Y.1541 should meet those objectives. For some parameters, performance on shorter and/or less complex paths may be significantly better.

An evaluation interval of 1 minute is suggested for IPTD, IPDV, and IPLR and, in all cases, the interval must be recorded with the observed value. Any minute observed should meet these objectives.

Individual network providers may choose to offer performance commitments better than these objectives.

"U" means "unspecified" or "unbounded". When the performance relative to a particular parameter is identified as being "U" the ITU T establishes no objective for this parameter and any default Y.1541 objective can be ignored. When the objective for a parameter is set to "U", performance with respect to that parameter may, at times, be arbitrarily poor.

NOTE 1 – Very long propagation times will prevent low end-to-end delay objectives from being met. In these and some other circumstances, the IPTD objectives in Classes 0 and 2 will not always be achievable. Every network provider will encounter these circumstances and the range of IPTD objectives in Table 1 provides achievable QoS classes as alternatives. The delay objectives of a class do not preclude a network provider from offering services with shorter delay commitments. According to the definition of IPTD in ITU-T Rec. Y.1540, packet insertion time is included in the IPTD objective. This Recommendation suggests a maximum packet information field of 1500 bytes for evaluating these objectives.

NOTE 2 – The definition of the IPDV objective (specified in ITU-T Rec. Y.1540) is the 2-point IP Packet Delay Variation. See ITU-T Rec. Y.1540 and Appendix II for more details on the nature of this objective. For planning purposes, the bound on the mean IPTD may be taken as an upper bound on the minimum IPTD and, therefore, the bound on the 1 – 10–3 quantile may be obtained by adding the mean IPTD and the IPDV value (e.g., 150 ms in Class 0).

NOTE 3 –This value is dependent on the capacity of inter-network links. Smaller variations are possible when all capacities are higher than primary rate (T1 or E1), or when competing packet information fields are smaller than 1500 bytes (see Appendix IV).

NOTE 4 – The Class 0 and 1 objectives for IPLR are partly based on studies showing that high quality voice applications and voice codecs will be essentially unaffected by a 103 IPLR.

NOTE 5 – This value ensures that packet loss is the dominant source of defects presented to upper layers, and is feasible with IP transport on ATM.

Table 1/Y.1541 – IP network QoS class definitions and
network performance objectives

QoS class

Applications (examples)

Node mechanisms

Network techniques


Real-time, jitter sensitive, high interaction (VoIP, VTC)

Separate queue with preferential servicing, traffic grooming

Constrained routing and distance


Real-time, jitter sensitive, interactive (VoIP, VTC).

Less constrained routing and distances


Transaction data, highly interactive (Signalling)

Separate queue, drop priority

Constrained routing and distance


Transaction data, interactive

Less constrained routing and distances


Low loss only (short transactions, bulk data, video streaming)

Long queue, drop priority

Any route/path


Traditional applications of default IP networks

Separate queue (lowest priority)

Any route/path

NOTE – Any example application listed in Table 2 could also be used in Class 5 with unspecified performance objectives, as long as the users are willing to accept the level of performance prevalent during their session.

Table 2/Y.1541 – Guidance for IP QoS classes

A network operator can thus determine whether performance measures for the type of services offered fall within the acceptable ranges that underline the Y.1541 performance class that best fits the service in question.

  1. Exclusions


  1. Calculations and Formulas

Mean IP Packet Transfer Delay: Mean IP packet transfer delay is the arithmetic average of IP packet transfer delays for a population of interest [Y.1540]
Delay Variation as defined above
Packet Loss Ratio as defined above

1.5 Sources of Data

Organizations shall collect all data necessary to support this measurement.

Notice: This is an informational document, downloaded from a QuEST Forum website.

QuEST Forum is not responsible for revisions after download.
Version 1.0 October 2012

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