(1) In general, the period of time that one component in a system is spinning its wheels waiting for another component. Latency, therefore, is wasted time. For example, in accessing data on a disk, latency is defined as the time it takes to position the proper sector under the read/write head.
(2) In networking, the amount of time it takes a packet to travel from source to destination. Together, latency and bandwidth define the speed and capacity of a network.
(3) In VoIP terminology, latency refers to a delay in packet delivery. VoIP latency is a service issue that is usually based on physical distance, hops, or voice to data conversion.