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Definition: hop count

The number of point-to-point links in a transmission path. Since each link is terminated at a network device such as a router or gateway, the processing performed within the device to determine how to forward the packet adds overhead to the transmission. Although each point-to-point link is technically a hop, the hop count is the number of network devices between the starting node and the destination node. An IP packet traveling over the Internet can easily "hop" through more than a dozen routers.

Hops in a Network
Electrical signals may travel near the speed of light in a wire, but each junction point (router, gateway, etc.) adds processing overhead.