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The Difference between Bandwidth & Internet Speed

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What’s the difference between Bandwidth & Internet Speed?

Too put it in its simplest terms Internet speed is the number providers give you (e.g. 30 Mbps) and has no impact on how fast your internet performs. The real internet performance has to do with a thing named latency. Internet connections including satellite Internet connections, are advertised with a typical speed like “up to 40 Mbps.” And you are led to believe that an Internet connection offering this speed is an example of the positive experience of using it compared to a connection speed of 10mbps, but this isn’t quite right.

To break it down into simpler terms

  • Bandwidth is what dictates how fast data/information can be transferred over time. Normally in terms of the amount of data that can be transferred per second.
  • Latency is a delay in the transfer. Latency is how long it takes for information to transfer between the information’s source and the destination this is usually measured in milliseconds.

How Bandwidth and Internet Speed works?

The best way to explain Bandwidth is to compare it to a motorway. The cars are your data and the road is your bandwidth, all the data is transferring down the bandwidth as the same speed the best way to speed up the transfer speed is to make the bandwidth more available this is basically like adding more lanes to the motorway allowing more cars to travel. To put this into an example if you had a file which was the size of 50Mbs it would take 50 seconds to travel down a 1 lane motorway (1Mbps) however should you increase the ‘motorway’ lanes of the bandwidth to 5 lanes (5Mbps) it will now take the same file only 10 seconds to travel from source to destination.

The main thing to take away from this analogy is that your internet isn’t going to go any faster from 1Mbps to 5Mbps the difference is that your file will transfer faster because more of the data can be sent simultaneously.

Is bandwidth better if it’s broadband?

Technically yes but don’t be thrown by the constantly misused terms. Broadband is a term that has taken the place of the phrase ‘high speed internet’ but this is an incorrect term as Broadband is as different to high-speed internet as bandwidth is to internet speed. In the 1990s roughly when internet technology began to improve information started being able to transfer over a wider variety of frequencies which is what gave birth to the term ‘Broadband’ because it essentially means there is a wider (Broad) range of frequencies (Bands) that can be accessed for data transfer. While Broadband is now used to refer to most any internet connections other than dial-up, but this isn’t right as the UK government alongside with OFCOM confirmed that an internet service must deliver at least 30 Mbps download speed to qualify as broadband.

Too summarise Bandwidth and Internet Speed

Internet speed is how fast data can be uploaded or downloaded on your device whereas Internet bandwidth is how much data can be download or uploaded on your device.

If you are having issues with your bandwidth or internet speed, then get in touch with PA Comms on 01772 760700 and our friendly experts will be happy to help you with your questions or queries.

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