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What Is Bandwidth

Although it can refer to other things, bandwidth most commonly refers to Internet speeds. An Internet connection with a higher bandwidth will allow you to have a smoother browsing experience with webpages taking less time to load and files downloading in less time. The more bandwidth you have, the better. You may also hear the terms "monthly bandwidth limits" or "monthly download limits." This is when Internet service providers impose a cap on the amount of data you can download and upload with your Internet connection every month.

Internet bandwidth measurements can be especially confusing to less experienced users. This is because bandwidth is measured in bits rather than bytes. There are eight bits in a byte. For example, if an Internet service provider is advertising a package which provides a maximum potential bandwidth of 2 megabits per second, it is actually equivalent to 256 kilobytes per second. Initially, you may be thinking that you can download an average 4 megabyte MP3 audio file in two seconds, but that is a classic example of how people often get confused between bits and bytes. The only reason why Internet bandwidth is always referred to in megabits per second rather than megabytes or kilobytes per second is that it often initially fools people into thinking that they have a faster connection than they really do.

To give you some idea of Internet bandwidth speeds, a dial-up connection has a 56Kbps maximum speed, or up to 7 kilobytes per second download speed. Today's broadband speeds are normally at least twenty times faster, with many being as much as a hundred times faster than the old dial-up connections. There are two statistics provided when it comes to advertising bandwidth speed. These are download and upload speeds. Download speeds are typically around eight times higher than upload speeds. Downloading refers to data that you receive from the Internet, such as webpages you're browsing or files you are downloading. Upload bandwidth refers to the speed of the data that you can send out, such as when you're making an Internet phone or video call or uploading a file to store on the Internet.


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