‘Bandwidth’ describes the rate at which data can be transferred to your computer from a website or internet service within a specific time. Therefore, the amount of bandwidth you have determines the efficiency and speed of your internet activity that is, when you open web pages, download files and so on.

A useful analogy is a pipe with water running through it, the wider the pipe, the greater the volume of water that can flow through it. The same applies to bandwidth strength and the flow of the volume of data.

Bandwidth is generally measured in ‘bits per second’ or sometimes ‘bytes per second’.

While bandwidth is used to describe network speeds, it does not measure how fast bits of data move from one location to another. Since data packets travel over electronic or fiber optic cables, the speed of each bit transferred is negligible. Instead, bandwidth measures how much data can flow through a specific connection at one time.

An internet connection with a larger bandwidth can move a set amount of data (say, a video file) much faster than an internet connection with a lower bandwidth.

For example, when you connect to the Internet using a modem over a phone line, your operating system may display “Connected at 56 kbps.” meaning a maximum of 56 kilobits of data is transferred every second.

The more bandwidth a computer has, the faster it will be able to send and receive information. Users with a broadband connection, more specifically fiber optic broadband, can get transfers speeds of up to 10 Gbps, which is nearly 180,000 times faster than a 56kbps modem!

Upload and download

Most broadband connections are asynchronous, which means there are different speeds depending on the way data is traveling. A download speed or receiving speed is how fast your computer can get files from the Internet.

The upload speed or sending speed is how fast your computer can send files to the Internet. Download speeds are nearly always faster than upload speeds with these connections.

Note: If bandwidth is shared with other computer, neighbors, devices, etc. you will not reach the maximum capacity reported by your ISP.


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