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Bandwidth Vs. Speed

October 15th, 2020

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The tech world is full of buzzwords: Bandwidth, broadband, ping, latency. At UTOPIA Fiber, we strive to make sure that the complicated world of the Internet is easier for you to understand. So, we’re here to help answer some questions. Let’s start with what exactly Internet bandwidth is.

What Is Bandwidth?

The term broadband refers to high-speed data transferring in which a single cable carries a large amount of data from one location to another. The most common types of broadband Internet connections are Cable, Fiber, and DSL. Broadband has started to replace baseband (the technology that was originally used for most computer networks) and is now the new standard for Internet connections.

Generally, bandwidth is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The larger your bandwidth is, the quicker your information can transfer from your device to another device. When you sign up for a new Internet service provider, your package will typically be priced according to bandwidth. UTOPIA Fiber offer speeds ranging from 250 Mbps, 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps. Check out our residential pricing page for pricing options.

What is Internet Speed?

Your Internet speeds are measured by how many bits or bytes can be transferred in one second, hence bits per second or bytes per second. Download speed measures how quickly data is transferred from the Internet to your device. Your download speeds determine how quickly your movies, music, and files download to your computer. They also determine how quickly videos buffer and web pages load. Upload speeds measure the opposite. They tell you how quickly your data can be transferred from your device to the Internet. Upload speed determines how fast you can upload images to Facebook, how reliable your Zoom calls are, and how fast you can send messages.

Bandwidth Vs. Speed

First of all, bandwidth does not equal speed. They are related but are not the same. The difference between bandwidth and speed can be summarized in one line. Your Internet bandwidth determines how much data can be downloaded or uploaded from your device, and your Internet speed determines how fast the data can be uploaded or downloaded on your device.

Plugthingsin has an excellent example that might make things a little clearer. Think of it like this: if bandwidth is a freeway and the cars (data) all travel at approximately the same speed, to get more data (speed), you would want the freeway to be wider. So, if 1 Mbps is the equivalent to a 1 lane freeway and you were trying to download an image that is 5 Mb in size with a bandwidth of 1 Mbps (1 lane freeway), it would take you roughly 5 seconds to download the image. Now let’s say that you have a 5 Mbps (bandwidth) connection or a 5-lane freeway. How fast will you receive your image? 1 second.

Testing your Internet speed

Speed tests measure your Internet connection’s maximum speed by mimicking your Internet activity by downloading files and recording the time it takes to do so. This will let you know how quickly your device can upload and download data and verify your Internet connection’s overall performance. They aren’t 100% accurate but will give you a very close approximation of your speeds.

To run a speed test, go to your preferred speed test website (one of our favorite sites is speedtest.net) and start your test. Make sure to log out of any apps that use an excessive amount of data. When you get your results, your upload and download speeds should be near the speeds you signed up for (250 Mbps, 1 Gbps, or 10 Gbps). Typically, they won’t be exactly what you signed up for, especially if you are connecting to wireless, but they should be pretty close. Check out our blog post about how to run a speed test for more information.

For the fastest Internet speeds in the nation, sign up for UTOPIA Fiber today. And, don’t be afraid to reach out to us if you have any questions. We’d love to chat with you!