Megabits or Megabytes?
Most people are familiar with Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and have an Internet connection for their home, office, or business. We often hear ISPs using the term “megs” when talking about the speed of their Internet connection. But what does that mean for you, the end user? Your ISP may have said something along these lines:
“Our Internet service provides up to 12 megs of speed, compared to 8 megs from our competitors.”
This small but crucial turn of phrase is meant to entice customers into buying their service, with dreams of lightning-fast Internet with the ability to almost instantaneously download large files, or stream movies and videos without experiencing lag. However, the term “megs” refers to megabits (Mb), not megabytes (MB) where your Internet speed is concerned. Megabits are used for download/upload speeds, whereas megabytes refer to file sizes.
Each megabit is 1/8th the size of a megabyte, meaning your 12 megabit connection is actually 1.5 megabytes. This might not seem like a great difference, but consider that the average song downloaded from iTunes is between 5 and 7 megabytes. With a 12 megabit connection running at optimum speed, one song would take a little over a minute to download. If you were to download a movie from iTunes, the difference is HUGE. As bandwidth increases and Internet connection speeds become faster and faster, we can extrapolate the differences between megabytes and megabits upwards into gigabytes and gigabits. The sizes may change, but the relative differences remain the same.
According to www.ronstauffer.com:
An HD movie that is 3.6 gigabytes (3,686 megabytes) in size downloading at 12 megabytes per second (MBps) would take only 5 minutes and 7 seconds to download. For a file size that large, those download speeds are lightning fast! However, the same 3.6 gigabyte file downloading at the optimum connection speed of 12 megabits per second (Mbps) would take 40 minutes and 57 seconds! Whether you’re looking at these numbers for business or personal use, the difference between megabytes and megabits makes all the difference in your user experience.
If you’re curious how fast your Internet connection is, go to speedcenter.twtelecom.net and run a free test to check out your download and upload speeds.
Most Internet service providers use terms like “megs” to confuse the issue, relying on their customers to not know (or be confused by) the difference between megabits and megabytes. This could create huge headaches for professionals or enthusiasts that rely on a fast Internet connection to conduct business or stream movies or games. The difference is compounded by other factors, as well. When a service provider gives you a megabit number, it is based on the fastest connection possible, not necessarily a consistent speed. The number of users, how they are connected, as well as the hardware used to connect will also effect speeds, further diminishing the reliability of the stated connection speed.
So, next time you hear the term “megs” you’ll understand what it means in terms of connection speed, as well as how it applies to internet usage. You may even find yourself educating your Internet service provider on the difference between megabits and megabytes next time you inquire about your Internet connection. If you would like to know more about how to maximize internet speed for your home or business, contact Huntleigh’s team of IT professionals.