Speed vs. Bandwidth
Unfortunately, a vast majority of people are under the false impression that the Internet has varying degrees of speed; ranging from unbearably slow to ultra fast, “high-speed” internet connections. Marketing campaigns constantly promote “high-speed internet,” misinforming the average Internet user into believing there is a difference in Internet speed. The real differences in perceived internet speed are caused by bandwidth, not some elusive slow or fast lanes on the internet superhighway. Using bandwidth interchangeably when referring to speed is completely incorrect and here’s why:
The Internet is the same speed regardless of the terms companies use to describe them. What fluctuates is the amount of data being downloaded and uploaded within the different sized bandwidth available. The smallest bandwidth available is DSL Internet, followed by a medium sized Cable Internet and the largest capacity bandwidth being Fiber Optic Internet. All these different types of bandwidth measure the data being transferred using bits per second (bps).
For example, imagine you have multiple cars on a freeway en route to a direct location. The freeway is the bandwidth, which has a set number of traffic lanes (5 lane freeway) and the cars represent the data travelling from the Internet to your computer. Downloading a 5Mb image with only a 1Mbps bandwidth connection is like having 5 cars trying to simultaneously arrive at the same destination on a one-lane highway, it’s going to take some time. However, if you have a 5Mbps bandwidth capacity, and you are downloading a smaller amount of information, 1Mb, then you will receive your information without any hold up. It is not technically faster, yet that is the perception.
Bandwidth = Capacity
Smaller bandwidth means that you have a smaller data pipe to transfer online information. Larger bandwidth capacity means that there is less likely to be the same traffic jams that you would find when operating with a smaller sized bandwidth. The information you are trying to download or upload is the amount of water you are attempting to send down the large or small pipe. For example, if you have 10 gallons of water and you try to pour it through a straw vs. pouring it through a wide pipe, then it seems like the larger pipe is faster, however the amount of water is the same (10 gallons). It is the size of the pipe that makes the difference when sending and receiving information through the Internet.
Other things that can affect the flow of information being passed:
Amount of data:
The larger the file, the smaller the bandwidth, the slower the overall progress you will experience. Downloading a large item, such as a movie compared to a small pdf file can make a significant difference in download time.
More Internet users means an increase in demand for Internet availability. How many times have you been inside a busy coffee shop and have tried to access your Internet along with many others just to be tapping your foot and fingers at the incredibly slow progress you’re making? The bandwidth size remains the same unless you purchase an increased bandwidth capacity to compensate for the amount of pressure coming from your users and/or Internet frequency.
More Internet connected devices (smartphones, smart watches, laptops, desktops, tablets and iPad’s) the easier it is to log onto the Internet to retrieve some information like Google-ing the answer to something while using a GPS and downloading a large file of images.
To put it simply, the more data, users and devices that are all connected to the Internet at one time strains the bandwidth (“pipe” or “highway”) where capacity may be limited and the Internet may appear to be ‘slow’, resulting in a lot less capacity for everyone.
If you struggle with a limited amount of bandwidth and wish to upgrade, Huntleigh Technology can get you connected with complete Internet services that can dramatically improve the quality of your connection. Click here for more information and comment below on what you think of Broadband and “high-speed” Internet.
The featured image by: Freepik