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Tech Term: Bandwidth

Tech Term: Bandwidth

Here’s a question we want you to take a second to consider...How much do you rely on the Internet? The answer for almost everyone is that it is essential to your current quality of life. Technologies have been developed, industries have been launched, and literally billions of people use it every day, making it one of the predominant inventions in human history. At the heart of this phenomenal technology is bandwidth.

The term bandwidth, in the context of the Internet, is the volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium can handle. Simply put, the larger the bandwidth your connection has the faster the data can move through the medium. Bandwidth is measured in the amount of data transferred per second, specifically megabits per second (mostly written Mbps or Mb/s). Megabytes, written MB is not typically used in measuring bandwidth as a connection that is advertised as 15 MB is actually 1.875 Mbps since there are eight bits in every byte.

Most Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, will sell packages of a certain megabits, but if you really want to ascertain the bandwidth your computer is running on, your best bet is to use one of the numerous Internet speed test sites like the one at speedtest.net.

The best analogy, and the one that we’ll use, is that of plumbing. It’s said that data is to available bandwidth as water is to the size of a pipe. As bandwidth increases more data can be transferred through it, just as a larger pipe passes more water. Increasing bandwidth, or finding a larger pipe, will allow for even more data/water transfer. For the average user that only uses a couple of apps, a web browser, and doesn’t stream media, a small bandwidth connection will work fine. For tech-savvy families or very small businesses that have multiple devices connected to the Internet at once, they will find they will need more bandwidth to do the things they want to do seamlessly. Larger businesses will need enterprise-level bandwidth of multiple hundred Mbps.

Your Internet connection isn’t the only place where bandwidth comes into play. If you have a website, you will have to pay for a bandwidth level that is commensurate with the traffic and data interaction. In many cases, the more bandwidth you need, the more you will need to pay for hosting.

For more information about technology terms that confuse you, visit our blog, or contact our technology professionals at (707) 268-8850.

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