Tech Term: Bandwidth Defined

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The Internet has become an irreplaceable part of many business’ operations, which brings the thought into question of how much you rely on it for your daily duties. Technology has changed the way that the Internet works for the better, but there is one part of its operations that still lies at the heart of it: bandwidth.

In the context of the Internet, bandwidth is used to measure the volume of information per unit of time that a transmission medium can handle. Basically, the more bandwidth your connection has, the faster data can be transferred. Bandwidth is typically measured in seconds. You might remember seeing the specifics about your Internet connection in the form of megabits per second (like Mbps or Mb/s). Megabytes, usually abbreviated to MB, is not used for measuring bandwidth. For example, a connection that is advertised as 15 MB is, in reality, 1.875 Mbps due to there being eight bits in every byte.

Most Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, will market their packages at a certain megabit value, but this isn’t the best way to see just how much bandwidth your connection gets. To do this, you can use a speed tester such as the one at speedtest.net.

Perhaps the best analogy to describe bandwidth is plumbing. Imagine that data is water flowing through a pipe. As the amount of water increases, there isn’t as much room for water to flow through the pipe. If you find a larger pipe, more water can pass through at once. For more users that only take advantage of a couple of applications and a web browser, a small bandwidth connection might be enough, but streaming media can complicate these matters. Tech-savvy families and small businesses might find that smaller bandwidth connections are inadequate, as there isn’t enough room for the amount of data being used to be sent through the “pipe.” Larger businesses need a lot data, so it’s recommended that they acquire enterprise-level bandwidth to make up for the considerable increase in data being used.

Bandwidth is also used for various other functions for your business, including your website. You will generally have to pay for the amount of traffic that your website receives, but this isn’t always the case.

Did you learn anything during this week’s tech term? Let us know in the comments.

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