Tech Term: Bandwidth

How much do you rely on the internet? The answer for almost everyone is that it’s essential to your current quality of life. Technologies have been developed, industries have been launched and 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.

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.

As bandwidth increases, more data can be transferred through it. Increasing bandwidth will allow for even more data 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 small businesses that have multiple devices connected to the internet at once, they’ll find they need more bandwidth to do the things they want to do seamlessly. Larger businesses will need enterprise-level bandwidth of multiple hundreds of Mbps.

Your internet connection isn’t the only place where bandwidth comes into play. If you have a website, you’ll 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’ll need to pay for hosting.

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