Bandwidth Vs Internet Speed…what’s the difference?

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Internet Speeds and Bandwidth

It’s easy to get confused when we think about Internet Speeds and Bandwidth. Internet speed, the number they give you (5 Mbps, for example), has nothing to do with how fast your internet works. In fact, real “internet speed” has to do with something called latency.

Internet connections, including satellite Internet connections, are advertised with speeds like “up to 15 Mbps.” You may look at a satellite Internet connection offering this speed and assume the experience of using it would be comparable to the experience of using a 15 Mbps cable Internet connection, but you would be wrong.

  • Bandwidth: Bandwidth determines how fast data can be transferred over time. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred per second.
  • Latency: Latency is delay. Latency is how long it takes data to travel between its source and destination, measured in milliseconds.

You can read more about Latency here!  OK back to Bandwidth.

Understanding Bandwidth and Internet Speeds

Think about Bandwidth in terms of a motorway. All cars (data) are driving down one lane of the motorway at the same speed. To get more cars down that motorway you need to make the motorway wider. For example, if Mbps is the equivalent of a 1 lane of the motorway. And let’s say you are trying to download an image that’s 5 Mb in size. It’s going to take you 5 seconds to download. Now imagine you have a 5Mbps (bandwidth) connection or 5 lanes on the motorway… how long will it take then? Well, it would be 1 second.

What’s important to note here, and this confuses a lot of people, is that your internet isn’t any faster from 1 Mbps to 5 Mbps, or however much bandwidth your connection has. Your data is just transferred to you at a faster rate because more data can be sent at the same time. Does that clear the whole Bandwidth vs Speed issue?

In a Nutshell

The difference between internet speed and bandwidth can be summed in one line. Internet bandwidth is how much data can be downloaded or uploaded from your computer, while internet speed is how fast can the data be uploaded or downloaded on your computer.

We hope the above information is useful, you can also read more about Internet Connectivity here or Internet services for your business here where you will find answers to lots of frequently asked questions.

If you would like any more help or advice on how much Bandwidth is enough for your business, please give us a call on 0345 389 2310 contact us using the contact form here or send an email to

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