Understanding Internet Bandwidth and Speed

May 11, 2021

In the fast-paced world of technology, it’s easy for the average person to get lost pretty quickly. Techies like to throw around a lot of terminology when it comes to products, making it sometimes hard to keep everything straight.

Take high-speed internet service plans. A lot of people think bandwidth and speed are the same thing, but they are not.

Bandwidth is the amount of data your internet service can deliver in a period of time, usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps). A high bandwidth means the more data the system is capable of delivering. Throughput is a related term, describing how much of the total bandwidth reaches its destination in a given period of time. High bandwidth and high throughput (such as offered by gigabit internet) are what you’re after.

Speed, on the other hand, is how fast that payload moves back and forth. High-speed internet packages, as the name suggests, move data faster than older technology. Speed also has a related term, latency, which is the time it takes for something to upload or download.

To show how these concepts work together, let’s say you have a five-gallon bucket of water. The maximum amount of water the bucket can hold is your bandwidth. Depending on how much water you need at any given time, you might not fill that bucket to capacity (like when one person at a time is online versus the whole family), but it could still handle it if you did.

The speed with which that water (representing data) gets to its destination, on the other hand, can vary a lot. Think of how fast the water moves by just dumping the bucket – instantaneous, right? Now imagine running that water through a funnel that narrows to a five-inch pipe, a three-inch pipe or a one-inch pipe. That’s how latency works; the bigger the “pipe” the faster things move.

Achieving high speed and low latency relies a lot on the type of physical connection you have. When it comes to high-speed internet, collectively called “broadband”, options such as cable, DSL and fiber are different-sized “pipes”. All of them achieve much higher throughput and lower latency than the old dial-up systems and have improved on each other over time. The most recent – gigabit fiber – offers the best of both worlds with the highest bandwidth and highest speeds.

Kinetic is steadily deploying across its 18-state footprint gigabit fiber, which represents the latest advancement in delivering fast and smooth streaming movies, digital entertainment services as well as regular old email and web browsing safely.


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