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(also network bandwidth)

Bandwidth definition

Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data a network can transfer over a communication channel. Internet service providers (ISPs) typically measure bandwidth speeds in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps), megabits per second (Mbps), or gigabits per second (Gbps). The higher the bandwidth, the quicker you can download information.

See also: network service provider

How bandwidth works

  • Bandwidth refers to the amount of data transmitted over a communication channel at a given time. The communication channel can be a physical connection (e.g., cable or fiber optic line) or a wireless connection (e.g., Wi-Fi or cellular data).
  • When users access the internet or any network, their device sends and receives data in smaller packets. When they reach their destination, these packets are reassembled to recreate the original data.
  • The higher the bandwidth, the more data packets can be transferred simultaneously (meaning faster upload and download speeds).
  • Bandwidth can be affected by several factors, like the distance between the receiver and the sender, connection type, and network traffic.

Bandwidth vs. speed

  • Bandwidth and speed are often used interchangeably. Even though they are related terms, they mean different things.
  • Speed refers to the rate at which this data can be transmitted between two devices.
  • Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that can be sent through a communication channel.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security