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Bandwidth vs. Speed: What’s the Difference?

Modern technology can drive you crazy. First of all, it’s constantly changing. And secondly, it brings with it new jargon and terminology that can be difficult or confusing to understand.

Today, we’re going to take a couple of words that have been around for quite a while, but they still often get mixed up in people’s minds. So, let’s take a few moments to sort them out because they’re important to understanding how broadband internet works.

The difference between bandwidth and speed

Many people today use the words bandwidth and speed  interchangeably. While they are related, understanding the difference can help you understand a lot about how your home network works.

Bandwidth determines how much data can be downloaded or uploaded. For example, if you choose a plan with 100Mbps, it means you can move 100 megabits of data per second. The higher the Mbps the more data you can move per second.

Speed determines how fast the data moves. For example, if you choose a plan with 100Mbps, it means you can move 100 megabits of data per second. Again, the higher the Mbps the more data you can move per second.

Not confusing at all, right? Of course, it is—because both bandwidth and speed are defined in the same simple description, “100 megabits – per second!” That’s why people end up using the words interchangeably.

 

Let’s sort it out

Fiber bandwidth is not shared among neighbors, but it is shared within your home. Let’s use the 100Mbps plan as an example and assume your home is simultaneously using ten different internet-connected devices (currently, the average household has 25 internet-connected devices). And let’s also assume each device requires a minimum of 10Mbps to operate properly.

Guess what? You’ve just maxed out your internet plan. Connecting even one more device means your internet experience will be hindered on all your devices. You may experience lag and buffering, or the device may disconnect from the internet.

In this case, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your internet speed. Your plan promises 100Mbps delivered to your home, and that’s what you receive.

However…

It feels like the internet is slowing down because your network is overburdened. There isn’t enough bandwidth to cover all of your devices at the same time. You need more bandwidth because your home doesn’t receive enough data per second to operate all the devices you’re currently using.

When you consider the number of your internet-connected household devices—and how and when they’re used—you can make the smart choice about which internet technology, bandwidth, and speed are right for you.

At Horizon, we’re happy to help you determine which speed is right for you. Contact the friendly, hometown staff at contact us with your questions. We’d love to hear from you.

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