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What Does Bandwidth Mean?

Whenever the discussion turns to internet connections and their performance, it won’t be long before someone mentions bandwidth.

What does bandwidth mean? And why is it important? In simple terms, bandwidth is the quantity of data that can be transferred between two points at a given time. It’s sometimes referred to as data transfer rate and is measured in bits per second (bps). However, the latest fibre optic networks are capable of operating in megabits (Mbps) or gigabits (Gbps) per second.

It’s all about how your internet connection performs and how well it handles the volumes of data needed by your business.

Never mind the speed, feel the width

It’s easy to confuse the speed of a network connection with its transfer rate. In fact, these two things are not the same, although they are closely related. What determines bandwidth is how much of the line’s speed you are actually able to use; in other words, it’s about capacity rather than performance.

So what is internet bandwidth? Let’s say you have a 10Gbps Ethernet connection to the internet. If one task is using the connection exclusively, it has 10Gbps of bandwidth. With 10 users, their individual bandwidth would be 1Gbps each. And if you had two 10Gbps connections, there is a total of 20Gbps of bandwidth available.

Bandwidth meaning in business and how bandwidth can affect your business?

As well determining bandwidth meaning, it is also important to understand how much you really need. Increasingly, businesses rely on the internet to use cloud storage, as-a-service software, VoIP calls and more. The greater reliance on the web, the more bandwidth is required. Consider the importance of cloud storage for businesses in the future.

If too many people are using a connection, or if one task is transferring very large amounts of data, then there will be less bandwidth available for each job. Similar to the way in which the flow to the bathroom tap slows down when you run water in the kitchen sink.

How can you check bandwidth usage in your business?

First, look at the number of people who have internet access. Not all internet access is equal in terms of how it uses data.

How much time do employees spend online and what type of tasks they are performing? Tasks such as dealing with email or visiting websites use a relatively low amount of bandwidth. File downloads, VoIP use and streaming need more, and activities such as web conferencing and SaaS applications are the heaviest bandwidth users of all.

Consider the amount of data being transferred. For example, opening an average website needs about 1MB. A live video stream in HD will need about 15MB per minute, but a two-way video call will need about 90MB per minute. To determine the bandwidth required, it is essential to look at the most data-intensive applications. There are various online tools to assess the speed of a connection and the amount of data being transferred. Of course, requirements vary at different times of day, so it’s vital to test at different periods to get an idea of maximum and minimum requirements.

Bandwidth requirements are, essentially, defined by the importance of the information being transferred quickly, even if the volume is quite small. Point of sale terminals, for example, need a reliable, fast connection at all times if business isn’t to suffer. On the other hand, for everyday office tasks, a connection that can vary a little in speed depending on demand will be less troublesome.

Types of connections

Having determined the business needs now look at what type of connection will give you the best bandwidth. As noted, broadband doesn’t give the same in both directions. Businesses that are heavy internet and cloud users may need to look at full-fibre Ethernet leased lines. These provide a dedicated link to the internet so that all of the bandwidth in both directions is available for your use. Explore all the latest options for leased line contracts.

Finally, remember that bandwidth needs are dynamic; they change all the time. Try to take account of how the business might grow and how its internet usage patterns may change. This could be as a result of extra work or changes from in-house to cloud-based systems.

If you want to improve your bandwidth, or you aren’t sure how much bandwidth would be right for you, get in touch online┬átoday┬áso our team can help find the best solution for you and your business.