Understanding Internet Speeds

It is important to know what speed of Internet you want and need before calling a provider for a quote. If you do not have any idea what you need prior to calling, then the technology lingo will confuse you fast and you will not end up with enough time to actually understand what you are getting when it comes down to the specifications of your Internet speed. The first thing to understand is the unit of measure the technology industry uses. All Internet service providers, like www.optimum.com, use this system when referring to Internet speeds. The rate of data speed in the connection is measured in units of bps or bits per second.

The smallest increment of Internet speed unit is going to be your kilobit, or 1,000 bps (bits per second), derived from the prefix of kilo, referring to thousands in the metric system. This can be represented in a number of different ways when it comes to abbreviation. You may see it referred to as kbps, KB/s, or Kb/sec. Regardless of the abbreviation variant used, 1 kilobit is equal to 1,000 bits per second.

The next increment level of the Internet speed unit is going to be your megabit or 1,000 Kbps (kilobits per second); remember that one kilobit is also equal to 1,000 bits per second, thus one megabit is also equal to 1,000,000 bits per second. Megabits can also be referred to in a number of ways by an abbreviation such as Mbps, Mb/s, or Mb/sec. This breaks down to 1 megabit is equal to 1,000 kilobits per second or 1,000,000 bits per second.

The top tier increment level of the Internet speed unit system you will likely see (it does go higher, but no provider has met those speeds as of today) is going to be your gigabit, or 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second); do you see where this is going? Gigabits can be referred to in a number of different ways also, Gbps, Gb/s, or Gb/sec. So the gigabit is 1,000 megabits, and then 1,000 megabits is 1,000 kilobits, and 1,000 kilobits is equal to 1,000 bits per second. So technically a gigabit is equal to 1,000,000 kilobits, and 1,000,000 kilobits is equal to 1,000,000,000 bits per second.

When you write it out on paper visually, the way this system works might make better sense:

Bits per second (Bps) = 1 Bps

Kilobits per second (Kbps) = 1,000 Bps

Megabits per second (Mbps) = 1,000 Kbps = 1,000,000 Bps

Gigabits per second (Mbps) = 1,000 Mbps = 1,000,000 Kbps = 1,000,000,000 Bps

Alright, so now it makes sense numerically, but what does it mean and how much of it do I need? Surprisingly, Internet speed is not a one size fits all type of thing. How many bits per second you need for your home or business is going to depend on what exactly you are doing with it and how often you will be doing it. Normal daily activities that include browsing the web, scrolling through social media, and checking emails will need about 5 Mbps at the very minimum, and this is if only one person is doing it in the household at a time. For those who like to stream music, movies off Netflix and any other HD video streaming, you will need at the very minimum 25 Mbps for it to stay stable, and again that is if only one person in the household is streaming at a time. For households with multiple members that will be on the network at the same time, regardless of what they are doing, like browsing or streaming, you will need 35 Mbps minimum for everyone to get along nicely.

For larger applications, such as streaming 4k video quality type media, you will need over 50 Mbps for no interruptions. Same for competitive gaming activities, as computer games of this magnitude require at least 50 Mbps for smooth gameplay. If your goal is to be able to do all of the activities listed above at the same time, you are looking at 100 Mbps+. The average household usually has speeds anywhere between 25 Mbps and 200 Mbps. There are internet service providers that do offer a gigabit of speed, but in reality, any household would not need 1,000 Mbps. The gigabit speeds usually are more for business needs as they have a greater volume of Internet use within the facility.

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