Search form


What is Data, Broadband Speeds, and Bandwidth?

What is Data, Broadband Speeds, and Bandwidth?

Data in a digital sense is made up of bits (a bit is a 0 or 1); 8 bits of data (00101110) is a byte. For broadband data, transmission speeds and bandwidth, you will encounter references to bits and bytes (and kilobits, kilobytes, megabits, megabytes, gigabits and gigabytes and so on (refer to Table 1. Data Measurement).


Data Measurement Name Equivalence
Bit 1 bit   = single 1 or 0 (on or off)
Byte 1 byte = 8 bits
Kilobyte (KB) 1 KB  = 1,024 bytes or  = 8,192 bits
Megabyte (MB 1 MB  = 1,024 kilobytes or  = 1,048,576 bytes
Gigabyte (GB) 1 GB  = 1,024 megabytes or  = 1,048,576 kilobytes

Broadband speed is how fast data transfers over a connection; speed is measured in bits per second. Data (files stored on your computer or information transmitted over a network) is measured in bytes (megabytes, kilobytes, and so on). The speed at which data moves over a network connection is determined by bandwidth; that is, the size of the “pipe” or broadband technology that the data is traveling on.

For example, data transfers from your computer in packets or bytes of information; a typical packet contains 1,000-1,500 bytes. Every web page you visit receives a series of packets and every email you send leaves your computer as a series of packets; each packet gets to its destination by the best available route. How fast the data gets to its destination depends on the file size (or how much data is being sent) and the bandwidth of the technology the data is traveling on.

Source: Information from Wisconsin’s Broadband Reference Guide produced by: WI Public Service Commission, UW-Extension Madison, and the Center for Community Technology Solutions, January 2014

Printed from the website on September 27, 2020 at 9:11am.