Internet bandwidth is generally used to describe the data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection.

How does it work

  • As an analogy, bandwidth can be compared to plumbing as the used data is similar to the water running through a pipe.
  • The difference in bandwidth has an impact of the speed with which data is transferred as the flow is faster, thus more data can be sent at the same time. It is a matter of efficiency, and it gives the impression of being perceptually faster, when it isn’t technically faster.

How much bandwidth does one need

  • The answer actually depends on what the Internet connection is used for. A bandwidth increase is directly proportional to the flow of data, thus it increases the amount of data in a given amount of time.
  • As the bandwidth is fixed depending on the agreement one has with their Internet provider, the adding of several requests to the network will each take part of the full capacity, thus the process may be slowed or even interrupted.

What affects Internet speed

  • The Internet connection type: a bandwidth can be fixed, or capped, therefore they cannot be increased, such as Dialup or even DSL.
  • Traffic congestion: the more data is requested or shared at one given time, the more bandwidth is being used in the same time, and the slower the process gets. It can happen at peak hours of the day, or if several members share a home network and are logged in at the same time.
  • Outdated Equipment or malfunctions: “plumbing” is necessary, since equipment becomes outdated, or may not be configured optimally, thus reducing the efficiency of the Internet connection.
  • Distance: the further the network computer is from the ISP hub, the longer it takes for the data to transfer from the Internet to the computer, slowing down the process.

Limitations to Internet bandwidth

  • Bandwidth control is a system used to limit the amount of bandwidth that a running program is allowed to use, with the purpose of organizing activities which do not necessarily need a constant running speed. These limitations are often set by download managers, online backup services, some cloud storage services and even routers as they all use massive amounts of bandwidth.
  • Bandwidth throttling is another way of controlling how much bandwidth one uses by setting a limit to a certain type of traffic (like movie streaming or life sharing) or limiting traffic during a particular time of the day in order to reduce long queues.