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What Even Is Bandwidth and How Much Does My House Need?

Natalie Fleeman By Natalie Fleeman on 8/26/19 1:25 PM

Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted via an internet provider over a certain period of time – the more information that is being sent through a system, the more bandwidth it requires. If an internet connection has a bigger bandwidth capacity, it can move the data much fast than a connection with lower bandwidth.

In simpler terms, think about the water hose you have in your backyard and compare it to a fire department’s water hose. A fire department’s water hose is much bigger and stronger. The water moves at a much faster speed compared to a normal water hose. This is just like bandwidth. The bigger the bandwidth, the more data that can flow at faster speeds.

When it comes to using bandwidth, you might notice a difference when just one device is using internet versus when multiple devices are using internet, on the same network, at the same time. While one device can stream a high-definition video with no lag time at all, the second someone else jumps on the network with any given device, you could start noticing a slight difference, depending on the bandwidth size. This is because each device is getting their shared portion of the full capacity.

Consider this– bandwidth is like the number of lanes on a road and the devices using internet are like the vehicles on that road. If a car was driving on a four-lane highway, completely alone, it would have plenty of space and could go as fast as it needed– it has access to the full capacity of the road. But if you start adding more vehicles on the road, it creates less space for the car to be able to move freely and is limited on how fast it can go depending on the vehicles in front of it– it now has to share the road’s capacity with other vehicles.

Click here to see a great visual analogy of bandwidth.

So, when deciding how much bandwidth your household needs, there are a lot of factors that should be taking into consideration. If all you plan to do is get on Facebook and occasionally watch videos, having a lower bandwidth plan should work just fine for you – one car can still move freely on one lane. But if you have a household full of TVs that will be streaming Netflix, multiple computers, tablets /iPads, gaming consoles and other devices that might be doing who-knows-what, higher bandwidth is needed to maintain a good speed for everyone – multiple cars will move a lot more efficiently with more lanes. 

MegaRitter_infographic_Aug_200 Meg


Topics: Bandwidth analogies

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