Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Bandwidth and Speed

Bandwidth vs Speed

Bandwidth is a very old term that predates the advent of computers and all other digital technologies. It is widely used in analog technologies like radio transmission, acoustics, and many others. In computing, bandwidth is often used to indicate the amount of data that is being, or can be, transferred at a given time. This is often measured in bits per second with common values expressed in thousands (kilobits per second), millions (megabits per second), and in billions (gigabits per second). Speed is simply a description of how fast things can be done. In computing, speed and bandwidth are often used interchangeably since they often mean the same thing.

A very good example when bandwidth would directly correlate to speed is when you are downloading a file across the network or Internet. Greater bandwidth means that more of the file is being transferred at any given time. The file would be therefore be downloaded faster. This is also applicable when you are browsing the Internet as greater bandwidth would result in web pages loading faster and video streaming to be smoother.

But in certain cases, speed and bandwidth do not literally mean the same thing. This is true when you talk about real time applications like VoIP or online gaming. In these cases, latency or response time is more important than having more bandwidth. Even if you have a lot of bandwidth, you may experience choppy voice transmission or response lag if your latency is too high. Upgrading your bandwidth would probably not help since it would no longer be used. Latency can’t be upgraded easily as it requires that any noise be minimized as well as the amount of time that it takes for packets to move from source to destination and vice versa.

To obtain the best possible speed for your network or Internet connection, it is not enough to have a high bandwidth connection. It is also important that your latency is low, to ensure that the information reaches you quickly enough. This only matters though if you have enough bandwidth as low latencies without enough bandwidth would still result in a very slow connection.


1. Bandwidth is a measurement of how much data can be transferred at a time while speed is a measurement of how fast things are done

2. Bandwidth and speed can be synonymous when measuring how fast you can download a file

3. Bandwidth may not directly translate to speed in real time applications

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1 Comment

  1. if we have link of Bandwidth 8 mb, then what will be its speed(download and upload). how to calculate download and upload speed for a particular link ?

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