Bandwidth Speed Key Terms
Make sense of terms you'll encounter when learning about bandwidth speedBandwidth is the amount of traffic or data transfer that takes place over a network connection. Usually, when speaking of bandwidth speed, that network is the Internet service provider, which may be using a digital service line (DSL line) or cable modem technology. A provider may quote you a speed, but your actual speed may vary because of a number of factors.
Making sense of how to compute bandwidth speed is easier when you know the meaning of some of the key terms involved. You may also notice the speed differs when downloading data compared to uploading. The number of users accessing the connection at the same time may also affect the speeds for certain types of technology.
BroadbandBroadband generally means a data connection that's faster than a standard dial-up modem. Technologies that achieve these speeds are DSL and cable modem technology. The term broadband may refer to several different technologies, but they may not all transmit data at the same speed.
ThroughputThroughput measures the actual amount of data that the user receives over the connection. Some of the data is just signal noise and doesn't count in the measurement of throughput.
Bandwidth capMany Internet service providers do not provide unlimited use of their connection to their users, but effectively cap the total monthly amount of bandwidth each user can use. The maximum amount before you incur extra charges is the bandwidth cap.
LatencyNetworks don't all work at the same speeds. Some are faster than others, and the amount of time data takes to go from one device to another in a network, known as latency, is another measure of the speed.
BackboneThe backbone of a network is the main trunk line where the data flows. Connections can branch off on lesser data lines from the main one. The speed of the network depends on all of the paths that data travels over, not just the main backbone.
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