Network Bandwidth Primer

Network Bandwidth Primer


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As well as reliability and functionality, the usefulness of a computer is also measured in terms of its performance. Network speed, in particular, relies on a number of interlinking factors.

Network speed
Most users want their networks to run fast in all circumstances. In some instances, network delays can last a few milliseconds and have little to no effect on system performance. Conversely, other network delays can have severe consequences.

The following scenarios are particularly sensitive to poor network speeds:
The time taken to download a file, operating system patch or application;
• The time taken to load a new web page;
• The time taken to establish a new connection;
• The ability to seamlessly stream long videos.

The importance of bandwidth
Bandwidth is central to network speed. In terms of computer networking, bandwidth refers to the data transfer rate of a given interface or connection. Essentially, bandwidth signifies the capacity of a network connection. If the network has a greater capacity, or bandwidth, it will be more likely to perform well.

Measuring bandwidth
When measuring bandwidth, we must record the volume of data that passes through a network connection within a given time period. This measurement is recorded in bits per second (bps). There are a number of tools available for measuring bandwidth and many are free for online use. It is, however, difficult to measure bandwidth precisely as it differs according to hardware configurations, software characteristics and software usage.

Broadband speed
Faster broadband connections are sometimes referred to as being ‘high bandwidth’. The differentiation between high and low bandwidth has changed as technology has developed.
Nevertheless, bandwidth is only one factor that affects perceived network speed. Network performance, or latency, is a lesser-known factor that also plays an important role.

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