Three years ago when I ask people in my neighborhood in Nigeria how often they connect to the Internet, most replies I got from people were: ‘once a month’, and ‘twice a month’. These days when I ask the same question I get quite a stunning answer: “I am permanently online”. Thanks to the emergence of the post PC devices, the bandwidth is going round. Bandwidth is the most perishable commodity in the world, if you have it use it or its gone. So, what is bandwidth?
A couple of analogies could answer my question
Let’s say at a family dinner mummy served a big bowl of milk with different sizes of straw. Those that seep with the bigger straws have big bandwidth while those that seep with smaller straws have small bandwidth. Now take the big bowl of milk as our global Internet, and the different sizes of straw as our paid connections from our Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Also, compare a 50-sitter bus and a four sitter Honda Accord that are destined to Abuja. The 50- sitter bus depicts more bandwidth, off course the Honda Accord will be faster, but speed is different from bandwidth. The Honda Accord will deliver products faster than the trailer (this is connection speed); but the trailer will convey more goods (this is bigger bandwidth). Therefore, connection speed is the amount of data that can be transferred (downloaded) or received (uploaded) per second, usually measured in megabits (Mb), bandwidth in this case is capacity.
The word “bandwidth” mostly goes with the word “Internet”. The Internet is a computer network (the largest in the world), A computer network is an architecture that allows computing devices to communicate. The Internet is now a fundamental human necessity; it has become as fundamental as air, food, and shelter in our daily lives. In several countries, including Estonia, France, Spain, Finland, and Greece, Internet access is already a human right. Without doubt, our world has changed to a much more Internet-focused one, and businesses need to plan and scale their operations to address the demands of the Internet ecosystem. In the Internet ecosystem, bandwidth counts a lot. Therefore the bandwidth you have determines the quality of your communication on the Internet.
In the family bowl of milk analogy we sited, while the milk is measured in liters, our bandwidth is measured in bits and bytes. In this regard:
8 bits = 1 byte
1000 bytes = 1 kilobyte
1000 kilobytes = 1 megabyte
1000 megabytes = 1 gigabyte
1000 gigabytes = 1 terabyte
1000 terabytes = 1 petabyte
1000 petabytes = 1 exabyte
1000 exabytes = 1 zettabyte
1000 zettabytes = 1 yottabyte
1000 yottabytes = 1 brontobyte
1000 brontobytes = 1 geopbyte
In the interest of simplicity, 1 megabyte could be the size of a passport picture. If you have hundred passport pictures on your computer, it means in 1 second you can move them to a neighboring computer connected via cable, that is what we mean by 100MB per second (MB/S)
Lest I forget, bandwidth here refers to the Internet bandwidth. Also, the Internet is different from the World Wide Web (www) which people use interchangeably. The birth of www (World Wide Web), commonly known as the web was what got the brick and mortar businesses onto the Internet, as buying an item now is just a mouse click away. The Internet is a broader architecture than www. As a subset of the Internet, www gave a lot of beauty and interactivity to the Internet, It is one of the services the Internet offers. A British engineer and computer scientist, Sir Tim Berners-Lee discovered a programming language called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of WebPages, and then of course you need a web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer on your computer. The purpose of a web browser is to read HTML documents and compose them into visible or audible web pages.
Another import distinction we have to get is between bandwidth and throughput. The fact that you bought I megabyte per second Internet connection doesn’t mean you will always get I megabyte per second. Therefore throughput is the connection you are getting at a particular time which could be less than the bandwidth bought. It is like connecting a big pipe of water to your house and the water is just trickling. When you buy an Internet facility that can support a bandwidth of 200MB per second, but what you are getting is 100MB per second, then the 100MB per second is your throughput, and 200MB is your bandwidth. If you are transferring data at 200MB per second at a particular time, you are exhausting your full bandwidth. At that point your bandwidth = throughput.