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.

Ahmed Aliyu Ahmed
At the tail end of the nineteenth century my grand parents met and my father was born. My father who I didn’t know passed away through a brief fever in a confluence town (Lokoja) in the middle belt part of Nigeria. My upbringing was a bit above middle class and I was lucky to come in terms with mathematics very early in life. When I couldn’t study chemical engineering, I opted for computer science in which I got a diploma from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. In the same institution I under studied in a Cisco facility and also got a B .Sc in Economics. I got my MCP, MCDST, and LINUX CERT from a Kolkatan (India) software training facility jointly sponsored by a New York based consultancy firm (Hudson Consultancy), Tathya in India and NEPC in Nigeria, and some few other IT certifications. I am also an occasional columnist in Guardian Newspaper, CommunicationsWeek and some other IT magazines. I have worked with Aptech World Wide/STPL-Software Technology Park Limited (Nigeria) as a networking instructor/security admin, working on Cisco equipments, and up to this moment I am working as a network security advisor in Sphinx Interactive Solutions coupled with some five years field experience in network support. My contact email address is ahmeddu2020@gmail.com

    World Youth Summit Award 2012: Using your e-power to put MDGs into Action!

    Previous article

    The Reality of a Nigerian Research and Education Network(NgREN)

    Next article

    You may also like


    Leave a reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *