What does megabytes per second mean?
Alongside price, speed is one of the key factors people talk about when it comes to choosing broadband. All of the ISPs quote the broadband download speed as a key part of their advertising, while discussions on download speeds have become mainstream news thanks to the government’s Digital Britain report.
Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second, commonly written as Mb or Mbps (as in 24Mb, or 24Mbps). It essentially means the rates at which data is transferred either from (download) or to (upload) the website’s server (the computer hosting the website you’re visiting).
The fundamental unit of digital data is the byte and all digital data is constructed from numerous bytes (much like the fundamental building block of a house may be a brick, but 1000’s of bricks are required to build a house). Because the number of bytes in many files is a very large number (i.e. a single photo could consist of 2-5 million bytes!) digital data is abbreviated using a framework of words as follows:
|Terminology||Number of bytes|
|Megabyte||1000,000 bytes (or 1000 kilobytes)|
|Gigabyte||1000,000,000 bytes (or 1000 megabytes)|
To put all this in the context of the activities the average user may use the internet for:
- An average word document is around 50-100 kilobytes in size
- An average website, photo or music track is around a couple of megabytes in size
- A video can range from hundreds of megabytes to several gigabytes in size
- Streaming 60 minuets of standard definition video over the internet can consume between 50 and 255 megabytes
- Streaming 60 minuets of radio over the internet can consume over 60 megabytes