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What is Bandwidth? Definition, Working, Importance, Uses

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Pre-Requisite: Introduction to Bandwidth

Network bandwidth is the maximum capacity of a wired or wireless communications link to deliver data via a network connection in a given amount of time. Bandwidth is typically defined as the number of bits, kilobits, megabits, or gigabits that may be sent in one second. 

Bandwidth and capacity are terms that are used interchangeably to describe the pace at which data is delivered. It is a common misconception that bandwidth is a measure of network speed. Throughput is what bandwidth is all about. Bandwidth in networks refers to how much digital data we can send or receive through a link in a given length of time. It’s also referred to as the data transfer rate. The majority of the time, bandwidth refers to maximum throughput, and the amount of data transferred is measured in bits per second. A bit is the smallest unit of digital data, and it is represented by a 1 or 0.

We might use terms like kilobits per second (Kbps or 1,000 bits per second) or megabits per second (Mbps or 1,000,000 bits per second) to describe how many bits can be delivered or received in a second because the number of bits might be rather enormous. A typical internet speed is around 10Mbps (megabits per second), which equates to roughly 1.3MBps (megabytes per second). By the way, if you’re curious about how 10Mbps translates to 1.3MBps, simply divide by 8, which is the number of bits in each byte.

Working of Bandwidth

A data connection’s bandwidth determines how much data it can send and receive at once. The volume of water that can flow through a conduit can be likened to bandwidth. The larger the diameter of the pipe, the more water can flow through it at once. The same idea applies to bandwidth. The higher the communication link’s capacity, the more data it can handle per second.

As bandwidth grows, so does the cost of a network connection. As a result, a Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) link capable of 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) will be more expensive than one capable of 250 megabits per second (Mbps).

Importance of Bandwidth 

It is the bandwidth of a web page that determines how quickly it will load in a browser. When choosing a web hosting platform, this is arguably the most important factor to consider. It is important to consider how the website and internet connection will impact bandwidth. The bandwidth requirement for a website with a lot of graphics can reach 10 gigabytes or more. The bandwidth usage of a simpler website will also be lower. A faster internet connection will allow you to download web pages and movies smoothly, just as a higher bandwidth will improve the user experience.



Uses of Bandwidth

The following are common some use of bandwidth:

  • When a network link becomes crowded, network engineers have various choices. Increasing bandwidth is the most common option. This can be accomplished by increasing the physical throughput capability of the network or by conceptually splitting traffic across numerous lines using port aggregation and load balancing. However, these methods are not always available.
  • ISPs or network administrators can also employ bandwidth throttling to purposely slow the rate at which data travels across the network (up or down). One of the motives for bandwidth restriction is to reduce network congestion, particularly on public access networks. ISPs use throttling to limit the amount of bandwidth utilized by a certain user or group of users. For example, a service provider may offer a menu of upload and download bandwidth with tiered pricing. ISPs can also set bandwidth limits to balance network demand across all clients.
  • Higher bandwidth allows data to be moved more quickly (although “bandwidth” is not synonymous with “internet speed”). A network with increased bandwidth allows for more devices to join at the same time.
  • In filter or communication channel systems, the bandwidth is sometimes used to denote system bandwidth. When a system is said to have a given bandwidth, it signifies that it can process signals with that frequency range or that it can reduce the bandwidth of a white noise input to that bandwidth.

Measuring Bandwidth

While bandwidth was once measured in bits per second (bps), modern network cables today have a significantly larger capacity, therefore bandwidth is now measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps).

Bandwidth connections can be symmetrical, which means that the data capacity is the same in both directions (upload and download), or asymmetrical, which means that the data capacity is not the same in both directions (upload and download). In asymmetrical connections, which are common in consumer-grade internet broadband connections, upload capacity is frequently lower than download capacity. In enterprise-grade WAN and DIA lines, symmetrical bandwidth is more frequent.

Considerations for Calculating Bandwidth

Several bandwidth calculations have become more sophisticated as a result of technical improvements, and they can vary according to the network link type used. A fiber-optic connection has a much higher bandwidth than a copper Ethernet alternative. This is due to fiber optics utilizing a wide variety of light waves, using time-division multiplexing, and relying on light waves of multiple wavelengths.

As part of the federal telecommunications and information administration’s negotiations with the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the federal government is defining the bandwidth of mobile data networks like Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G as a spectrum that the federal government can license to mobile operators for use in the United States. Using this spectrum requires a license, which is only available to the appropriate company. Wireless technology can then be used to transport data over that spectrum, maximizing the bandwidth of the hardware.

While Wi-Fi does not require a license, it is a disruptive technology. You can set up a wireless network with any Wi-Fi access point (AP) or Wi-Fi router. The spectrum may not be available at all times, which is a constraint. As a result, Wi-Fi bandwidth can suffer when other Wi-Fi APs try to use some or all of the same frequencies.

A bandwidth test can be used to assess effective bandwidth, which is the highest reliable transmission rate a link on any particular transport technology can provide. During a bandwidth test, the time it takes for a given file to leave its point of origin and successfully download at its destination is used to estimate the link’s capacity.

Following a review of network bandwidth usage, determine where apps and data are stored and calculate the average bandwidth requirements for each user and session.

Follow these four steps to figure out how much bandwidth a network uplink or internet broadband requires:

  • Select the program that will be used.
  • Determine each application’s bandwidth requirements.
  • Multiply each application’s application needs by the number of expected concurrent users.
  • Add up all of the application bandwidth numbers.

The same procedure can be applied to determining bandwidth requirements for public or private clouds connected to the internet or via WAN lines. When compared to WAN or DIA connections, however, available bandwidth over a local area network or wireless LAN is frequently far higher. As a result, it’s critical to accurately estimate bandwidth requirements and track connection consumption over time. Monitoring bandwidth utilization over the course of a day, week, month, or year can help network engineers determine whether a WAN/DIA link is sufficient — or whether a capacity expansion is necessary.

Applications and services operate poorly when a network’s bandwidth is insufficient.

Factors Affecting Bandwidth Performance

The following are some factors that affect the performance of the bandwidth:

  • Network performance is influenced by many factors, including the maximum capacity of a network connection. Packet loss, delay, and jitter can all decrease network throughput and cause a high-capacity link to function as if it had less bandwidth available.
  • A typical end-to-end network path consists of several connections, each with varying bandwidth capacities. As a result, the lowest-bandwidth link is frequently referred to as the bottleneck, as it has the potential to reduce the overall capacity of all connections in the path.
  • Multiple aggregated links serving as a single logical connection are used in many enterprise-grade networks. A switch uplink with four aggregated 1 Gbps connections, for example, has a throughput capacity of 4 Gbps. The bandwidth limit would be reduced to 2 Gbps if two of those links failed.

How To Increase Bandwidth?

Bandwidth can be increased with the help of many ways, which you are likely to get from the Internet. some of them are mentioned below.

Internet Plan

Internet Plan helps in increasing the Bandwidth if you go with higher Mbps if you use multiple devices or stream heavy content. There is a lot of connection that gives speeds up to 800-900 Mbps.


Bandwidth can be increased with the help of routers if you use advanced routers for transmission that help in providing higher frequency in case of multiple connections.

Ethernet Cable

Ethernet Cables help in increasing the bandwidth as it provides direct cable connection to the system that helps in reducing connecting issues and also bandwidth issues.

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Last Updated : 13 May, 2023
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