Difference Between Bandwidth And Latency: All You Need To Know

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difference between bandwidth and latency

Shopping for brand new internet plans? You might have noticed how internet service providers only advertise their internet speeds. The number shown and advertised by your internet service provider is known as bandwidth. Have you ever wondered what is internet bandwidth? Or what is Good bandwidth speed? We will be discussing all these factors in this article. While you are choosing a new internet service provider or internet package, bandwidth is just one part of the equation. There are tons of factors that you should look out for while searching for a new internet connection. Apart from Bandwidth, Latency also plays a vital role in how fast your internet reacts and feels. Today we will be discussing what is internet latency? Bandwidth vs Latency and how do they affect your internet speed? Sit tight, read till the end, and then make a well-educated decision about your internet service provider and packages.

What Is Internet Bandwidth?

In simple terms, Bandwidth is a measurement unit for how much data can be transferred over a certain period of time. Bandwidth is measured in MBPS (Megabit per second). Let’s take an example, imagine your internet connection as a highway, bandwidth is the amount of traffic that can travel on that highway. Increase the number of lanes and more traffic will be able to pass through at the same time. Basically, high bandwidth means better and faster internet connectivity in less time. Now that you know what is internet bandwidth, let’s move onto internet latency. 

What Is Internet Latency?

Latency (also known as ping) is the time between you sending a request for data and the data getting back to you. For example, you put in the request for opening a web page, and the time is taken by your internet connection to open that web page is known as latency. Latency is measured in ms (milliseconds) and it is a term that gamers are quite familiar with. Unlike bandwidth, you should be searching for the lowest number possible in Latency. What is good latency for internet? Well it mostly depends on the task you are doing, anything between 5 MS to 50 MS is often considered good.

Bandwidth vs Latency: Which Is More Crucial?

Now comes the question that has been bothering internet enthusiasts for long. Bandwidth vs Latency, which one makes up for a better internet connection? In a general sense, Bandwidth plays a bigger role in the speed of your internet connection. This is the primary reason why Fiber optical internet service providers, cable & DSL internet companies advertise bandwidth value. Latency ensures how reactive your internet connection is and how quickly you will get a response from the server for your request. High bandwidth and low latency both make up for your internet speed, but based on your internet activity, one may become more crucial than the other one. Now that you understand the difference between bandwidth and latency, we have broken down activities and what’s more, needed in those activities.

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1. Streaming Video & Music

When you are watching a video online or streaming your favorite shows and movies on Netflix or just listening to music on Spotify, it’s the bandwidth that makes or breaks your experience. Even if you have pretty high latency, your experience will be smooth enough if you have huge enough bandwidth then video playback will be smooth. However, things will be pretty different if you have low bandwidth. You will experience poor video quality, audio interruptions, and buffer. 

Things change if you are streaming content on Twitter or YouTube Live, high latency will cause you tons of problems. High latency will cause a big gap in what you are doing on your device and what your viewers are seeing on their screens. Most viewers will leave your live stream simply because of the delay and confusion. As we said above, to measure bandwidth vs latency, you need to know what activity is being performed online. 

2. Online Gaming

If you are a hardcore gamer then you already know the importance of low latency in online multiplayer games. Having a huge bandwidth is all good but server response time is the biggest part of online gaming. You would want your actions to happen as instantly as possible. Imagine you shooting an enemy and by the time the server acts on that information, your enemy has moved from his position. An ideal latency can be the difference between victory and loss. 

3. Video Conferencing

Work from home culture is becoming more and more common and that has given the rise to video conferencing. This activity is one of the many that requires good bandwidth and latency. You need high bandwidth for good video quality and low latency to minimize the delays.

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Bandwidth vs Latency: Internet Connection Types

Different internet connection types offer different bandwidth and latency. This is the biggest factor in good or bad bandwidth and latency. The difference between bandwidth and latency can help you determine which internet connection is better or worse than the other one.

1. Fiber Optic Internet Connection

If you aren’t aware of this, then the Fiber optic internet connection is considered the best internet service type. It offers unmatched bandwidth, stability, and security in internet connections. Fiber optics internet service uses glass mesh fiber cables to transfer data at the speed of light. Which in turn supersedes all internet connections in terms of high bandwidth and low latency. 

Do keep in mind that fiber doesn’t always provide the lowest possible latency. In almost 90% of the cases, fiber internet connectivity offers the lowest latency but there are situations where cable internet beats fiber in terms of low latency. So before choosing between cable internet connection and fiber in your area, do a little research and choose a plan that suits your needs and online activities. 

2. Cable Internet Connection

In terms of internet hierarchy, cable internet connection is the second-best just after fiber. Cable internet connection uses copper TV cables to transfer data to homes. The only place where fiber internet loses is availability. Fiber internet requires huge installation costs that’s why it is available in limited areas. The cable on the other hand is available almost everywhere throughout the USA. 

Cable internet can offer some great bandwidth but not as good as fiber internet. In the case of Latency, signals do travel faster in cable connections, but in the long-distance, those signals lose their speed. The cable internet connection can provide incredibly low latency if the data transfer is in a short distance. Fiber is better at carrying data over long distances that’s why it is considered better. 

3. DSL Internet Connection

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) ranks third in the internet hierarchy chart. DSL internet connection uses telephone lines to deliver internet connectivity to homes. It can provide good enough bandwidth and latency. DSL internet connection’s speed heavily depends on where you live, the farther you live from your ISP, the slower your speeds will be. If you require huge bandwidth in your daily routine then DSL internet connectivity may not be the best choice for you. If you don’t have access to cable or Fiber internet then DSL will be your ideal choice.

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4. Satellite Internet Connectivity

Satellite internet ranks lowest in terms of speed, cost, and latency while choosing a new internet connection. The maximum bandwidth offered by satellite internet is 100 MBPS which is quite low in comparison to other internet connection types. As for latency, it is quite poor as the signal has to travel from your home to outer space and back to your home. The latency offered by satellite internet is so poor that it can’t be used for gaming at all. Overall, if you have any other options to choose from other than satellite internet then go for it.

What Is Good Bandwidth Speed?

The answer to this question mostly depends on your online activities and internet usage. To find out what is a good bandwidth speed for you, you have to consider several factors. The number of people using the internet, what kind of online activity every person has, and much more. Here are some general ideas for good bandwidth speed. 

  • Single person home: 5-10 MBPS
  • 1-2 people: 25-60 MBPS
  • 3+ People: 100 MBPS- 1 GBPS
What Is Good Latency For the Internet?

Ideal latency also depends on your online activities. For general web browsing, latency lower than 100 MS will be perfect. If you are a hardcore gamer then you need latency below 50 at any cost, for an even smoother experience latency below 30 is a must. 

Final Take: Bandwidth vs Latency

Well, there is no winner in this comparison as both these factors are crucial in determining the ideal internet connectivity. So the concept of Bandwidth vs Latency is pointless. You need high bandwidth and low latency to find an internet service provider that understands what you need. We at Club HDTV do thorough research about internet service providers in the USA. If you don’t wish to do the research yourself then we help you find internet service providers near you that offer high bandwidth and the lowest possible latency. Give us a call and find out about the best options in your area. 

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