What is Internet Bandwidth?
Internet bandwidth can be thought of as an electronic byway that
connects the Internet to your computer. Increasing bandwidth (widening
the lane) allows more traffic to flow, increasing speed. Having a little
or a lot of Internet bandwidth available makes the difference between
watching a graphic-intensive Web page load in phases over a period of
several minutes, or having it pop into your window like a flash of
lightening. The more bandwidth your connection has, the faster it will
load and the more time you will save.
Internet bandwidth test meters are available online to test your
connection speed. The hosting site will upload blocks of data recording
the amount of time it takes to complete the transfers. Speed is a
measurement of how much data can be transferred from the Internet to
your computer per second. A graph will reveal the results, allowing you
to see if your connection is performing as expected. Close unnecessary
background processes and programs before you start, and take several
bandwidth tests from several sites to establish an average, true speed.
Unfortunately we cannot “unthrottle” bandwidth at will. Internet
service providers (ISPs) allot computer connections so much bandwidth
based on the price of the package purchased. To get more speed, you have
to upgrade to a package with a greater allowance of bandwidth. In the
case of dial-up, the slowest type of Internet service, the technology
itself limits the connection speed to less than 56 kilobits per second
(kbps). As a point of reference, one Megabyte is 8,192 kilobits so
transferring one Megabyte of data over dial-up can take close to three
minutes. This limitation eventually pushes most customers towards faster
There are several different types of high-speed Internet one can
get depending on local availability. Options include Digital Subscriber
Line (DSL) offered over conventional copper telephone wires, cable
Internet via the neighborhood cable TV provider, and fiber optic
services available over newer fiber optic wires that are replacing
conventional copper lines in many regions. If you live in a rural area,
dial-up or satellite Internet might be your only choices.
DSL serves up the most affordable Internet packages, several times
faster than dial-up. DSL entry-packages can start as low as $13 - $15 US
Dollars (USD) monthly for speeds up to 768 kilobits per second (kbps). A
connection of this sort normally delivers one Megabyte of data in 12-15
seconds, a big improvement over dial-up’s three minutes. DSL also
offers much faster packages that compete with cable.
Entry-level cable packages typically offer a heftier allotment of
Internet bandwidth, perhaps up to 3000 kbps (advertised as three
megabits per second), delivering a Megabyte in about three seconds.
Subscription prices vary, generally starting at $30 - $40 USD monthly.
Packages increase in speed and price from there, though many cable
providers offer only a single package. The faster the package, the
higher the price tends to be within the normal range of the cable
Fiber optic Internet services start as high as 10 or 20 mbps, with
top-tier packages offering 50 mbps of Internet bandwidth. That’s a
transfer rate (speed) of roughly a Megabyte per second, two Megabytes
per second, and five Megabytes per second, respectively. The fastest
possible Internet packages currently offered cost an excess of $100 USD
Cable and fiber optic services will often bundle TV and digital
phone with Internet access for one monthly bill. Bundles are optional
and can be customized to exclude a service that isn't required. For
those who would like DSL but do not have landline service, some
telephone companies now offer “naked DSL” or DSL without telephone
service for customers who use their cell phones instead of landlines.
To find an ISP with affordable Internet bandwidth in your area,
enter your town into a search engine with the type of service you’d
like: DSL, cable or fiber optic service. You can also visit the websites
of your local telephone and cable companies. Additionally, there are
several websites dedicated to comparing, reviewing and listing ISPs by
region and area code. Some of these sites allow customers to leave
feedback regarding their opinions and experiences with DSL providers,
cable companies and fiber optic providers.