Size Doesn’t Matter: Bandwidth vs. Latency

In an earlier article, we talked about what latency is and how it should affect your choice of Internet Service Provider (ISP). Today, we’ll be going more into detail about what you should be looking out for when it comes to pinpointing the culprit behind unsatisfactory, slow internet connectivity.

We always see this advertised as a main perk of broadband plans: bandwidth.
Bandwidth and latency are two separate issues. Bandwidth refers to the data throughput transmitted or received in a fixed amount of time. It’s measured in bits per second, and is misunderstood to be a gauge of internet connectivity speeds – and it does get confusing, especially when1Gbps brings 1GB to mind. Except that they’re entirely different concepts – storage is measured in bytes (B) while bandwidth is measured in bits (b), therefore, 1Gbps is equivalent to 0.125GBps. Doesn’t look so fast now, does it?

Latency is the technical term for what we usually call lag. It is the amount of time one packet of data takes to get from one designated point to the other. Expressed in terms of milliseconds (ms) and referred to as ping rate, an acceptable ping rate is anything below 100ms, though gamers and power users might look for ping rates of about 20-40ms.

With latency also comes a new term – contention ratio – which is the number of users sharing the same data capacity. Take the famous water pipe analogy: without any smaller pipes branching out, water pressure is high, causing massive output. The moment you have smaller pipes branching out, water pressure is lowered, and output is reduced. In terms of contention ratio, less is better. A typical contention ratio for corporate broadband plans is within the range of 20:1 to 50:1. For residential areas, the contention ratio is inevitably higher.

All factors considered, bandwidth should not be the only statistic you look at when choosing a suitable business broadband plan. With so many service providers offering broadband plans, it’s crucial to choose one that is the closest fit for your business needs. If you’re a SoHo (small office home office) owner, you may not need broadband plans that are really meant for bigger firms, and for larger firms, consider internet service providers that give you a dedicated account manager and prompt technical support. It is crucial for office connectivity to remain stable, constant and reliable without sacrificing on speed, so be sure to take all these factors into consideration before making your decision!


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