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“Marvelously baked pastries station”? “Monkeys boisterously playing softball”? Unfortunately, Mbps doesn’t stand for any of that, but having the right number is key to the success of your business. Mbps stands for megabits per second and measures the speed and bandwidth of your internet service. Almost everything these days relies on a consistent internet connection, but all of that can stop dead without the right amount of Mbps. Here’s a full guide to Mbps and why every bit matters.
If you’ve ever signed a business internet contract with your Internet Service Provider (ISP), you probably recognize the terms Kbps, Mbps, and Gbps. Think of these speeds like watts and kilowatts—gigabits being the largest measurement and kilobits, the smallest. Internet speeds are most commonly defined in Mbps, or Megabits per second. A megabit is one million bits.
Many people think the difference between Mbps and MBps is a typo, but the two terms are far from interchangeable. While they are both computer terms, Mbps stands for Megabits per second and is typically used for measuring internet download speeds. MBps, on the other hand, stands for Megabytes per second and indicates a file size.
A Megabyte is comprised of eight Megabits. An easy way to remember this is the more capital letters, the larger the measurement. So a file that is one Megabyte in size will need a connection speed of eight Megabits per second to download it in one second.
Internet connection speed and bandwidth are similar, but not necessarily the same. In simplified terms, bandwidth is the maximum speed your system or device is capable of using, whereas your Mbps speed is the actual download or upload speed experienced from moment to moment.
For example, let’s say your internet service package is for 25 Mbps. That number is your bandwidth. You go to download a file, and the site hosting the file limits data transfer rate to 5 Mbps. In this case, your connection’s bandwidth is 25 Mbps, but the download speed you’re getting is only 5 Mbps—it’s been limited by an external factor—and you’re not able to use your full bandwidth.
If you know your data transfer rate will be limited by an external factor, you can choose a package with less bandwidth to avoid paying for more than you need.
You may have noticed Mbps represented as something like 25/5 Mbps on your bill. What does this mean? Simply, it signifies your download speeds and upload speeds respectively. Download speed is what determines how quickly you can do browsing and video streaming. Most internet uses fall into the download category, which is why you get faster speeds on that side. Upload speeds are more of a concern if you’re doing videoconferencing or uploading large files over your network. discuss that with your internet provider and opt for a higher upload speed.
Now that you understand what Mbps means on a technical level, see why it matters when it comes to running your business.
Most essential functions of a business rely in one way or another on an internet connection. From videoconferencing to processing credit card payments, a business’s success is inextricable from a reliable internet network. When a network goes down, those essential functions fail and a business’s ability to serve their clientele stops dead. Frequent glitches weaken rapport and drive customers away.
To verify that you’re getting every last bit of internet speed you’re being billed for each month, perform a speed test. If you have any issues, you should contact your internet provider and discuss the results.
You know how you run out of hot water faster when you’re taking a shower, running the washing machine and dishwasher at the same time? The same principle applies to your network. The more people in your office connecting multiple devices, the quicker you’ll hit what’s called a data cap, or your max internet usage before your download speeds will slow. For a small business, that means employees end up wasting time—and your money—twiddling their thumbs while waiting on slow downloads and uploads.
To determine the right internet speed for your needs, tally up your employees and think about their daily work. Or, check out a chart of Mbps speeds that correlate with downloading files, streaming videos, and similar internet-based tasks. Time is money, and it might be worth it to pay more for a better internet package than deal with lag because of a slow, low-bandwidth connection.
If you don’t know anything about cars, it’s easy to get taken for a ride at the dealership. The same goes for internet speed. Instead of buying the Rolls Royce of internet packages, you may only need a modest mid-level sedan. By determining exactly what you need and ensuring you understand Mbps, you won’t end up paying for more bandwidth than your devices can handle.
So how much network speed do you actually need? The answer depends on several factors. How data-intensive are the tasks you need your internet service to perform? How many people will be working off of your connection? And how many devices will be performing those tasks at one time? If you are working in an office with multiple employees using multiple devices at once, your upload and download speeds will slow as your broadband gets eaten up more quickly.
The basic rule of thumb is to determine how much speed you need to perform your most intensive tasks, and then multiply that number by the maximum number of users that might be doing those tasks at once. Here’s how much data some of the more intensive online tasks consume:
|General Browsing and Social Media||1 Mbps|
|Email with Large Attachments||1.15 Mbps|
|VoIP Video Calls||1.28 Mbps|
|Streaming HD Video||1.5 Mbps|
|Uploading Large Files||2 Mbps|
|Cloud Backup||2 Mbps|
These activities tend to hog small businesses’ bandwidth the most. So, if you do a lot of videoconferencing with clients and employees, and you might have as many as ten staff members on a call at once, you would need a faster bit rate, around 40 Mbps, for the call (4 Mbps x ten employees). If you have ten other employees who might be streaming a training video at the same time, you’ll want to add another 15 Mbps (1.5 Mbps x ten additional employees), bringing you up to a total of 55 Mbps for peak activity.
It’s a good idea to allow some buffer to avoid bringing your whole business to halt. So, in the above scenario, aim for 60 Mbps to allow some wiggle room in the network. It’s helpful to use a speed test tool to compare this theoretical number to your current actual speed to look for any other bottlenecks. Also keep in mind that Wifi connections typically require more bandwidth than an Ethernet connection because some of the signal gets lost in the air during transmission. Ethernet can give you faster speeds if that’s a concern, though you sacrifice mobility.
Learn more about what these speeds can do for your business:
*Speeds subject to availability. Click or call for more information.
Buying internet for your business may seem daunting. But familiarizing yourself with Mbps, why it’s vital for your business, and how much you need to operate efficiently puts you a step ahead of the pack. With these recommendations, you’ll know what to look for from service providers and exactly how much speed you need to thrive.