Technology

Bandwidth VS. Latency: what’s the difference?

Bandwidth and latency are both the terms used in the internet of things and they both play a huge role in internet connectivity. Both are impacted by the speed of the internet connection, and both describe what kind of internet connection do you have for your internet browsing. Also, each activity that you perform online requires a certain kind of bandwidth and latency rate. When you apply for an internet connection, you get the option to choose the kind of internet speed that you are opting for, which will also show the bandwidth and latency rate you will be getting. For instance, in Xfinity internet plans, one of the deals that you decide to go for will have its own internet speed, along with bandwidth and latency rate. You can also look it up in your computer software which will be explored further ahead. Let’s look at what each of these terms is;

Bandwidth

It is a measure of how much data can be transferred from one point in a network connection to another point within a specific amount of time. Or you could look at it as to how much data you can download to your device at a specific time. The following example will help to understand the concept of bandwidth. Suppose that bandwidth is a freeway and the data that needs to be transmitted are six cars. Now if there was a higher bandwidth, it would have six lanes to let those six cars pass through it in 1 second. But if a freeway had lower bandwidth, as in fewer lanes or just one, it would take a longer time for six cars to pass through. 

Latency

It is the measure of time it would take for a signal to travel to its destination and back. This concept is mostly explored in gaming, but it is not related to gaming only. Every time you input a request on the internet, like looking up something on a Google search engine or scrolling through social media timeline, a signal is sent to the server to retrieve the information and bring it back to your device. Latency is measured in milliseconds since sending and receiving of data happens pretty quickly. 

With a higher latency rate, the result you will see on your screen will appear to be delayed. It will take longer for the computer to send your input to the server and receive a response. When gamers experience a high latency rate in their internet speed, their game lags, the functions buffer and mostly it disconnects. 

Difference between bandwidth and latency

The internet speed is often confused with the amount of bandwidth being used and its latency rate. But those are completely different terms. Latency does not affect the bandwidth but insufficient or limited bandwidth can affect the latency rate. An internet user with a higher latency rate and lower bandwidth connection will find that a website is taking too long to load for him. But if he has an internet connection with a lower latency rate and higher bandwidth connection, the website will load much quicker.

Improve your bandwidth and latency rate

There are some steps you can take to minimize the latency rate and make the most of your given bandwidth

  • If several devices are being connected to a single internet connection, then the bandwidth is going to be affected. Activities like streaming movies and downloading files require a lot of data which can significantly slow down the internet speed, and result in a lag in your activities. For heavy internet activities like these, you need to apply for higher bandwidth. 
  • If you are a gamer, then you need an internet connection with a lower latency rate. The lower the latency, the better would be your gameplay. If you are playing with a higher latency rate, your gameplay will be affected. You might tell your game character to move forward but they won’t do so for a few seconds. A good latency rate is 150 milliseconds or less. 20ms is considered to be a great latency rate.
  • There are physical objects that can prove to be an obstacle to your internet connection. Walls, floors, furniture, and other physical objects can get in the way of wireless connectivity. The best thing to do would be to move your computer or other devices closer to the router. The signal interference from other household appliances like wireless speakers, microwaves, and mobile chargers can also be reduced so that the wireless signal can travel on a more direct route towards your computer.
  • Netflix, YouTube, and other websites take up a lot of bandwidth from the internet connection and severely affect the ping and latency rate. If there are websites like these opened up in the background, they should be closed. Also disconnect the devices that are not being used, since the more devices are connected to the internet, the more bandwidth is needed and disrupted. 

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