Learning About Routers and Internet Security

Latency, Bandwidth, And Data Caps – Making Sense Of 3 Critical Internet Connection Terms

High-speed internet is more than a luxury in the modern world – it's a basic necessity. Slow internet can limit your entertainment options, make staying in touch with friends and family challenging, and even impact your work life. Unfortunately, deciphering the details of high-speed internet plans can sometimes feel like reading a foreign language.

Choosing a new plan without being a technical wizard might feel challenging, but only a few terms are genuinely important to understand. This guide will help demystify three common internet connection terms so you can compare your options like a pro. 

Latency: Don't Let Lag Get You Down

Latency is a misunderstood and often ignored aspect of any internet connection. Latency refers to the time it takes for packets from your computer to reach a remote server. You'll usually see latency measured in milliseconds (ms), and this value is the one-way trip time from your computer to a destination.

Latency is critical, and high latency values can be especially noticeable in teleconferencing software or online games, where it can produce a delay known as lag. Latency depends on more than just your service provider, but higher-speed connections will generally result in much lower latency. If you're suffering from noticeable lag on your home internet connection, an upgrade will likely help.

Bandwidth: Eliminating Bottlenecks

Most people use bandwidth and internet speed interchangeably. Bandwidth is typically the top-line value for internet service plans, and you'll usually see it measured in megabits per second (Mbps) or gigabits per second (Gbps). While higher bandwidth values will produce faster speeds, the reality is a little more complex.

Bandwidth is essentially the maximum amount of data your connection can handle simultaneously. More bandwidth means more speed for single tasks and allows you to do more at once. If you want to stream from numerous televisions or have multiple family members using the internet at once, then more bandwidth will prevent any one user from bottlenecking your connection.

Data Caps: Hitting Your Limit

Not all high-speed plans come with data caps, but many do. While bandwidth tells you how much data you can pull in at once, your data cap tells you the total amount of monthly data you can use. Most providers will limit your speed once you hit your data cap or offer an option to pay for additional full-speed data at a la carte prices.

Typical users won't usually hit their plan's data cap, but you should still be aware of any limits your provider imposes. Most providers offer a dashboard to track your usage, so you can monitor how close you are to your cap each month and upgrade to a plan with a less restrictive cap if necessary.

To learn more about high-speed internet service, reach out to a local service provider.