Everything Small Business Owners Need to Know About Internet Speed

As any small business owner knows, there are countless technological and logistical challenges involved in running your own company, but reliable and speedy internet can help make these things easier.

Let’s break down everything you need to know about internet speed so that you can focus on what really matters: Conquering the business frontier.

The basics: throughput and bandwidth

Throughput measures the actual speed of data on a network, whereas bandwidth is the theoretical measure of the speed of data. Having a good sense of both of these numbers will help you understand how well your network is performing.

This is important because faster internet means greater productivity. In an increasingly virtual world, where employees are dependent on remote collaboration, reliable and speedy internet allows for easy use of file-sharing technology, remote work communications platforms and a seamless way to send large files back and forth.

And, of course, for retail businesses, functions like processing payments, running loyalty programs and managing inventory all happen online. You’ve probably moved tasks such as building business plans, client outreach, tracking marketing KPIs and accounting online. This is all to say that fast and dependable internet isn’t just an easier way to run a business, it’s absolutely essential to a company’s overall success.

What is Mbps? 

Internet speed, or throughput, is in megabits per second, abbreviated as Mbps. This is like miles per hour.

Your internet service provider offers speeds in Mbps. The speeds are the rate at which data travels between your internet connection and your computer. You’ll experience these speeds in downloads and uploads.

Download and upload speed is, of course, crucial for business owners. Download speed refers to how quickly you can receive data from the internet onto your computer, while upload speed is the reverse, how quickly you can send digital data from your computer to the internet.

One megabit is the equivalent of one million bits. A bit is the smallest unit of measure in data. So if you have 50 Mbps speed, that means 50 megabits of data can travel to your computer in a second. Or you can look at it as 50 million binary digits of data per second. The higher your Mbps speed, the faster the data will get to you. That’s really what you need to know.

What is MBps? Looks the same, totally different

Now it gets confusing. The term to measure the size of the file you’re downloading or uploading is almost exactly the same as megabits.

The term is megabytes per second, abbreviated as MBps. This is the measurement of how big each of the files is that you receive (download) or send (upload) through your internet connection. All of the content that you download or upload uses a quantity of data which is measured in megabytes. The more megabytes in the file, the more megabits it takes to send. That’s one reason your transmission speed is faster or slower.

Know what you’ll do online to know the Mbps you’ll need  

When you’re thinking about how much Mbps (speed) you’ll need, think about how much MBps (size of the files) you will use. The greater your bytes, the more speed you will need to make the transmission as smooth as possible.

No matter the business—e-commerce, hospitality, finance, consultancy—download and upload speed will undoubtedly come into play. If you or your employees are downloading a lot of large files, uploading documents with a lot of images or  participating in regular virtual meetings (which take both upload and download capabilities), you’ll need a higher internet speed. Video conferencing, cloud computing, and streaming services will also all be impacted by download and upload speed.

Something else to keep in mind is that the larger the number of employees, the faster you’ll want your download and upload speed to be. Simply put, more employees means more people downloading and uploading data, which requires more speed.

Just remember this:

Speed is measured in Mbps: megabits

Size is measured in MBps: megabytes

To get specific about your bits and bytes, check out these instant calculators for downloads and uploads.

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