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Lesson 6: How Computer Speeds are Measured

The Internet

Lesson 6: How Computer Speeds are Measured

How Connection Speeds Are Measured

Bandwidth is measured by the amount of information that can be transmitted per second. The measurement used is bps, and is the smallest unit of information handled by a computer. In its digital form, it's a 1 or a 0. Bits don't mean much by themselves, but in groups of eight they form bytes that can be used in various combinations to represent letters and numbers.

Today's connection speeds to the Internet are measured in Kbps (kilobits per second) and Mbps (megabits per second).

       1,024   bps = 1  Kbps
       1,048,576   bps = 1  Mbps

That means a 56 Kbps connection under ideal conditions can transfer 57,344 bps (56 x 1,024 bps) from the Internet to your computer. In reality, most 56 Kbps connections transfer around 48,000 bps.


Want to learn more? Explore Activity 1: How Bandwidth Translates Into Speed.