Bandwidth, latency and throughput describe characteristics of telecommunication and data communication links. When comparing offerings from telecom companies and Internet service providers vying for your business, it’s important to understand the relationship between these characteristics, so you get the right solutions for your business’ needs.
Bandwidth is a measure of how much data over time a communication link can handle, its capacity. This is typically measured as kbps (kilobits – thousands of bits per second), Mbps (megabits – millions of bits per second) or Gbps (gigabits – billions of bits per second).
Think of lanes on a road. A mile of eight-lane freeway has more capacity for cars than a mile of two-lane road.
Latency is the time it takes for a packet to get across the network, from source to destination. It is measured in units of time — ms (millisecond, or 1/1,000 of a second).
Following the road analogy, it’s how long it takes you to get to work. Longer is not better (assuming you like where you work).
Throughput is the actual amount of data that is successfully sent/received over the communication link. Throughput is presented as kbps, Mbps or Gbps, and can differ from bandwidth due to a range of technical issues, including latency, packet loss, jitter and more.
Rush hour traffic, speed limits, potholes and stalled vehicles prevent you and your fellow travelers from zipping along.
ISPs and carriers advertise bandwidth because that value is known, and it represents the best-case scenario. But their hype about “game-changing gig speeds blazing into town” may be misleading. A high-bandwidth service that suffers from high latency may not be the best solution for certain business applications, like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video conferencing and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).
Other Bandwidth Considerations
Services can be symmetrical (same download and upload data transfer rates) or asymmetrical (higher download and lower upload data transfer rates). Cable companies commonly provide asymmetrical service, assuming people have a greater need to download information, like large files or videos, rather than upload large amounts of data. Even in organizations where large amounts of data are uploaded, that’s usually done by a small number of users.
Bandwidth can be dedicated – all yours, all the time, or shared – you get up to the maximum bandwidth offered, on a best effort basis. Some providers offer bandwidth on demand, also called dynamic bandwidth allocation, or burstable bandwidth. This option allows increased amounts of bandwidth at specific times, or for specific purposes.
So, how much bandwidth does your organization actually need? Here are some things to consider.
- How many people use the network?
- What is the network used for?
- Are employees accessing applications in the cloud, or a data center?
- Do users connect to branch locations via a wide area network (WAN)?
- What core applications are running and how bandwidth-intensive is each? i.e., streaming 4k video consumes much more bandwidth than reading email.
- Are secure virtual private network (VPN) connections needed?
- Does your company need encryption for compliance purposes?
We’ve put together a Bandwidth Comparison Chart summarizing service options, bandwidth, investment and a few other key features to help you decide which types of bandwidth are right for your organization. Get the Bandwidth Comparison Chart here.
High Performance Solutions for High Bandwidth Networks
As the need for bandwidth continues to increase, so will the capacity to serve those demands – and the business risks associated with network outages. Ecessa’s SD-WAN solutions allow companies to combine any services from any providers to achieve their bandwidth (and throughput) targets, to a maximum bandwidth of 20 Gbps.
Adding Ecessa solutions to a business network ensures resiliency and protection against carrier outages. Networks with two or more diverse connections can be configured to provide automatic link failover or to duplicate data over multiple connections. If one connection is lost, network traffic continues to flow across the undamaged links with no loss of data and no downtime.