Have you come across “Mbps” and “MBps” and wondered what, if any, difference there is between the two? You’re not the only one. Many people, especially those who are shopping for new Internet service, see the two terms and wonder what exactly sets them apart.
In computer lingo, the lower-case “b” refers to “bit” and the upper-case “B” refers to “byte.” Both are units of data, with 8 bits equal to 1 byte. 1 megabit denotes 1,000,000 bits, and 1 megabyte denotes 1,000,000 bytes.
Mbps stands for Megabits per second. MBps stands Megabytes per second. The two terms are similar, but Mbps is used to specify Internet connection speeds, whereas MBps is used to specify how much of a file is downloaded/uploaded per second.
Lower-case “b” – Mbps indicates Internet speeds
Internet providers promote their Internet speeds in terms of Mbps, the number of bits transferred per second over an Internet connection. Higher Mbps generally means faster Internet, although there are a number of factors that can affect the Internet speeds you experience.
Don’t be confused if you see two different numbers for one Mbps plan. Mbps is typically represented in terms of download speed and upload speed. For example, if an Internet plan advertises Mbps of 45/24 that means you can expect download speeds up to 45 Mbps, and upload speeds up to 24 Mbps.
The higher your Internet connection speed, the faster you can download and upload text, audio and video files.
What Internet speeds do you need for your home?
When shopping for Internet service, it is important to understand Mbps and what speeds are necessary for your current or desired Internet activity. Check out what you can do with different Mbps:
- Basic Internet use: .5 to 3 Mbps
- sending emails
- browsing the web
- downloading texts such as e-books
- Moderate Internet use: 6 to 18 Mbps
- downloading an SD video
- downloading mp3 songs
- streaming short SD videos
- connecting 2-3 devices at once
- Heavy Internet use: 25+ Mbps
- streaming SD or HD shows and movies
- online gaming
- downloading multiple songs at once
- connecting numerous devices at once
Consider what you like to do online, what you want to do online, and how many people/devices will be using the Internet. You may find that choosing the cheapest plan with a lower Mbps may not give you the speeds you want, or you could discover a higher and costlier Mbps gives you more speed than you need. Identifying the best Mbps range for your home is vital to choosing the right plan.
Upper-case “B” – MBps indicates amount of file data transferred, per second
Files sizes are measured in bytes, not bits. Therefore, MBps is used to give users a better idea of how much of a file is transferred per second.
Like the bits to bytes ratio, 8 megabits equals 1 megabyte. So, to determine how many bytes you are capable of downloading or uploading per second, take your Mbps and divide by 8 – that will give you your MBps. Divide your file size by your MBps to determine approximately how long a file will take to download or upload.
Let’s look at an example: You want to download a short SD video and the file size is 10MB. Your Internet connection gives you download speeds up to 16 Mbps. Divide by 8 to get an MBps of 2. Now divide the file size (10 MB) by your MBps (2) to get the amount of time it will take to download the file. 10/2= 5. It will take approximately 5 seconds to download your 10 MB file with an Internet connection of 16 Mbps.
How long will it take to download my file?
Want to know how long it will take to download a particular file? We’ve done the work for you. Check the chart below to see how long, on average, it will take to download certain files with various Mbps. You can also use this online download time calculator.
|Common media files||Average download time (s=seconds, m=minutes, h=hours)|
|File type||Estimated file size||.5 Mbps||3 Mbps||6 Mbps||10 Mbps||18 Mbps||25 Mbps||50 Mbps|
|Webpage||1 MB||16 s||2 s||1 s||< 1 s||< 1 s||< 1 s||< 1 s|
|E-book||3 MB||50 s||8 s||4 s||2 s||1.5 s||1 s||< 1 s|
|mp3 song||5 MB||83 s||13 s||6 s||4 s||2 s||1.5 s||< 1 s|
|5 minute video||20 MB||5.5 m||55 s||27 s||16 s||9 s||6.5 s||3 s|
|1 hr TV show||1 GB||4.5 h||47 m||24 m||14 m||8 m||5 m||2.5 m|
|SD movie||2 GB||9 h||95 m||48 m||28 m||15 m||11 m||5 m|
|1080p movie||12 GB||53 h||9 h||4.5 h||3 h||1.5 h||1 h||34 m|
Knowing Mbps makes for a better online experience
It is important to know and understand your Mbps because it gives you a better idea of what you can feasibly do online. For example, if you have an Internet connection with download speeds up to 3 Mbps, you will not reasonably be able to download a full-length HD movie, which can be files as large as 12 GB (12,000 MB), because it will take many hours to do so.
When shopping for Internet, consider your online activities and select a plan that offers speeds capable of accommodating the things you want to do online. Now that you know the difference between Mbps and MBps, you’re better prepared to select the right Internet plan for your home.