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Internet bandwidth is a term that is used in computer science to describe the size of an internet connection and how much data, often measured in bits, can pass through it. It is frequently expressed in a bit rate per measure, such as a certain amount of kilobits per second. The size depends on the technology used to create the connection to the net and varies between devices.
When bandwidth is indicated somewhere, it typically implies the maximum transfer speed that the connection is able to handle. This includes the simultaneous download and upload of data, meaning the indicated speed is not necessarily the speed at which data will be downloaded only. Some technologies have a faster download speed than upload speed, while others are split equally.
Different types of files require different amounts of data to be transferred. For example, small files, such as text documents or medium-sized pictures, use less bandwidth and can be easily downloaded on a slower connection. Larger files, such as video clips or high quality music, store a lot more data and therefore use a lot more bandwidth to download.
In the past, dial-up access was the predominant way to connect online. Dial-up required the use of a dedicated telephone line and had a very low bit rate, downloading data at a very slow pace. The evolution of technology has allowed technologies such as broadband to become more accessible to the public, allowing for connections with much faster downloading speeds.
Broadband connections are generally more expensive than slower connections. Since the existing telecommunications infrastructure can only hand so much data transfer at a time, users with high-speed connections put more pressure on the service. The rate at which internet access has spread also means there are many more people now who are connected at the same time.
Certain countries have laws in place that limit internet service providers on the amount of bandwidth they are allowed to provide users with. This ensures that access is spread evenly across networks and that users with high-speed access do not throttle the service, negatively affecting the experience of others.
Technological advancements and the upgrading of infrastructure continue to give more users access to faster services. For example, fiber-optic cables grant more data transfer availability allows the grid to handle a larger number of simultaneous connections. However, these services are still limited by physical constraints, such as the manufacturing and placement of the cables.
Stable access and a fast connection have become vital to the economy as more and more services and products are based online. Businesses are also moving their communications away from traditional services such as landline telephones and fax machines. Instead, they are relying on the internet to conduct business through email, online telephony, and video conferencing.
Finding a solution to the problem of limited internet bandwidth is high on the agenda of telecommunications companies. As the capacity to handle more users grows, so does the demand, which will seem to be the trend for the foreseeable future.
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