A Quick Beginner’s Guide to Internet Speed Jargon

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Portable communication has come a long way. Modern networks now can provide high-speed internet, but they rely on the positioning and number of cell sites. That is the reason why signal coverage may differ in quality between locations. You need to be as close to a tower as you can if you want optimal signal strength.

Another way to get on the world wide web is via portable satellite internet. Unlike the mobile networks of today, this option has greater coverage. You are receiving signals that are being beamed down to you from beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. These days, the speeds have become comparable to their land-based counterparts. So if you plan to go to a remote location and not worry about online access, get satellite internet.

When it comes to internet speed, there are some terms that you need to know to understand how it works. Here are the main ones that should give you a better grasp of the topic.

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Most of the internet providers advertise their plans by focusing on the download speed. That gives an idea of what your browsing experience would be, but it does not paint the whole picture. You will get the benefits of this when you are streaming media content or directly downloading large files off of a website.

The other thing you need to know is latency. The internet and road lanes are often the subjects of analogies, which is why the term information superhighway was coined. Sticking to this idea, think about latency as a vehicle that traverses the internet lanes. There would be two lanes that represent downloads and uploads. The speed in which your car reaches its destination coming from your computer would dictate how latent your connection is. The faster it goes, the lower the latency, which equates to a smoother experience.


Downloading is when you copy or receive data from the internet to your computer. Expanding on the car analogy, imagine that the vehicle’s trunk carries data packets. Bringing those packets from a specific website over to your computer constitutes the concept of the download speed.

You can look at it from another angle by making a comparison. Think of two different vehicles that represent two separate connections. The first one is a sports car that has a boot that can only carry about 5 MB worth of data but can zip by at high speed. The second one is a van that runs slower but can give about 20 MB. The sports car represents the focus on having low latency over data capacity. It is more suited for applications that require real-time reactions like online gaming. It mostly streams input data, which does not take up much space.

The van represents a focus on bandwidth over latency. It might take slower to travel back and forth between the data source and your computer, but you will be getting 20 MB or four times more data on each trip. It is excellent for streaming media, as you can buffer up larger amounts of data as it is played. To sum it up, it is best to view downloading in a holistic sense by considering both latency and bandwidth.


Upload is exactly like download; it just goes the other direction. But you may notice that this is not advertised like the download speed on the consumer side of things. The reason may be because most connections are of the shared type. This means that it has an asynchronous connection. That is where a download speed may be advertised at 50 Mbps and the download speed would be a small fraction of that.

The good news is that dedicated fiber optic connections are available now, even for residential homes. Those offer a synchronous connection, so the download and upload rates are the same. If you are interested, ask if your provider can give you a fiber-to-the-home connection.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to the internet, so you have to do the nitty-gritty if you want to get the best plan for you. You can also consult your neighbors as to how their experiences are with their current providers. So whether they are on a shared connection, you will most likely get the same experience if you decide to switch or get a new plan.

Kelly Passarelly
Kelly Passarelly is a creative thinker who loves writing and working in a challenging environment.

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