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Everything Small Business Owners Need to Know About Internet Speed

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As any small business owner knows, there are countless technological and logistical challenges involved in running your own business. Reliable and fast internet can help make these things easier.

Let’s break down everything you need to know about internet speed so that you can focus on what really matters: managing your business.

The basics: throughput and bandwidth

Throughput measures the actual speed data travels on a network, whereas bandwidth is the theoretical measure of the speed of data. Having a good sense of both of these numbers will help you understand how well your network is performing.

Faster internet means greater productivity. In an increasingly virtual world where employees are dependent on remote collaboration, reliable and fast internet allows for easy use of file-sharing technology, remote work communications platforms, and a seamless way to send large files back and forth.

For retail businesses, functions like processing payments, running loyalty programs, and managing inventory all happen online. You may have moved tasks such as building business plans, client outreach, tracking marketing KPIs, and accounting online. This is all to say that fast and dependable internet isn’t just an easier way to run a business, it’s critical to a company’s overall success.

What are Mbps and Gbps?

Internet speed, or throughput, is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and gigabits per second (Gbps). This is like miles per hour.

Your internet service provider offers speeds in Mbps and Gbps. The speeds are the rate at which data travels between your internet connection and your computer. You’ll experience these speeds in downloads and uploads.

Download and upload speeds are critical for business owners. Download speed refers to how quickly you can receive data from the internet to your computer, while upload speed is the reverse, how quickly you can send digital data from your computer to the internet.

One megabit is the equivalent of one million bits. A bit is the smallest unit of measure in data. If you have a 50 Mbps download speed, that means 50 megabits of data can travel to your computer in a second. The higher your Mbps download speed, the faster the data will get to you.

What are MBps and GBps?

The term to measure the size of the file you’re downloading or uploading is very similar megabits and gigabits, the terms that measure speed.

The size of the files you receive (download) or send (upload) through your internet connection are measured in megabytes per second (MBps) and gigabytes per second (GBps). The larger the files you are sending or receiving, the greater amount of time it will take to complete.

Know what you’ll do online to know the Mbps you’ll need

When you’re considering how much speed (Mbps/Gbps) you’ll need, consider the file sizes (MBps/GBps) you will need to send and receive. The greater your file sizes, the more speed you will need to make the transmission as smooth and fast as possible.

No matter your business—e-commerce, hospitality, finance, consultancy—download and upload speed will undoubtedly come into play. If you or your employees are downloading many large files, uploading documents with many images, or are participating in regular virtual meetings (which take both upload and download bandwidth), you’ll need a higher internet speed. Video conferencing, cloud computing, and streaming services may all be negatively impacted by insufficient download and upload speeds.

Remember also that the larger the number of employees you have, the faster download and upload speeds you will need. Simply put, more employees means more people downloading and uploading data, which requires more speed.

Just remember this:

Speed is measured in Mbps (megabits) and Gbps (gigabits)

Size is measured in MBps (megabytes) and GBps (gigabytes)

To get specific about your bits and bytes, check out these instant calculators for downloads and uploads.

Can you go fiber-fast?

See what internet speeds are available in your area.

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