MBps vs Mbps

t’s common to see acronyms used when referring to technology, particularly when discussing the internet. As broadband speeds increase and ISPs promote their services as the best and the fastest, you’ve probably seen the term MBps at least once. Maybe you’ve also seen Mbps. Despite the fact that just one capital letter differentiates the two, there’s actually a big difference between MBps and Mbps. The two cannot be used interchangeable. So, what does each acronym stand for and what does these terms mean when you’re accessing the internet?

What is Mbps?

Mbps stands for “megabits per second.” Mbps refers to upload and download speeds. So, as you have probably guessed, this is a measurement for how many megabits can be uploaded or downloaded per second.

Eight bits is equivalent to one byte. This is important to remember when you are trying to estimate the time that it will take for you to download something such as a song, document, video, or other file. It’s also relevant to the amount of time it would take for you to open a webpage.

What is MBps?

MBps stands for “megabytes per second.” This refers to the amount of data transferred. Put another way, this references the file size. For example, an audio file that is three megabytes could be transferred in three seconds. As previously mentioned, one megabyte is made up of eight bits.

Both Mbps and MBps are important if you want to know how fast you can transfer a file, whether you are uploading or downloading. If, for example, you want to transfer a 2 MB file in just one second, you would need a transfer speed of 16 Mbps. Speeds that fall below 16 Mbps would result in a longer transfer time, while speeds that exceed 16Mbps would result in a shorter download or upload time. Remember, eight bits create a byte. The two are not equivalent or interchangeable.

Mbps vs. MBps and Your ISP

Some people get confused when they see a flyer or TV advertisement from ISPs that promote their speeds. This is when knowing the difference between Mbps and MBps can really come in handy, ensuring that you make the right choice when it comes to selecting your internet provider.

If you see an advertisement for 20 Mbps and 20 MBps, remember – these are not the same! You will not be able to upload or download a 20 MB file in one second if the speed you’re promised is 20 Mbps. The actual transfer speed would be 2.5 seconds, which more than doubles the time you originally expected. Without this understanding, it’s entirely possible that you purchase an internet service plan that’s much slower than expected.

It’s also important to note that a variety of factors may impact your internet speed. Maybe your hardware is outdated, there could be a technical issue, and other factors come into play when it comes to the speed of your internet. You will not typically have the same speed all of the time, which is why you’ll usually see “speeds up to…” in fine print on ISP advertisements.

Calculating the Speed of Transfer for Your Files

This is an important step if you upload and download lots of files, and particularly if you’re signing up for high-speed internet service for the first time or simply shopping around for improved service. Knowing common file sizes and understanding Mbps and MBps will ensure that you’re making the right purchase for your internet service. The chart below outlines some common file sizes, as well as popular speeds to give you an idea of what type of service best fits your needs.

File Type File Size 3 Mbps 10 Mbps 25 Mbps 50 Mbps
Webpage 1 MB 3 seconds <1 second <1 second <1 second
MP3 Audio 5 MB 13 seconds 4 seconds 1.5 seconds <1 second
5 minute video 20 MB 53 seconds 16 seconds 6.5 seconds 3 seconds
1 hour video 1 GB 44 minutes 14 minutes 5 minutes 2.5 minutes
1080p HD Movie 12 GB 9 hours 2.5 hours 1 hour 32 minutes

While this chart is just a guideline, it provides a good idea of what to expect from your internet service. As you can see, someone who downloads lots of videos and movies will be dissatisfied with slower internet service, while someone who simply browses the web on occasion may be perfectly fine with an inexpensive but slower plan.

What Type of Internet Offers the Fastest Speeds?

If you live in an urban area, you’ll likely have more choices when it comes to the type of internet you have available, as well as the providers. With so many different choices, it may be hard to make a decision – especially when providers offer new customer packages at very competitive prices.

If you have your choice of internet, there are a few things to take into consideration. Satellite internet is typically the slowest, with top speeds averaging around 2 Mbps. If you’re a light internet user, don’t upload or download large files, or live in a rural area, this may be the right choice for you. However, any user who expects to get blazing fast speeds will find satellite internet to be quite disappointing.

DSL is another option, and this one tends to be on the affordable side, depending on the provider. However, it is also one of the slowest, with top speeds usually not exceeding 9 Mbps. However, this could be a great choice for someone who isn’t interested in downloading or uploading videos or other large files.

Cable is a very popular choice, and it has speeds typically ranging between 20 and 38 Mbps. This is a common choice for many internet users, as these packages offer high speeds sufficient for regular use, while also typically being discounted when bundled with cable TV, home phone service, and other services.

Finally, fiber provides the fastest internet speeds and is recommended for anyone who wants blazing fast uploads and downloads of even the largest files. Typically, fiber is the most expensive but monthly pricing varies by provider.

Final Thoughts

When selecting internet service for the first time or upgrading your existing service, remember the difference between Mbps and MBps. Take into consideration what you’ll be using the internet for and calculate the speeds that you should purchase to best fit your needs. When all else fails, there are also calculators found online through a quick web search that will help you best calculate what speeds are best for you. With this information, you’ll be able to find the right service for your home or business.


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