Megabits and megabytes explained

Drew answers John’s question about the difference between megabits and megabytes.

Megabits and megabytes explained

Q. I hear people in the media talking about 100 megabit per second download speeds. Does this mean I can download 100 megabytes per second?
Thanks, John

A. Hi John! The YOURLifeChoices office was also perplexed by this one for a short while. It turns out that megabits and megabytes are two entirely different things, despite their similar names. A speed of 100 megabits, whilst sounding incredibly impressive, will net you a maximum download speed of 12.5 megabytes a second.





    COMMENTS

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    Graeme
    15th Apr 2014
    12:20pm
    A byte contains 8 bits, a bit is either a 1 or a 0. With control information that also needs to be sent, and a few other things a practical maximum is 1/10 of the Mb/s.
    Bytes are represented with a capital B, and bits are represented with a Lower case b
    MBps = Mega Bytes per second
    Mbps = Mega bits per second
    MarLin
    15th Apr 2014
    3:05pm
    I always thought it was as simple as bytes being capacity and bits being speed. Is that not the case?
    RichF
    15th Apr 2014
    3:55pm
    At the risk of being considered a pedant, may I point out that in communications (Radio/TV etc) as well as in computer technology, it is usual to use the solidus '/' to denote frequencies and rates. Thus MB/s for megabytes per second and Mb/s for megabits per second. Note also that a 'second' being a primary unit under the conventions is ALWAYS a lower case character.
    Graeme
    15th Apr 2014
    7:13pm
    Whilst I will agree with communications, in computers both are acceptable, unless Belkin (and many others) don't know what there doing. Below is a copy from my router
    Mode: G.992.3 (ADSL2)
    Upload: 819 Kbps.
    Download: 5005 Kbps.
    MarLin
    15th Apr 2014
    7:43pm
    I worked in telecommunications for 23+ years (OTC then Telstra) and our engineers started the trend of using a 'p' instead of '/' after more than a decade of the technicians using '/'. But I'm sure I also remember that giga and mega were shown with capital letters (G, M) while kilo took a small k, eg kbps. Then again, my memory's not what it used to be - so maybe it's time to consult the "digital communications style manual" if such a thing exists (if not, maybe someone would like to write one...)!
    RichF
    18th Apr 2014
    4:18pm
    Sorry Graeme, but I have to tell you that Belkin and many others do NOT know what they are doing, as shown by that quote ... It is NOT 819 bps. Never in a million years is that K correct. What they have written there is 819 kelvins ................ISO is quite strict. Upper case is reserved for units named for famous scientists such as Watt . so we have kW for kilowatt. Note that when the name is used in full it does NOT take upper case so that a single watt is correct. You may think this is all daft but it was a carefully thought out system and has been in use in every science for a long long time and the sooner the newbies of the computer world join in the better it will be for everyone..
    Bill
    24th Apr 2014
    9:50am
    This discussion of units is good and leads onto one of my concerns. The misuse of scientific units is very common these days. When I was studying it was always said that it was inappropriate to place an "s" after a unit eg 240 volt not 240 volts. It seems that the plural form is used just about everywhere these days including many text books. I am tempted to give in on such a trivial matter but at this stage I will keep pushing.


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