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Understanding Internet Speeds

What do All the Numbers Mean?

It can be tricky to decipher all the numbers and terms used when describing internet speed options. Do you need 100 Mbps? 500 Mbps? What about gigabit internet? Understanding these definitions and then learning how to apply that understanding to choosing the right speed for your household is important.

What do internet speeds mean?

Computers work using units of data called bits or binary digits. Computers can process multiple bits of information at a time.

A common rate at which computers can transfer or process information is called megabits per second or mbps. When you see an Internet speed such as 100mbps* this literally means that 100 million bits of data are being transferred from one machine to another in a single second. Let’s break it down a little further:

1 megabit 1 gigabit
= 1,000,000 bits of information = 1,000 mbps
= 1 million bits of data = 1 billion bits of data
100 mbps (megabits per second) 1gbps (gigabits per second)
= 100 million bits of data are transferred per second = 1 billion bits of data are transferred per second
1 megabit
= 1,000,000 bits of information
1 gigabit
= 1,000 mbps
1 megabit
= 1 million bits of data
1 gigabit
= 1 billion bits of data
1 megabit
100 mbps (megabits per second)
1 gigabit
1gbps (gigabits per second)
1 megabit
= 100 million bits of data are transferred per second
1 gigabit
= 1 billion bits of data are transferred per second

*Experienced speeds may vary. For complete details click here.

How does mbps or gbps work?

How do you know how many bits of information are in a common file – such as an iTunes song or a YouTube video or even a Netflix episode of your favorite show?

Say, for example, you wanted to stream a 2 hr HD film. The typical movie file size is 2 gigabits of data and if you had a 50mbps* Internet connect, you could download that movie in 40 minutes. The faster your Internet connection, the faster you can download information to the device or machine you are using.

Data or information type Typical size of that information
2-hr HD movie 2 gigabits of data
200 iTunes songs 1 gigabit of data
Data or information type
2-hr HD movie
Typical size of that information
2 gigabits of data
Data or information type
200 iTunes songs
Typical size of that information
1 gigabit of data

*Internet download speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Observed speeds may vary based on device connection & other factors outside of Astound’s control. Gig Internet offers speeds up to 940 Mbps and certain equipment may be required. All advertised speeds are up to the stated speeds and are not guaranteed; speed may vary due to conditions outside of network control, including customer location, sites accessed, number of devices connected, customer usage, customer equipment and computer configuration, the level of overall traffic, and customer compliance with Astound usage policies set forth in the acceptable usage policy. See for why speeds may vary. Our FCC Network Management Disclosure makes available information regarding our network management practices and the performance and commercial terms of our Internet access services to enable you to make informed choices regarding the purchase and use of our services, in accordance with Part 8 of the Rules of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Modem required for internet service. We substantiate that the cable modem equipment provided, and the configuration of such cable modem, meets the broadband speeds advertised when attached to a wired connection based on SamKnows testing procedures.

Not all services, speeds, packages, equipment, channels, tiers, pricing, streaming services, product offerings and product features are available in all areas. Offers valid only for new residential customers or previous customers with account in good standing who have not had our service within the last 60 days. All names, logos, images and service marks are property of their respective owners. Other restrictions may apply.