Megabits per second (Mbps) refers to data transfer speeds measured in megabits (Mb). This term is commonly used in communications and data technology to demonstrate the speed at which a transfer occurs. A megabit is just over a million bits, so “Mbps” indicates the transfer of a million bits of data every second. Data can be moved even faster than that, measured in terms like gigabits per second (Gbps).
Network Interface Card (NIC), which is one of the pieces of hardware rated in terms of data transfer rates.
Understanding the Megabit
A bit is a single unit of data, expressed as “0” or “1” in binary code. An eight-bit string is equal to one byte. Any formed character, such as a letter of the alphabet, a number, or a punctuation mark, requires eight binary bits to describe it. For example:
Mbps is the unit that defines the transfer speed of a wireless network device.
A = 01000001 B = 01000010 a = 01100001 b = 01100010 6 = 00110110 7 = 00110111 ! = 00100001 @ = 01000000
In fact, a megabit has two different values, depending on the context of the term. When used to describe data storage, one megabit (Mb) is the equivalent of 2 20 or 1,048,576 bits. However, when used to describe data transfer rates, one Mb is equivalent to 1,000,000 bits. So 1 Mbps equals 1,000,000 bits per second, not 1,048,576.
Distinction between Megabits and Megabytes
In addition to confusion over the value of a megabit, some people may also confuse megabit (Mb) and mega byte (MB). As noted earlier, a byte (B) is made up of 8 bits (b). The distinction between megabytes in data storage and transfer contexts is the same as megabits and can lead to additional confusion. However, 1 megabyte per second (MBps) is equal to 8 Mbps (megabits per second). It is important to note that the capital “B” is what distinguishes between megabits per second (Mbps) and megabytes per second (MBps).
Use in networks
Network technologies are commonly measured in terms of megabits per second. This includes telephone line networks, wireless communications, and commercial or public networks such as the Internet. Companies selling high-speed services often advertise data transfer speeds in terms of Mbps, although some also use 1,000 bits or kilobits per second (kbps). Wireless routers and network interface cards (NICs) are among the most commonly evaluated and advertised hardware devices in terms of data transfer rates.
When purchasing equipment, customers must properly compare speeds between components to ensure they get the best rates possible. It’s important to buy components that support equal speeds, as the slowest component will often determine the speed of the connection. For example, if a wireless router supports speeds of up to 54 Mbps, upgrading to a NIC that supports up to 108 Mbps will make little difference without upgrading the router as well. The higher speed of the card can get data faster from the router to the computer, but the router itself can only transfer data at half that speed.
As communications technology continues to advance, the speed of data transfers also increases. In much the same way that memory has moved from megabytes to gigabytes, data rates are also changing from megabits to gigabits. A gigabit is one billion bits or 1,000 megabits.
An ADSL modem can deliver Internet speeds of up to 3 mbps.