What Does “Mbps” Mean?

When shopping for Internet services, buying a router, or measuring your Internet speeds, chances are you’ve seen the term “Mbps” in commercials and packaging. For those unfamiliar with the term, it stands for “megabits per second,” and, as the name implies, the metric is the industry standard for determining network performance. It’s vital to note that megabits are very different from megabytes. A megabit is equal to 0.125 megabytes — which means that when an Internet service provider advertises speeds of 15 Mbps, your download speeds will be 1.875 megabytes per second.

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The History of the Term

The term “bit” comes from a shortened version of “binary digit,” which is the format of how computer data is stored. While “Mbps” is a relatively abstract term for most computer users, the reason bits are used instead of bytes to measure Internet speed is that historically, data has always been measured in bits as it travels over wires. Even in the pre-Internet days, the bit was the industry standard for speed metrics, and that term has continued to be used to this day. On the other hand, hard drives have always had their storage measured in bytes of data.

The Importance of a Responsive Internet Speed Test

When measuring your Internet speeds, you need to make sure you’re using a responsive Internet speed test because it ensures you have uniform test results across devices, regardless of whether you are on a mobile or desktop device. By measuring your Internet speeds this way, you can determine if your Internet provider is delivering the speeds you’re paying for.

Another use of speed tests is to ensure your network can handle streaming content from services such as Hulu Plus or Netflix. Even with a high-speed Internet connection, you can experience performance issues from having too many devices on your network.