Megabits, data, and bandwidth, oh my! First of all, we apologize for that awful attempt at a Wizard Of Oz reference. Secondly, the point we’re trying to make is that understanding everything that comes in your ZIRKEL Wireless internet package can be a little bit scary and confusing. Today, we want to take a couple of minutes to explain what all of this lingo means.

To get us started, we’ll start with the foundation of our packages: megabits per second (Mbps). A megabit is a measure of electronic data or information, and is different from a megabyte (abbreviated with two capital letters, MB). While not set in stone, in most cases Mb is used to describe internet speed, while MB is used for an actual file or document size.

You’ll notice that our service packages range from 1.5 Mbps to 30 Mbps. This is your “internet speed” – but not in the way you may think. We’ve all experienced “slow internet,” where you have a bad connection and it takes a while for, say, a video to load. Megabits per second has nothing to do with how strong your internet connection is. Rather, it refers to how much bandwidth (data) can be transferred to you per second.

How Does Internet Speed Work?

You may have heard something like, “Downloading a movie uses a lot of bandwidth.” As far as your internet connection goes, bandwidth is the capacity of an internet connection and goes hand-in-hand with your internet speed. Imagine that bandwidth is like an airport. Let’s say that 1 Mbps of bandwidth is equivalent to an airport with 1 runway. If you are trying to download a file that is 5Mb in size, and assuming that each Mb is one airplane, it would take 5 seconds for all of the planes to takeoff. (For those of you who have been stuck on a tarmac for any length of time, please suspend your disbelief that a plane can take off in one second.)

Now let’s say that the airport underwent an expansion and has five runways. That same file would now only take one second to download – as five planes can take off at the same time. The more bandwidth you have, the more megabits of data that can be transferred each second. If there is too much data and not enough bandwidth, your airport gets too busy and flights are delayed. Make sense?

Download Speed Versus Upload Speed

All of our internet packages have two speeds listed. One speed is for downloading, and one is for uploading. This doesn’t necessarily mean downloading an actual file or song from the internet to your computer. Rather, it means consuming content – watching videos, streaming music, and browsing Facebook all use downloading speed. Download speed is always higher than upload speed because most users need more bandwidth for downloading.

How Much Data Am I Using?

Different activities use different amounts of bandwidth per second. Below, we have listed estimations for how many Mbps common internet activities use.

Streaming high-definition video from Netflix: 5 Mbps

Having a video call over Skype: .3 Mbps

Scrolling through Twitter: .03 Mbps

Streaming music from the internet: 2 Mbps

Watching Youtube videos: 4.5 Mbps

Multiplayer gaming: 12 Mbps

When choosing an internet service plan that is right for you, be sure to take into account all of the data that is being used in your house. For example, if Dad is streaming a movie on Netflix in the living room, Mom is having a video call with her sister in the kitchen, and two teens are using the internet for intense online gaming with friends, it all adds up. While a 12 Mbps might be enough speed for two people to stream Netflix, it might not be enough if you also have someone watching Youtube videos at the same time.

Which ZIRKEL Wireless Internet Package Is Right For Me?

If this is all confusing and you’re not quite sure which internet package is right for you, don’t worry. Give us a call or let one of our service technicians know what you use your internet for, and they will help you determine which internet package is right for you and your family. You can always adjust your package down the road if you need more or less Mbps.

Contact ZIRKEL Wireless today and start experiencing a high speed internet connection in Northwest Colorado. As a leading internet provider for rural Colorado residents, we make it a priority to bring quality, reliable internet to Steamboat Springs and surrounding areas. Contact us today!