EOFY sale! High-speed Fixed Wireless available from $69 per month! Opticomm and nbn® discounts also available.

2nd June 2023

What is bandwidth?

Written by Team Pentanet

2nd June 2023


Bandwidth is a term that is frequently misunderstood, and it's no wonder considering the multitude of internet terminology that exists, many of which refer to similar concepts. As always, we're here to provide you with clear explanations and cut through the confusion. Let's go!

Bandwidth is not the same as speed

Although bandwidth and speed are often advertised alongside each other, and sometimes even used interchangeably, there is a critical difference between the terms.

Bandwidth: the maximum data capacity of your network connection

Speed: the rate at which data is moving through that connection. 

Most telcos advertise typical evening speeds alongside bandwidth, clearly displaying your maximum and the average you’ll receive. Your speed cannot surpass your bandwidth, but it should remain around this limit most hours of the day. 

For even more clarity, imagine your bandwidth is a pipe with water running through it, while your speeds are the rate at which water flows through that pipe. A bigger pipe allows more water to flow through when the pressure is increased (ie. when you blast the shower, or start a large download!), but the amount of water that flows through can never exceed the capacity of the pipe. 

 Make sense?

Why bandwidth matters

Aside from just being the limit on speed, bandwidth is also the limit on data that can pass through your network at any one time. So, if you have a game downloading, someone streaming Netflix, someone FaceTiming, someone playing games online, and someone watching YouTube you’ll probably be rapidly approaching your bandwidth’s data capacity.  

Each of those activities has a bandwidth requirement that must fit into your maximum. If you exceed the maximum, the quality of all network applications will decrease, as the bandwidth allotted to each is capped to stay within your bandwidth limit. This means you might see your YouTube video or Netflix stream reduce in quality, experience lag in a game, or see a download slow to a crawl.

When helping you find the plan best suited to your needs, we take into consideration your desired speeds and the number of devices active on your home network  at any one time. So, with a Pentanet plan, you shouldn't need to worry about your bandwidth limits.

How to improve your bandwidth

If you’re not using your provider’s recommended router, or if you’ve been on a plan for a long time and your router’s starting to get a bit long in the tooth, this can affect your bandwidth. If you consistently see that your speeds never encroach upon the advertised bandwidth of your plan, you might want to investigate if upgrading your router could have a positive impact here.

If you are receiving the speeds you would expect from your plan’s bandwidth capacity, but you’re still seeing buffering or lag, it might be time to upgrade to a higher-tier plan. Whether you’re on Fixed Wireless, nbn™, or Opticomm, we’ll have the plan to suit your needs, so don’t be afraid to get in touch to discuss your upgrade options today.

If you’d like to see what unlocked speeds really look like, check if neXus is available in your area! Pentanet’s neXus offers hell fast speeds, meaning it always supplies the best speeds possible.