What is a Mb? Why do I need more of them?


So you've had a look at our plans and pricing and now you're wondering what the difference between them all is.

Why so many plans?

Why didn't we have this choice with ADSL?

The reason we have so many choices is because of the technology we use. Because of this modern technology we are able to offer much higher speeds than ADSL so we can have different speed plans for different customers. For example, if you have multiple devices in your house or you have a specific need for more bandwidth, we can accommodate those needs.

But what is a Mb and why do I need more of them?

To explain this I first need to explain what data is and how it is sent over the internet. Let's use a photo as an example. Say you're about to devour an amazing meal at your favourite cafe, before you do that though, you need to post a pic of it to Instagram.



There is a lot of data contained within a photo so to send it, it needs to be broken down into small pieces. All that data is represented by bits. Each bit contains information about the photo and when you put all the bits together, you will have a complete photo. An Instagram photo is around 5 Mega bytes (MB) which is different to mega bits (Mb).

So your 5MB Instagram meal is broken down into small pieces that are called packets. Each packet contains a small amount of data about the image as well as some data about the packet itself. Think of it like sending a letter in the post. You cut a large photo into small pieces and place it into an envelope. Then you write on the envelope where you want that piece sent and all the information required at the other end to put it all back together in the correct order.

Now all these packets aren't sent at once in one big blast because there isn't enough available bandwidth to do that. Also if there was a problem along the way it would be inefficient to send all the data and then find out there was a problem so you have to do it again. To avoid this we use a process called windowing. This is a process where one packet is sent from device A to device B. Device A then waits to receive a response from device B to say that it received the packet. Device A then sends two packets and awaits confirmation that device B received the packets and that they arrived in the right order. This process continues doubling the amount of packets that are sent each time until the bandwidth limit is reached or a packet is lost and then the process starts all over again.

If you think about bandwidth as how many packets can be sent at once, you start to see why more bandwidth is considered to be a faster internet connection. If we go back to our envelope in the mail scenario, bandwidth could be represented as the size of the mail man's bag he carries the envelope in. He can only carry so much at any given time.



So why is data is represented as MB but our internet bandwidth is measured in Mb when bandwidth is essentially how much data we can send at one time?

Well, the answer to this is quite simple really. One Byte (B) is equal to 8 bits (b) which means that if you have an internet connection of say 50Mbps you have a connection of 6.25MBps (50/8=6.25). So in the world of marketing, which do you think sounds like the easier one to sell? Yes, that's right. The only reason we talk about internet speed in Mbps and not MBps is that it sounds better.

So how long will it take for my meal to be uploaded to Instagram?

There are many factors involved that actually determine the amount of time it will take but if we break it down to a pure mathematical equation, we can get some idea of how long. So your pic of your meal is 5MB in size which works out as 40Mb. So if you are using an ADSL connection then you may (if you're lucky) be getting an upload speed of around 1Mbps. Therefore it will take 40 seconds to upload your photo (40Mb x 1Mbps = 40 seconds).

So when you're looking at all our different plans and you're wondering which one will suit you, have a think about what you use the internet for. Do you send and receive large files? If so is it very often and would having to wait for them to download be detrimental? Do you stream video content? How many people will be doing these things at once in your house or workplace? If you are a business, how much do you pay your employees to sit around and wait for files to upload and download? If it is a large number then paying $20-$50 extra a month on your internet may save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.


If all this is a bit too much for you just think back to the postman scenario and if you have a lot of people trying to send letters at once and your postman only has a small bag, perhaps you need to pay him to carry a bigger bag?