Internet Speed: 8 Meg Vs. 1 Mbps
By Eoghan McCloskey
Internet service providers, in most cases, price their Internet service packages on a sliding scale according to the maximum connection speeds that that package can offer. The choice of which Internet speed package to purchase is a personal one, but is typically based on both the Internet needs of everyone in the home and the budget available to purchase Internet service. Comparing two different speed packages is a useful way to illustrate the importance of choosing the right one for your needs and budget.
Internet Speed Units
Internet speeds are usually expressed in terms of maximum data transmission per second. The most commonly used units for expressing data transmission in this context are megabits, equal to 1000 kilobits and 1,000,000 bits; megabits are sometimes abbreviated as "megs." The megabit is not to be confused with the megabyte, which is a different unit altogether. For instance, if an Internet service provider promises 12 megabits per second, you would be capable of downloading up to 12 megabits of data every second, allowing for some minor variations due to network traffic and other individual factors.
By way of comparison, a 1 megabit per second connection is technically slower than an 8 megabit per second connection, though the 1 megabit connection is much less expensive. Internet speeds always vary depending on a near-limitless set of factors, including the type of network over which the Internet service is delivered, overall network traffic, the state of your computer and your home networking equipment (routers, switches), the speed of the server to which you are connecting, and many others.
Choosing a Speed
It is sometimes difficult to approximate your own Internet usage in terms of megabits per second, so in most cases, customers have to rely on generalized estimations of Internet use. For someone who only uses the Internet to check email, read the news and other bandwidth-light uses, one megabit per second will likely be more than enough. More bandwidth-heavy Internet activities such as online gaming, frequent use of flash-based websites such as YouTube, Internet hosting and the like could require an 8 megabits per second or faster connection.
The decision of which Internet speed package to purchase is a personal and subjective one. It may be tempting to purchase a faster Internet speed package just to guarantee a consistent Internet experience, but purchasing extra, unneeded bandwidth can be a waste of money if a less expensive, slower-speed package can serve your needs consistently. Sales representatives at Internet service providers are usually prepared to assist you in choosing the right speed package based on your lifestyle.
Eoghan McCloskey is a technical support representative and part-time musician who holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and political science from Texas State University. While at Texas State, McCloskey worked as a writing tutor at the Texas State Writing Center, proofreading and editing everything from freshman book reports to graduate theses.