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Bandwidth vs Speed

When it comes to Internet connection today, Bandwidth and Speed are being used interchangeably although they mean different things. Speed is generally used by consumers to refer to how fast they can download files and upload files. Broadband Internet packages are sold based on their bandwidth, or the size of the "Internet pipe" that is allocated to each user. This number refers to the capacity of the "last mile" connection that connects your home to the nearest aggregation point. In other words, it is the maximum throughput that the user can get on his broadband service.

Does higher bandwidth give you faster speed?

BB speedtest

Imagine that you're driving on a road with 4 lanes in a car that can go at a maximum of 300km/hr. No matter the amount of lanes on the road, your car can only go at a maximum of 300km/hr and no faster. However, this same road with four lanes comes in handy when your family members having their own cars share the same road and reach the same destination at a shorter time as opposed to having a single lane road where they will have to queue up. Likewise for our broadband service, with a higher bandwidth you can actually do more at the same time or share the connection with your family members using a bigger pipe.

In general, getting a broadband service with higher bandwidth will often mean better surfing speeds as you are increasing the size of your pipe. But if the limitation is at the end device, then having a higher bandwidth does not increase your surfing speed. By the same analogy, if you are sharing your broadband connection among multiple users in your home, it is more important to get a connection with a higher bandwidth to ensure each individual user gets enough bandwidth for their needs.

Local bandwidth, international bandwidth, download bandwidth and upload bandwidth.

BB speedtest2

International bandwidth refers to the max bandwidth that is allocated to each subscriber connecting from StarHub’s network to the Internet outside of Singapore at point A in Diagram 1.

In general, RSPs like StarHub do not have control over how other content provider connects to the Internet to provide their service to our subscribers. The local speed to content provider is usually good because the distance within Singapore is short and latency is low. For example, if you are subscribed to a 100Mbps service bandwidth, you should be able to attain at least 60Mbps throughput within Singapore assuming the content provider does not have subscriber tiering and their bandwidth to the Internet is not congested.

However, when it comes to International bandwidth, the equation gets more complex as distance affects the performance of the international connection. In reality, the distance from Singapore to Hong Kong, China, United States of America and Europe varies and for bigger countries like China, United States of America and Europe, the distance between states and provinces also varies. Thus, the throughput to different international location varies accordingly. This is why when subscribers performs speedtests to different countries, they usually get different results.

Read more under the “How it works?” tab.

Download bandwidth refers to the max bandwidth allocated from Internet to end user devices.

Upload bandwidth refers to the max bandwidth allocated from end user devices to the Internet.

In the consumer world, the technology deployed take into consideration of user’s needs, cost and technology constraint. End users usually download content from the Internet more than upload content. Thus, RSP employs asymmetrical bandwidth where download is usually higher then upload. Having said this, this download and upload bandwidth will also be used in the context of local and International bandwidth.