How to: Understanding bandwidth

When first ordering internet service, most people are excited about the speed boost they’re going to experience. They dream about spending less time waiting on downloads or video buffering.

That excitement can turn to frustration, however, when they continue to experience slow downloads and buffering.

What’s up with that?!

The difference between speed and bandwidth

Many people today use the words speed and bandwidth interchangeably. And while they are closely related, understanding the difference can help you better understand how your home network works. (And how to fix it!)

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Speed is how fast the data moves. Think of this as what arrives to your home. For example, if you choose a plan with 100Mbps, it means you can move 100 megabits of data per second.
  • Bandwidth is how much data can be downloaded or uploaded. Think of this as what is available to distribute to different devices within your home. That same 100 megabits of data per second is available to be shared by all devices connected to your network.

(And here’s an important note: With a fiber connection, bandwidth is dedicated to your home. With other connections such as cable, bandwidth can also be shared among neighboring homes or apartments. That means the number of devices accessing the connection can create even more demands on available bandwidth – and quickly stress your connection.)

Adding it up:

There are three important factors to consider when assessing your bandwidth needs:

  1. The number of devices you have connected to your home network
  2. Your bandwidth requirements
  3. How many of the connected devices use the internet simultaneously

If you consider the average household in the US has 22 connected devices and the growing popularity of 4K streaming, graphics-heavy gaming, work-from-home video conferencing and large file transfers, it can add up fast – especially if you’re sharing a cable connection with your neighbors (a reason you may be experiencing buffering or lag during peak usage times in the evening).

Of course, other factors can influence internet performance too, including the quality and placement of your router, distance from the device in use, and items in your home such as furniture, microwave ovens, etc. (Sometimes, the construction materials of your home can cause some interference.)

There’s a lot to consider when evaluating bandwidth needs and we’d love to help. Please connect with us through our contact page or call us at 866-541-5000 if you have any questions about your internet service.

Did you know?

Our customer portal is now available! Simply click the My Account link at the top of any page on www.blackfoot.com.

What’s the different between the Blackfoot customer portal and our e-bill site?

  • The Blackfoot customer portal provides you the benefit of managing your trouble tickets, service orders or bookings with Blackfoot Communications.
  • Our e-bill site provides you the ability to view and pay your bill, and look up previous bills.