Bandwidth, how Internet service providers (ISPs) sell you Internet, is the size of your “Internet pipe”.
Bandwidth describes the size of an Internet pipe. This determines how many, and the size of, data packets that move from one location to another; at the same time. This metric determines the rate of downloads. A download consists of data separated into packets. These packets are divided into sizes that can travel through the available bandwidth. Thus, the more bandwidth, the more data packets that can be transferred. Resulting in faster download speeds.
When determining Internet requirements, the ISP will present packages with download speeds. The download speed metric is bandwidth. With bandwidth, you are receiving how much of the “Internet pipe” your ISP is willing to provide. This will vary for different Internet packages.
What is Bandwidth?
To put this definition simply, let us think about auto traffic.
For auto traffic, a car is a packet of data. Our road is the Internet. A lane is the amount of bandwidth.
On a one lane road, bandwidth for traffic is low. The greatest number of cars is limited to what can be organized in a single file line.
If we expand that road to four lanes, there is enough bandwidth for cars to travel in four single-file lines. It has increased four times. Thus, the amount of cars that can fit on a given road is the bandwidth of that road.
When It is a Problem
When experiencing an issue, the downloading picture or the streaming video becomes pixelated. This becomes frustrating. The remedy is having to pause the video and allowing the buffer feature to catch up. This is an all too familiar situation, and it is frustrating.
The cause of this situation is one of a few things. The bandwidth is insufficient for the downloading file size. Too many users are trying to use a network connection. Or, it is not optimized.
Although these are issues, optimizing bandwidth can have tremendous benefits to the user experience.
It is ensuring traffic goes through network routes with the most bandwidth. This allows for traffic to pass uninterrupted. At least with no noticeable delays (not accounting for distance) to the user. The result of optimizing bandwidth can have implications on network latency. Internet transit costs can also be a factor.
Network monitoring allows the measurement of both of these metrics. Monitoring needs tools to determine bandwidth usage. This will determine if there is an opportunity to optimize it.
Border Gateway Protocol
Border gateway protocol (BGP) is what determines the path of Internet traffic. Based on this protocol, Internet traffic moves through the best path selected route.
Best path selected routes are based upon the shortest logical distance to the user. This means bandwidth, congestion, and network latency are not considered.
What is bandwidth?
It is more than a definition. It has implications on both home and business Internet users. You can understand when it is the problem through monitoring. You can then use these insights to remedy the situation.
To learn more about networking terms as they relate to DevOps, download the DevOps Networking Terms eBook.