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Megabytes and Megabits: Here’s what your internet speed means

Megabytes and Megabits internet speeds
Lava International

The megabits and megabytes confusion is widespread among many internet users. This issue often arises when dealing with internet providers. Because we are more used to dealing with megabytes (for storage); when a company says to offer internet of up to 100 Mbps; people assume they will see speeds of 100 megabytes per second. But, unfortunately, that is not the case.

The abbreviation for megabit is Mb and megabyte is written as MB. This slight difference in capitalization is what brings the confusion. As bits and bytes sound and are written alike, however, they are different units of measurement.

megabits vs megabytes

Internet providers have adapted the megabit as standard for speed measurement. It makes more sense as the data is sent as single bits at a time. Using this unit of measurement is more accurate and organized. They could just translate their terms to casual consumer language; however, 100 Mb will always look more impressive than 12.5 MB. The marketing advantage certainly helps make more sales.

Difference between Megabits and Megabytes

One byte is equal to eight bits, in simple terms. This means one megabyte equals eight megabits. So, by doing some math, you will realize, 100Mbps speed is equivalent to 12.5 megabytes per second.

  • 1 byte = 8 bits
  • 1 megabyte = 8 megabits
  • 12.5 megabytes = 100 megabits
  • 1 gigabyte = 8 gigabits

Now that you have come to realize, your 100 Mbps internet speed is actually 12.5 MB per second; make sure your expectations are in check. Internet providers will often advertise these as their maximum speeds or at least mention it in small prints. However, you may get 100 Mbps speed; but congestion, physics, cable distance, data loss, Wi-Fi strength, and other factors will hinder those speeds.

Whether you prefer referring to data as megabits or megabytes, at least now you know what each means. The next internet service provider that crosses your path won’t be able to fool you!