Different physical media support the transfer of bits at different speeds. Data transfer is usually discussed in terms of bandwidth and throughput.
Bandwidth is the capacity of a medium to carry data. Digital bandwidth measures the amount of data that can flow from one place to another in a given amount of time. Bandwidth is typically measured in kilobits per second (kb/s) or megabits per second (Mb/s).
The practical bandwidth of a network is determined by a combination of factors:
- The properties of the physical media
- The technologies chosen for signaling and detecting network signals
Physical media properties, current technologies, and the laws of physics all play a role in determining available bandwidth.
The table shows the commonly used units of measure for bandwidth.