Bandwidth vs. Throughput: Understanding The Difference

Bandwidth and throughput are terms used to describe a device's ability to transfer data. The difference of bandwidth vs throughput is that bandwidth refers to the maximum speed, which a device can transfer data. Whereas throughput refers to the rate at which a device transfers data at a time.

Bandwidth refers to the maximum speed at which a device could transfer information.

Throughput refers to the rate at which a device can transfer information.

Bandwidth vs Throughput: Comparison Table



Bandwidth is the highest amount of data that can travel within a link or network.

Throughput is the exact amount of data that can be transferred over a network.

Bandwidth is always included a physical layer property.

Throughput can be included at any layer in OSI model.

A data rate regular in bits per second.

These data may be delivered over a logical link or physical, or pass through a particular network node.

Bandwidth does not depend on latency on a link.

Throughput depends on latency on the link.

Theoretical performance.

Real world performance.

Network Throughput vs Bandwidth with Example

Some of the most confusing words in online terminology are bandwidth and throughput. Some folks will tell you that it is a kind of scenario - two unique ways of saying the same thing. In actuality, these words are used interchangeably by some online service providers, which may make it simple to get confused in the user level too.

We figured it’s time to set the record straight.

Picture a New York sidewalk. Let us say that the width of a sidewalk is equal to approximately five people walking shoulder-to-shoulder. That is the sidewalk's bandwidth - the number of people who can travel along the path. The same idea applies when talking about you the bandwidth of the internet. It is the amount of information that can move from one place.

When there are walking on the sidewalk, what happens? Does the sidewalk become smaller, shrinking to accommodate travelers? No way! Bandwidth, or the sidewalk remains the same even when the amount of people varies.

That is where throughput arises in! Throughput is how essential data per second is traveling from one location to another. In cases like this, the number of people on the sidewalk will be throughout.

So what defines throughput? It can vary depending on a range of different factors, but one of the biggest culprits would be the processing capability of devices on either end or in-between destinations.

For example, if someone is transferring your data at 100 Mbps and your computer can only process the data at 50 Mbps, then the throughput will only be 50 Mbps. Just like getting attached behind slow tourists walking down 5th Ave, sometimes there’s no easy way to get around limited hardware throughput.

Key Differences: Bandwidth vs Throughput

Meaning– Bandwidth refers to the amount of information which may be transmitted from point A to point B. It's a performance metrics used to gauge the transmission capability. Throughput is very similar to but different. Throughput refers to the quantity of data transmitted from point A to point B in a period. Bandwidth describes a peak value, while throughput describes an amount that achieved.

Measure– While throughput is the measure of a genuine number of data packets that could get transmitted, bandwidth is a measure of the most significant number of data packets that can travel through a communication channel. As an instance of a highway, bandwidth refers to the amount. Throughput is the number.

Unit- Bandwidth typically measured in bits per second or bytes per second, kilobits per second (Kbps), megabits per second (Mbps), or gigabits per second (Gbps). Throughput measured in any unit, in bits per second, or a few circumstances. Throughput is the number of data systems. When representing distinct data amounts, a lowercase 'b' represents ‘pieces' whereas an uppercase 'B' means bytes.

Applications– A residential broadband connection may permit for a maximum bandwidth of 10 Mbps, but the actual throughput could reduce. This is the reason Internet service providers often advertise speed "up to 10 Mbps".

A fast gigabit Ethernet reaches a throughput speed of 1 Gbps might require bandwidth transmission rate of 1.25 Gbps due to the overhead in Ethernet frames. Programs that require maximum throughput include phone signaling, video conferencing, and internet video streaming.

What is Throughput?

Throughput is the title given to the number. To put it differently, the speed at which messages arrive at their destination is measured by throughput. It's a measure of packet delivery that is real instead of theoretical packet delivery. Typical throughput informs the user how many packets are arriving at their destination.

To get a high-performance service packet to have to attain their destination successfully. If lots of programs are being lost in transit and for that reason are ineffective, then the functioning of the system will be inferior. Monitoring network throughput is a must for organizations seeking to monitor the real-time performance of the network and successful packet delivery.

The majority of the time, network throughput is measured in bits per second (bps), but occasionally it's also measured in data packets per second. Network throughput measured as an average figure used to represent the network's functioning. Measuring a very low throughput indicates problems like packet loss where packets lost in transit (these could be catastrophic to VoIP sound calls where sound skips).

What is Bandwidth?

The term “bandwidth" may be utilized in two distinct contexts. In signal processing, the time is used to refer to the variety of frequencies a device can transfer. But here we refer to this term because it used in computer networking. In media, bandwidth measures the maximum speed at which a device can transfer information.

Internet connections always expressed in terms of bandwidth. As an example, when an online service provider advertises a 50 Mbps connection. They imply that the link is capable of moving 50 megabytes per second. There are two rates for transferring information: the prices are usually more prominent than the speeds.

Factors That Affect Throughput In A Network

Now that we've noticed the gap between bandwidth vs throughput. Let's take a detailed look into some of the things that can influence the throughput on a system.

1. Transmission Medium Limitation

Like we mentioned above, bandwidth (or the technical capability) of a specific transmission medium will restrict the throughput over this medium. By way of instance, a FastEthernet interface provides a data rate of 100 Mbps. Therefore, they can't go over the 100 Mbps data rate. The data rate over this kind of interface will be approximately 95% of the capacity.

2. Enforced Limitation

Let us assume an organization would like to buy a 3 Mbps link capacity from an ISP, through what medium will this capability be delivered by the ISP? The likelihood, based on current technologies, is that the ISP will use a medium that could theoretically deliver more capacity compared to 3 Mbps being asked (e.g., MetroEthernet on 100 Mbps interface).

As before-mentioned, the ISP will use other features to make the 3 Mbps capacity on the link which will, in turn, influence the throughput on that link.

3. Network Congestion

The amount of congestion on a system will also impact throughput. By way of instance, the experience of one car on a 4-lane highway is significantly better than if there are 100 cars on the same highway. As a general rule, the more congested the network is, the less throughput will be available on this network (when seen from the perspective of one source-destination set).

4. Latency

Latency is the time it needs for a packet to get from sender to destination. On the network, the higher the lag for some kinds of traffic. Let us take TCP, for example: before another flow of packets can be transmitted from source to destination, the other stream has to be acknowledged.

Consequently, if the acknowledgment is postponing, the average throughput measured over time will also decrease. The throughput of other types of traffic, such as UDP isn't necessarily affected by latency.

5. Packet Loss and Errors

Much like latency, packet loss and errors can affect the throughput of certain sorts of traffic. This is because bad/lost packets might have to be retransmitted, reducing the throughput between the device's communication. Both latency and packet loss may be affected by a multitude of variables, such as security attacks bottlenecks, and apparatus that were damaged.

6. Protocol Operation

The protocol used to carry and send the packets over a link can also influence the throughput. Examples involve the flow control and congestion avoidance features in TCP, which may affect when and how much information can be transmitted between two devices.

Tools to Measure Network Throughp​​​​​​​​​​ut

As there are lots of tools available, some of which are proprietary and specific, this section can't be exhaustive.

Some of these tools may be used for nefarious purposes. Using these tools can result in effects if the tester has good intentions.

  • HTTPing
  • SpeedOf.Me, HTML5 Speed Test.
  • HTTPing for Android.
  • Pingb bandwidth estimating tool
  • Iperf bandwidth measuring tool
  • IxChariot and IxChariot Pro endpoints
  • ByteBlower.
  • Xena Networks.

What is a Good Internet Speed? (Bandwidth vs Speed)

There is A frequent misconception that bandwidth can be utilized as a measure of rate. It's worth revisiting because of commonly the two are mixed up, although We've discussed this briefly above. As an example, you see that you have available.

This leads to great marketing, but it is not accurate. If you raise the amount of bandwidth, then the one thing that changes is that more data can be transmitted at one time. Being able to send more data at once seems to make the system faster, but it does not alter the actual speed at which the packets are traveling.

The fact is bandwidth is only one of a multitude of variables that tie in the rate of a network. Within a network, the rate is a measure of reaction time -- variables like packet loss and latency impact rate.

Why Difference Between Bandwidth and Throughput is Important?

There are many reasons why bandwidth vs throughput is important. Devices are the most significant deal-maker as the devices that connected to a network may not be able of the same speeds as the router. For example, if you use a Wireless AC Router with a Wireless N device, you will be restricted to the maximum speed of the slower Wireless N device.

Also having a multiple-devices connected to a network at once can slow down things. This is because each system uses a portion of the bandwidth that is available up.

Congestion is another problem that may result in your throughout to be slower than your bandwidth. If there are a good deal of physical barriers between your device and your router, you might wind up getting a more conscious connection as the sign struggles to maneuver through these physical obstacles (if using Wi-Fi).

Likewise, if there are plenty of competing networks in the area, you might get this can cause your system to slow down as they interfere with your network's signal.


Even though widely utilized in the area of media, bandwidth and throughput are two commonly misunderstood concepts.

Bandwidth can be defined as the quantity of information that can flow through a network at a given period.

Throughput is a measure of the number of units of information that a system can process in a given period.

Bandwidth is the highest throughput you can ever attain while the actual pace that we experience while browsing is the throughput.