Data travels in huge chunks of individual pieces. The data (words, photos, files, music) is broken into digital units called “bits.” Those bits get reassembled to complete the file. Of course, this happens so incredible fast it all looks you’re getting the file in one piece.
However, whenever you experience slow-downs or files are taking a long time to download, it’s because your internet connection, for whatever reason, isn’t fast enough to do it seamlessly.
It helps to think of what you are downloading (a website, a music file, a photo) as a completed digital puzzle and individual puzzle pieces as the digital “bits”—the pieces travel individually or in packs and are reassembled in their original file/form when they reach their destination (your device).
How many bits you can get per second indicates how fast the entire file (puzzle) gets to you completed.
So, think of one puzzle piece:
• 1,000 pieces can be labeled 1K
• 1,000K is 1,000,000 pieces, or 1M
• 1,000M is 1,000,000,000, or 1G
Let’s move over to the digital world.
Digital data that travels at a speed of one-thousand bits-per-second would be 1Kbps. As things speed up…
• Mbps indicates 1,000K (1,000,000) bits per second
• Gbps indicates 1,000M (1,000,000,000) bits per second
The old-school “dial-up” internet service operated in the slow Kbps range, delivering 40-50 Kbps. (Yet, you can still find dial-up service in some places, used by a few people, but it is rare.)
Today, internet service providers talk about internet speeds in terms of Mbps only, in the same way professional athletes’ salaries are measured in millions of U.S. dollars (M), not thousands (K). For instance, LeBron James makes 36M USD, while Beyoncé makes about 80M USD.