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17.2. Bandwidth

Bandwidth is often described as the carrying capacity of the network between two nodes. It is usually measured in bits per second, and the usual multiples of kilo (K) or mega (M) are often used. The multiples when referring to bits per second in a network refer to 1000 and 1,000,000 bits, respectively. A kilobit (1 Kb) is 1000 binary digits and a megabit (1 Mb) is 1000 kilobits or 1,000,000 bits.

Programmers often prefer to work with bytes instead of bits because bytes are the typical unit of data stored and retrieved in a computer. Since each byte contains 8 bits, a kilobit is equal to 125 bytes. To translate from bits to bytes, divide by 8; to go from bytes to bits, multiply by 8. However, byte prefixes such as kilo and mega refer to powers of 2. So 1 kilobyte (KB) contains 1024 bytes or 8192 bits. To translate between bits and kilobytes or megabytes is therefore a little more complicated. One method is to take the number of bits and divide by 8 to find the number of bytes. Divide the result by 1024 to get kilobytes. To get megabytes, divide kilobytes by 1024. Table 17-2 shows some common bandwidth values for an ideal connection.


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