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Broadband bits, bytes and acronyms explained

Broadband and all that goes with it may be confusing at times, especially for people who are new to technology. Lack of knowledge around commonly used broadband terms, phrases and speeds can mean you are not getting the best deal while looking to switch provider. Salespeople can often take advantage of this lack of knowledge and use terms that make little or no sense to consumers.

When it comes to the numbers, connection speeds and data sizes are measured differently, but often salespeople will refer to them with the same names. You may hear the word “meg” frequently when discussing broadband speeds, but “meg” can refer to two values - megabits or megabytes. There is a huge difference between megabits and megabytes. A byte is eight times bigger than a bit, with eight bits in every byte.

How do I know if it’s a bit or a byte when researching broadband deals?

When writing about megabytes, the acronym is MB, all capitals. If the “b” is lowercase, Mb, it’s a megabit. You will generally see “ps” written after “Mb” and this acronym, Mbps, stands for megabits per second. This figure relates to broadband speed.

Find out about these acronyms and more in our Broadband A-Z guide and check your broadband speed using our free broadband speed test.

How does this relate to me?

It’s important to know the difference between these terms as they will definitely have an impact on your broadband speeds.

For example, if you want to download a file that is 24MB in size using your 24Mbps broadband connection. This action will not take one second. It will take eight seconds because one MB is eight times bigger than a Mb.

Are there other measurements should I know?


A kilobyte (KB) is 1,024 bytes
A megabyte (MB) is 1,000 kilobytes
A gigabyte (GB) is 1024 megabytes
A terabyte (TB) is 1024 gigabytes


A kilobit is 1,024 bits
A megabit (Mb) is 1,024 kilobits (kb)
A gigabit (Gb) is 1024 megabits
A terabit (Tb) is 1024 gigabits

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