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The maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a given amount of time.

Bandwidth is often mistaken for internet speed when it's actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time – calculated in megabits per second (Mbps). 

What's the difference?

Some internet terms are so similar that they’re often confused with each other. We're here to help set the record straight.

Bandwidth vs speed

Bandwidth is how much information you receive every second, while speed is how fast that information is received or downloaded. Let's compare it to filling a bathtub. If the bathtub faucet has a wide opening, more water can flow at a faster rate than if the pipe was narrower. Think of the water as the bandwidth and the rate at which the water flows as the speed.

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Bandwidth vs latency

Latency is sometimes referred to as delay or ping rate. It's the lag you experience while waiting for something to load. If bandwidth is the amount of information sent per second, latency is the amount of time it takes that information to get from its source to you.

Bandwidth vs throughput

Throughput is how much information actually gets delivered in a certain amount of time. So if bandwidth is the max amount of data, throughput is how much of that data makes it to its destination – taking latency, network speed, packet loss and other factors into account.

How much bandwidth do I need?

If you have multiple devices and several family members on them at the same time, you'll need more bandwidth to keep up. (Test your current internet speed.) Streaming, gaming and other high-capacity activities demand a certain amount of bandwidth speed to get the best experience without a lot of buffering or lag. (See the FCC guide to broadband speeds.) And the more bandwidth your internet provider is able to deliver, the faster you’ll get to do your thing.

The FCC provides a set of guidelines for Mbps needed based on digital activity. For example, if you love to stream 4K content, you'll need 25 Mbps at the very minimum and 4-25 Mbps for telecommuting or gaming. Learn more about how much Internet you need.

See FCC guide

What is my bandwidth?

Now that we've answered the question what is bandwidth, how do you know how much you have and if it's enough?

If you love to stream HD videos, download large files and enjoy multiplayer gaming, you may want to consider speed plans of 100 Mbps and above. For all other activities like streaming music, surfing and video conferencing - anything above 25 Mbps should be enough. It all depends on how patient you are with potential buffering and slightly slower speeds when others at home are competing for bandwidth at the same time for their own activities.

Use our speed test to see how your current provider compares to Fios.

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How to increase bandwidth

There are a number of ways to increase your bandwidth and get the most from your internet and devices. Here are just a few of the.m:

Internet plan

Get a higher Mbps plan if you stream a lot of content and have more connected devices and appliances at home. Fios Gigabit Connection, with speeds up to 940/880 Mbps, can handle up to 100 devices at once and Verizon 5G home internet is going Ultra in select areas.

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Upgrade to the most current router for faster, higher frequencies if you have multiple connected devices.

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Try to connect computers to your router or network with an Ethernet cable. Being wired directly helps with congestion on the airwaves and helps prevent bandwidth and connection issues from other devices.

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