Internet, Networking, & Security Home Networking Kilobit - Megabit - Gigabit by Bradley Mitchell Writer An MIT graduate who brings years of technical experience to articles on SEO, computers, and wireless networking. our editorial process LinkedIn Bradley Mitchell Updated on May 24, 2019 Jill Ferry Photography / Getty Images Tweet Share Email Home Networking The Wireless Connection Routers & Firewalls Network Hubs ISP Broadband Ethernet Installing & Upgrading Wi-Fi & Wireless In computer networking, a kilobit normally represents 1000 bits of data. A megabit represents 1000 kilobits and a gigabit represents 1000 megabits (equal to one million kilobits). Network Data Rates: Bits Per Second Kilobits, megabits, and gigabits traveling over a computer network are typically measured per second: 1 kilobit per second equals 1 Kbps or kbps (these are equivalent) 1 megabit per second equals 1 Mbps 1 gigabit per second equals 1 Gbps Slow network connections are measured in kilobits, faster links in megabits, and very fast connections in gigabits. Examples of Kilobits, Megabits. and Gigabits The table below summarizes common usage of these terms in computer networking. Speed ratings represent the rated maximum of the technology. standard dial-up modems 56 Kbps typical encoding rates of MP3 music files 128 Kbps, 160 Kbps, 256 Kbps, 320 Mbps maximum encoding rate of Dolby Digital (audio) 640 Kbps T1 line 1544 Kbps Ethernet 10 Mbps 802.11b Wi-Fi 11 Mbps 802.11a and 802.11g Wi-Fi 54 Mbps Fast Ethernet 100 Mbps typical 802.11n Wi-FI data rates 150 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 450 Mbps, 600 Mbps typical 802.11ac Wi-Fi data rates 433 Mbps, 867 Mbps, 1300 Mbps, 2600 Mbps Gigabit Ethernet 1 Gbps 10 Gigabit Ethernet 10 Gbps The speed ratings of internet services vary depending on the kind of internet access technology you're using and also your choice of subscription plans. Many years ago, mainstream broadband connections were rated 384 Kbps and 512 Kbps. Now, speeds above 5 Mbps are common, with 10 Mbps and higher the norm in some cities and countries. The Problem with Bit Rates The Mbps and Gbps ratings of network equipment (including internet connections) get prominent billing in product sales and marketing. However, these data rates are only indirectly connected to network speed and the performance levels that users of a network actually experience. For example, consumers and home networks normally generate only a small amount of network traffic, but in rapid bursts, from usages like Web browsing and email. Even a relatively modest sustained data rate like 5 Mbps is sufficient for most Netflix streaming. Network load only gradually increases as more devices and users are added. Much of that traffic is incoming from the internet rather than self-generated within the home, where long-distance networking delays and other limits of a household's internet link often (not always) dictate the overall performance experience. The Confusion Between Bits and Bytes People less familiar with computer networking believe one kilobit equals 1024 bits. This equivalence is untrue in networking but may be valid in other contexts. Specifications for network adapters, network routers, and other equipment always use 1000-bit kilobits as the basis of their quoted data rates. The confusion arises as computer memory and disk drive manufacturers often use 1024-byte kilobytes as the basis of their quoted capacities. Get more background by exploring our article about the difference between bits and bytes. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Get the Latest Tech News Delivered Every Day Email Address Sign up There was an error. Please try again. You're in! Thanks for signing up. There was an error. Please try again. Thank you for signing up. Tell us why! Other Not enough details Hard to understand Submit More from Lifewire Understanding Broadband Internet Speeds 5G Speed: How to Understand the Numbers Bits Per Second Explained How Fast Is a Wi-Fi Network? How Is Network Performance Measured? Network Interface Cards Explained How Do Bits, Bytes, Megabytes, Megabits, and Gigabits Differ? Methods to Test Network Connection Speed How Fast Is 802.11g Wi-Fi Networking? Bit Depth vs. Bit Rate in Audio Recording What Is Gigabit Ethernet? Is Dial-Up Networking Still a Thing? How to Interpret Connection Speed Test Results How Fast Is Cable Internet? What Is Bandwidth? What Is a Megabit (Mb)?