Is a 'Megabit' the Same as a 'Megabyte'?

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You will often hear the expression 'megabits-per-second' when talking internet connections. But what exactly is a 'megabit'?

A megabit (Mb) is approximately 5000 words of plain text.

It is often confused with its big brother, the megabyte (MB), which is 8x larger at 40,000 words of plain text.

A 'bit' is a 'binary digit', a very small package of computer data. It takes approximately 8 bits to make one single typed character in an email.

A megabit is approximately 1 million bits, which is approximately 5000 words of typed email text.

The Little 'b' vs. the Big 'B'

Yes, this is confusing. The little 'b' is for 'bit'. The capital 'B' is for 'Byte'. Hence, Mb and MB are abbreviations for the smaller vs. larger data sizes.

Example: My internet connection is 50 megabits-per-second download speed (50 Mbps)

This statement describes a connection speed of approximately (50 * 5000) words of plain text in 1 second. 

Example: My smartphone gets 4 megabits-per-second on my network.

This statement describes the cellphone connection speed as being approximately (4 * 5000) words of plain text in 1 second.

The Big Brother, 'Megabyte'

A megabyte (MB) is 8 megabits combined. A megabyte is approximately 40,000 words (8 hundred pages) of plain notepad text. Megabytes are commonly used to measure hard drive space and RAM memory.

Example: this MP3 download is about 7 megabytes in total size.

This statement describes that a single music mp3 file is the same size as (7 * 40,000) words of plain text.

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