What’s really the difference?
Understanding the differences between internet speed and data usage can be confusing but knowing how they differ can potentially save you some money. Let’s start with speed:
Speed is the measure of how quickly information, or data, is transferred to your device. This is measured against time in seconds and identified as Mbps (one million bits per second, or megabits per second). Depending on your plan, you may see your speeds vary from 1Mbps to 100Mbps. Think about it in terms of driving a car, if you drive at 50mph, you will arrive at your destination twice as fast as you would arrive while driving at 25mph. Various factors can affect speeds, such as rough weather or the number of active devices you have connected to the network. Speed is how fast your connection can consume data.
On the other side, Data Usage is the measure of how much data you’re consuming in total. Our internet plans measure this consumption per calendar month, and we offer various data usage caps ranging from 500GB, 1TB, and even unlimited. Gigabytes, or GB, is one-billion bits, while Terabytes, or TB, is one-trillion bits. Depending on your specific needs, it may be in your best interest to take an unlimited data plan, because you’ll never have to worry about hitting a data usage cap and having your speeds reduced. See our example graphic below to understand how they work in tandem.
Here, let’s suppose I have a tank that holds 30GB of internet total. That would be my available data usage at the start of the month, for that month. If I put a ball-valve or two at the bottom to control how fast the internet comes out, that would be my internet speed. A 1.5Mbps connection would be just a small creek-stream flowing data to my devices. While a 100Mbps connection would have the data running like a river.
Last month my family used 24 GB of data surfing the internet, which included texting pictures, working on homework, listening to music, streaming videos, checking social media, transferring files, checking email, etc. For most of that time, we averaged between 3-5Mbps for our internet speed. Our data usage for the month was 24 GB and our average internet speed was approximately 4 Mbps.
Faster internet speeds don’t necessarily mean you would inherently use more data. It would just deliver it to you faster. Small pipeline or a large pipeline, the choice is yours.
If you’d like to see your current or average speeds, click the blue button below to take a safe speed test from Ookla.