Three Functions of Bandwidth in Computer Network

In Computer Networking Skills, Computer Skills
The Three Functions of Bandwidth

For the people who often deal with all internet sites and networks would have been familiar with the concept and the functions of bandwidth. The literal meaning of bandwidth is broad of a ribbon. But the real meaning of bandwidth regarding the computer network is a measure of data transfer consumption value which is calculated in the unit of bits per second, kilobits per second, or another unit between the server and the client within a certain limit of time. We can also define the bandwidth as the width of the frequency range used by the signal in a particular transmission medium. From the two definitions above, we can conclude that the bandwidth is the maximum capacity of a communication path used to transfer the measured data in a second.

If you’re still having trouble in defining bandwidth, the simplest analogy is to imagine at the road we walk every day. Suppose that the number of vehicles passing across the street has the same speed and the same size. Thus, if we widen the streets, the more vehicles will be able to go through the road, so that the more vehicles can flow through the way in a parallel position. On the contrary, if we narrow down the road, the fewer vehicles are capable passing by at the parallelly as they have to queue to pass through the road. In this illustration, the width of the street that is likened as the bandwidth. Or if you want a more parable, the bandwidth is the capacity of the road to allow a certain number of cars that are capable of passing through the whole width of the path in a particular time unit.

The term bandwidth is used in many scopes. In computer network, the term bandwidth often becomes the synonymous of data transfer rates, or the rate at data movement from one point to another point over a period of time, which is also symbolized as bits/sec (bps), bytes/sec (Bps ), kilobits, kilobytes, megabytes, and so on.

For example, if you use a LAN connection with a 100 Mbps of bandwidth, means within the network can ideally perform data transactions with a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). The larger or higher the bandwidth of computer network connection can allow more massive data delivery in a duration of time, such as sending pictures, music files, movies, videos, and so on. Learn also how to measure quota for live streaming video.

The term bandwidth is also used in the world of web hosting. It’s the same analogy with computer connections on a LAN network. For instance, with a wider bandwidth, the more power a web hosting can transfer data and information which is getting stronger or faster. In fact, some web hosting providers offer unlimited bandwidth. It means you can transfer data as much as you want from the web hosting to the network devices and hardware that access your website.

Knowing the three functions of bandwidth can help you to understand the computer network better. Check out the three functions of bandwidth below!

The Functions of Bandwidth

1. As the Track or Data Transmission Medium

This is one of the common functions of bandwidth that is the commonly applied in almost everywhere where there is a computer network available. Bandwidth does serve as a medium or data transmission track that is owned by a particular computer or network. This term may be somewhat adjacent to the notion of media in other locations. For example, between the computer and the LAN connection at your home, the physical media of the connection between the laptop with your network at home is a LAN cable. However, in the LAN cable, there is a track or network that allows data transfer connection between your laptop with other computers on the network. Read also: Types of network cabling.

2. To Limit the Speed of Data Transfer

This second function of bandwidth is commonly applied by network administrators to keep the network service that they manage properly as there would be some users who access a website or particular type of data transfer that may suck a lot of bandwidth. For example, downloading an HD movie, watch live football streaming online, and so forth. Such connections will suck up a lot of bandwidth, and will significantly affect the convenience of other users out there who also want to access the internet.

Therefore, the network managers will usually share the bandwidth fairly to the internet users, for example, they may split it to all of the users evenly based on the data plan. Thus, for a user who is downloading an HD movie will not siphon the network bandwidth beyond the limited data transfer speed. So that other user is still able to access the internet comfortably.

3. To Limit the Amount of Transferable Data

This function may also be more frequently applied by network administrators and web hosting providers. Using the bandwidth limitation, they can manage the medium to limit the total amount of data that can be transferred within a period. For example, a web hosting provides bandwidth at 1 GB per month. That means the user who hosts a website on the web hosting can allow data transfer using the web hosting as much as 1 GB within a month, no matter how many devices access the site and how much the access speed, and so forth. This rule only limits the amount of data that the hosting can transfer to its users. This restriction is typically applied by network hosting administrators as a form of service differentiation for hosting enthusiasts to move to a higher hosting package and of course, has a higher cost as well.

Those are the three bandwidth functions that commonly applied in the computer network. Some of these functions may only be applied to specific contexts only. However, the most fundamental function of bandwidth according to data transfer. Without bandwidth, it is impossible to transfer data. The bandwidth is also determined by many things, both from the media elements used (e.g., fiber optic cable will have greater bandwidth when it’s compared to ordinary telephone wires), sites or data transfer sources accessed (e.g., site A limits the bandwidth while the site B no, then the bandwidth access from site B will be higher and faster), and so forth.

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