Difference Between Bandwidth and Speed

Bandwidth vs Speed

Bandwidth and speed are two parameters to refer the performance of systems. When considering the internet connections, sometimes, the terms ‘Bandwidth’ and ‘Speed’ are used with the same meaning of data transfer rate (or bit rate). It is related to the amount of data being transferred within a second. However bandwidth and speed have different meanings in networking and communications. The two terms are also used in electronics. For example, speed and bandwidth of Front Side Bus (FSB) have different meanings.


In communications, bandwidth is the difference between highest and lowest of the frequency range used for signaling. It is measured in Hertz (Hz). Bandwidth has the same meaning also in electronics, signal processing and optics.

For a network connection, bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred within a unit time. It is measured in the unit ‘bits per second’ or bps. Bit is the basic unit of measuring information. Value of a bit can be either ‘0’ or ‘1’ (or ‘true’ or ‘false’). To represent the decimal number 6 in binary, we need 3 bits as six is 110 in binary. For example, bandwidth of Gigabit Ethernet is 1Gbps.

When it comes to electronics, bandwidth of a bus means the amount of data that can be transferred through the bus within a second.


Speed (or data transfer rate) is the amount of data being transferred through a particular connection within a given time. Speed cannot be higher than the bandwidth of the connection. Speed of a connection can also be measured in ‘bits per second’ or bps. Sometimes speed is also called as bit rate or data rate.

In electronics, speed means the clock rate of a chip and measured in Hertz (Hz). For example, speed of a bus means how many times it can send data within a second.

What is the difference between Bandwidth and Speed?

1. In communication, bandwidth is measured in Hz, and it is measured in ‘bps’ (kbps, Mbps etc) for network connections. However, speed is only measured in bits per second.

2. For a given network speed of a connection cannot be higher than the bandwidth of the network connection.

3. The speed and bandwidth are also used to describe the communication through a bus inside a processor. In that case, speed is the clock rate of the bus, where bandwidth is the amount of data being transferred via the bus.