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What's the Difference Between Traffic and Bandwidth?

Internet Network

By Paul BrodskyOct 27, 2021

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If you find yourself questioning the difference between traffic and bandwidth, here's an analogy that will help. 

Imagine a busy highway.

Brake lights are twinkling and horns are honking as automobiles trickle bumper-to-bumper down the road.

If you've ever commuted to work in a heavily populated area or driven to the beach on a holiday weekend, you're familiar. But bear with me.

How many lanes does this imaginary highway have? For this example, let's say there are four.

These four lanes are the bandwidth.

And the cars are—you guessed it—the traffic.

If you added two additional lanes (more bandwidth), what would happen? The highway could allow more cars to travel at the same time.

And if you reduced the number of lanes down to just two? You'd get a traffic jam, a minivan full of fussy children, and a very frustrated parent threatening to turn the car around and scrap this year's beach trip.

You need sufficient bandwidth to ensure you arrive on time.

Bandwidth determines how much traffic can pass through.

In short, bandwidth determines how much traffic can pass through. More bandwidth can accommodate more traffic.

If this was helpful, you might like our explainers on:

 

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Paul Brodsky

Paul Brodsky

Paul Brodsky is a Senior Analyst at TeleGeography. He is part of the network, internet, cloud, and voice research team. His regional expertise includes Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

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