What are Mbps, Gbps etc ?

Car speed is measured in mph in the UK.

Internet speed is measured based on the amount of data that comes to/from you per second. Instead of MPH (for a car), it is bps (bits per second), or more commonly

  • Kbps (approx 1,000 bits per second) and 
  • Mbps (approx 1 million bits per second) and
  • Gbps (approx 1000 million bits per second).


To put this in real life context, if you were to listen to a radio station through your ipad or computer, this would need approximately 50Kbps, to watch an online video (eg youtube) or watch BBC iPlayer, it could be between 1Mbps to 10Mbps (depending on the quality, HD content needs more). The latest super hi-definition channels (eg from Netflix) can be a lot more. And, of course, if there are a few of you watching videos online at the same time then you need multiples of these figures, depending on how many of you are watching things online.