Posted on 2012-08-23
Last Modified: 2012-08-27
Can some explain local bandwidth and Internet bandwidth and why streaming video locally does not affect Internet bandwidth but hitting exchange server at remote location does
Question by:heydorft
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    Expert Comment

    by:Norm Dickinson
    Local bandwidth is controlled by local hardware, as in your routers, switches, hubs and other gear that has wires connected through it. So if all of your equipment is fairly modern, you may be set up wtih a Gigabit network, or 1000 Mbps speed which is shared by all users on a LAN segment.

    Switches can segment a LAN into multiple individual 1000 Mbps segments, and each has a total bandwidth that is shared by users on that segment.

    Older networks typically run at 100 Mbps, with some from 10+ years ago still running at 10 Mbps.

    Internet speed is much slower than the first two of these options in most cases, and it cannot be segmented by a switch locally. The incoming speed is one aspect of bandwidth, and typically runs between 5 Mbps and 20 Mbps of download bandwidth for a commercial connection in a small business setting, with higher prices for higher speeds. The upload bandwidth is almost always much slower than download, and is partially to blame for any sort of speed on the web, as error correction and other communication traffic must always travel back to the point of origin on the same network segment.

    Internet speed is diminished in some cases by other accounts on the same line, as in the case of a cable modem setup, or by distance to the ISP in the case of DSL. Fiber can alleviate much of this, as can an increase in upload and download speed. Check your true bandwidth to a workstation by going to a trusted speed test site, such as Watch out for the ads - just run the test for an instant readout.

    Author Comment

    i keep seeing  bandwidth and thought local bandwidth was the same as the isp bandwidth. That the local bandwidth used the isp bandwidth on the lan.. so confused.. how can router etc spit out local bandwidth without isp bandwidth.. please forgive my dumbness

    Author Comment

    example would be great.. not sinking in
    LVL 13

    Accepted Solution

    Sure, I'd be happy to elaborate.

    Information that travels from one computer to another computer on your network will run with a speed limit of the network equipment, which as I said above it typically either 100 Mbps or 1000 Mbps. That translates into a few minutes or under a minute respectively for a file the size of a full length movie - 1 GB or so. It also depends on how many other users are also using the network at the same time to some degree, so if a lot of people are doing that at once, the speed may be slower.

    There can also be other things that slow it down, such as a computer that has a lot going on or is slow in nature. Copying from or to a slow computer can make the task take a lot longer than it would normally. (The length of the cable can also play a factor, though not as much if under the 300 foot engineering limit for standard Ethernet.)

    Internet bandwidth is completely separate, but related. It indicates how fast the information you download from - or upload to - the Internet takes to get to or from your modem - which is typically a DSL or Cable Modem. It is almost always a much smaller number, and therefore much slower speed, than local LAN connections. Usually home based Internet connections are 5 Mbps or less, while busines lines often run upwards of 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps or higher, although much higher than that is very cost prohibitive unless a company really needs it.

    Routers, switches and hubs by nature are set up to integrate connections of various speeds on each port. So a single switch, router or hub that is rated at 1000 Mbps can also have connections that are running much slower, including 100 Mbps or even 10 Mbps. At the end of the day, the connection you get to a particular file or web page or movie or whatever, is the least common denominator - or the slowest of all the things it has to go through.

    So if you are downloading that same movie that takes a minute from a fast computer connecting at 1000 Mbps, it would take several minutes from a slower computer that connects at 100 Mbps, and perhaps an hour or so on an Internet connection running at 5 Mpbs.

    You can have all three speeds going on at once on the same computer and the same network - three movies could be copying from three different places at three different speeds and you could tell by the progress bar on the copy progress indicator.

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