Internet Tips and Tricks

Gigabit vs Gigabyte? Why is Everything So Confusing?

Do you get confused when you hear gigabit vs gigabyte? What about megabits versus megabytes? Do you scratch your head when you see abbreviations such as Mbps or MB? You are not alone if your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions. 

These terms can be confusing, especially for those who live in unserved or underserved communities where broadband has been non-existent. We are here to help you navigate this piece of internet terminology 

race communications fiber internet

And why should you know the difference?

Pay close attention to gigabit versus gigabyte. Otherwise, you might end up with a data plan or storage capacity eight times smaller than you initially thought. Satellite or wireless providers often sell their packages based on usage, not speed. 

By knowing your Gigabits and Gigabytes, you can make informed decisions and ask your internet service provider (ISP) the right questions to secure the best possible package for your household. 

Back to Basics: Bit and Byte 

Before we compare gigabits and gigabytes, we must revisit the basics: the difference between bits and bytes. It’s not hard to confuse the terms’ bit’ and ‘byte’ as they both sound similar and describe digital data. However, they are used for different purposes and measure different things. 

A bit (binary digit) is the most basic unit used in computer science and telecommunications. Following the binary system, each bit is either a 1 or a 0. This measurement is considered data moving, so when talking about internet speeds, the correct term to use is bits per second. Its symbol is ‘b.’ 

Eight bits make one byte, a unit of digital information. You can use these terms when describing the size of files and data capacity (hard drive storage on laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets, and cloud storage). Its symbol is ‘B.’ 

gigabit vs gigabyte

What’s the difference? Gigabit vs Gigabyte

ISPs do not simply measure their plans or storage in bits and bytes. These are the most basic, smallest units, and we require much higher data caps in our day-to-day life. So, instead, we use unit prefixes from the metric system to communicate quantity more efficiently (see table below for examples).  

  

prefix   multiplier   bits-to-bytes   bytes-to-bits  
kilo- (K)   1,000x   1Kb = 125B   1KB = 8Kb  
mega- (M)   1,000,000x   1Mb = 125KB   1MB = 8Mb  
giga- (G)   1,000,000,000x   1Gb = 125MB   1GB = 8Gb  
tera- (T)   1,000,000,000,000x   1Tb = 125GB   1TB = 8Tb  

SOURCE: ATLANTIC.NET  

  

Mega as a prefix denotes a million.  

  • One Megabit (Mb) is one million bits. We measure internet speed with megabits per second (Mbps). 
  • ISPs offer packages ranging from speeds of 200 Mbps to 5,000 Mbps (or 5 Gbps). 
  • A Megabyte (MB) is one million bytes (or eight million bits). We use it to measure file sizes and storage. 

  Following the same logic, giga means a billion 

  • One gigabit (Gb) is 1,000 Megabits (Mb).  
  • One gigabyte (GB) is 1,000 Megabytes (MB). 

Megabit speeds allow for a lower number of users to browse the internet and complete simple tasks such as light streaming and email correspondence. Gigabit speeds on the other hand allow for more users to use the available broadband with no risk of significant lagging, making these speeds ideal for heavy use such as online gaming and multiple concurrent streams. 

How fast is 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps) or 125MB/s in terms of usage?  

  • 100-page pdf document (size of 1 MB) = 0.008 download time, 
  • Streaming services in high definition (approx. 3 GB/hour) = 24 seconds. 

Use this download time calculator to see how fast various other internet speeds are. 

Key Takeaways: Gigabit Vs Gigabyte

Hopefully, you now fully grasp the difference between gigabits and gigabytes. To summarize, gigabits measure internet speeds (in gigabits per second). Gigabytes, on the other hand, denote file size, storage space, and data usage. One byte equals eight bits. 

Double-check whether your ISP sells you a plan defined by speed (Mbps/Gbps) or usage (MB/GB). At Race Communications, we do not charge users for usage. Instead, you get the speed you want – and we make selecting a plan as easy as possible.  

Get Gigafied with Race 

 We offer a variety of packages for our high-speed internet from speeds of 25Mbps as our Basic Broadband+ package up to 10 Gbps (10,000 Mbps) in our Gigafy plus package. All packages provide symmetrical speeds, which means you are getting the same speed for your uploads and downloads. 

Contact our specialists at 877-722-3833 or place an order online, and we will help you select the best package for your internet needs.  

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in August 2022. 

race communications fiber internet