So you’re looking to upgrade your internet service, or to subscribe to a different internet service provider (ISP), then you’ll probably see the advertised speeds, such as 50 Mbps.

But are you reading these numbers correctly? Are your interpretations and expectations realistic? Or were you fooled by the ISPs with their big numbers? Don’t worry, this confusion will all go away in just two minutes.

### The Basics

First off, computers count in 1s and 0s, binary, we all know that. A value of either a 1 or 0 is called a bit, similar to a digit. Say the number of 2,473 has 4 digits; similarly a binary number of 0100 has 4 bits.

So then when a number is 8 bits, it is now called a byte. When there’s 16 bits (eg.0010100111010100), it is then 2 bytes. Easy right?

### Conversion

The symbol for bits is b, while B means byte (8 bits).

While a kilobyte, just means 1024 bytes. So, 1KB = 1024B.

Which equates to (1024 times 8) 8192bits. So then a megabyte is 1024 kilobyte, a gigabyte is 1024 megabyte and so on.

Here’s a helpful little calculator https://www.gbmb.org/mbps-to-mbs

Now back to the topic. A 50 Mbps download speed reads 50 MegaBITS per second, not 50 MegaBYTES per second. So what this means is that the supposed speed of your internet can download 6.25 MB of data per second, instead 50 MB. So a 100 MB file won’t download in 2 seconds, rather it will take at least 16 seconds.

So now hopefully there’s no more confusion, and you are now a better informed consumer going into the sometimes exhausting process of choosing you internet package. Bye bye.