What is Mbps and Gbps Internet speed?

What is Mbps and Gbps Internet speed?

Date: 05/03/24

Author: Shia Mitchell

What is Mbps and Gbps?

Choosing the right internet speed is an important factor for any broadband package. There are plenty of providers out there offering different Mbps and Gbps speeds. But how do you know what you need? And why does it matter?

Article contents:

Before we get into the details, let's make one thing clear—download speeds come in all shapes and sizes, and ultrafast 3 Gbps internet isn't going to be essential for everyone. That's why we've put together this guide on the differences between Mbps and Gbps, to help you make sense of the jargon and decide what best suits your needs.

Quick definition: Both Mbps and Gbps are measurements of data transfer. Mbps refers to “megabits per second” and indicates millions of bits being transferred per second. Gbps is “gigabits per second”, and indicates billions of bits transferred per second.

What is Mbps?

Mbps, meaning “megabits per second”, is the measurement used for download and upload speed. You might also see this referred to as bandwidth, which is the same thing. If you see 1 Mbps, this means 1 million bits of data per second are being transferred. 

The more Mbps available, the quicker you can download files, browse websites, watch videos, and anything else you do online. But is it enough for your house? Let’s take a look at when Mbps is the best option.

When to use Mbps broadband

When it comes to everyday internet usage, there isn’t much that Mbps internet speed packages can’t handle. In fact, Mbps speed is commonly used in most households. Of course, Mbps speeds could range anywhere from 1 Mbps to 999 Mbps, with big differences in speed and efficiency at either end of that spectrum. As a result, speed requirements depend on how many people live in a house and how many devices will typically use the connection at the same time.

On the lower end of the Mbps speed range, such as 10-50 Mbps — a common speed for traditional phone line broadband connections, you’ll have fast enough internet to carry out basic tasks like internet browsing and standard definition (SD) streaming. You may find things become slower or less stable with more demanding tasks however, like downloading large files, or streaming from multiple devices simultaneously.

On the upper end of Mbps broadband speeds, such as 600-900 Mbps, you’ll have a noticeably faster and more reliable experience with these demanding tasks.

When deciding what level of Mbps you need, don’t forget to consider all connected devices, such as smart TVs and video doorbells. The more devices carrying out activities at the same time will slow down your connection. But generally, Mbps is suitable for most small-medium households with light and casual internet usage. 

Households with large numbers of people, or multiple connected devices, could benefit from Gbps speed. If you have a large household with several members engaging in heavy-usage activities like online gaming, or joining video calls while working from home, for example. Maybe you live in a house-share where six or more people are using the same broadband connection daily. The requirements are more intensive in these cases, so Gbps speeds could ensure you can all enjoy reliable internet.

Megabits vs megabytes: Are Mbps and MBps the same?

It’s easy to mix up Mbps and MBps. We promise it’s not just a typo — there is a difference! 

Mbps, with just the M capitalised, refers to megabits per second. MBps, with M and B capitalised, refers to megabytes per second. You’ll notice it’s ‘bits’ for Mbps, and ‘bytes’ for MBps. It’s a very subtle difference at a glance. Unlike Mbps, which measures internet speed, MBps measures the data transfer rate of upload or download — like the download speed listed when you’re downloading a game file.

Ultimately, the one that matters the most when you’re choosing a broadband package will be Mbps, as this will be used to describe the speed of the broadband on offer.

What is Gbps?

Gbps, meaning “gigabits per second”, indicates how much data can be uploaded or downloaded in a second. 1 Gbps is equivalent to 1 billion bits of data being transferred every second. This is obviously faster than Mbps internet speeds, but whether you need that extra speed will come down to your needs.

What is  “1 Gig” broadband?

It’s relatively common to hear phrases like “1 gig of data” in advertising for broadband — but what does it mean?

A “gig” in this context is simply an abbreviation of “gigabit”, meaning it can be interpreted as a description of speed in the same way as 1 Gbps.

In the context of mobile data and broadband data allowances, the phrase “gig” can occasionally be used to refer to the total number of gigabytes that can be transferred per month. For example, a phone contract with “15 gigs of data per month” would cap the user’s mobile internet data once the permitted 15 GB of data had been used.

When to use Gbps broadband

Intensive internet use can benefit from high Gbps speeds, such as large data transfers, simultaneous 4K video streams, attending video meetings while working from home, and online gaming. For these tasks, 1 Gbps speeds allow for faster and more efficient connections to keep everything running smoothly.

While Gbps speeds offer clear advantages for specific use cases, it might be overkill for your average internet user who only needs a connection for casual web browsing, checking social media, and sending emails. These users may not experience an improvement with Gbps speeds.

Mbps vs Gbps: Which internet speed do I need?

As mentioned, Mbps and Gbps are both used to measure data transfer. The more “bits” you can download per second, the faster your internet speed is. Whether you need that speed will come down to what you plan to use it for. 

You want to be sure that your internet connection can handle the demands of everyone in your house. Whether you’ve got little ones demanding Percy Pig all day long, lots of Zoom calls to attend, or want to get stuck into your favourite video game, your broadband needs to be reliable — and there’s no better way to ensure this than with full fibre broadband. 

Even if you’re not looking for extreme speeds, modern full fibre connections are more reliable than older copper or “basic fibre” tech; removing peak-time slowdowns and greatly improving upload speeds.

When it comes to deciding what speed you need, here’s a handy breakdown of the typical speeds required for everyday online activities:


For many online games, the higher end of a Mbps connection will typically be sufficient. Basic online gaming activities can be supported reliably, so you can live your best life in casual games like Minecraft or the latest Pokémon game. However, if there are many other devices connected to the same network doing lots of other activities, this can slow you down.

Fast-paced, competitive online games require a bit more of a boost. Gbps speeds offer low latency, which means response times are quicker. This reduces lag and improves your gameplay, so you can submerge yourself in online cooperative gaming.

Gbps speeds win in terms of low latency, multiple device support, and fast downloads. If you and several friends like to play online together at your house, Gbps would ensure none of you miss out on any gameplay. For more casual gamers playing less demanding games, Mbps connections will be generally sufficient. 

If you're serious about competitive gaming or live streaming your plays to Twitch, you will  want the best performance possible, and a Gbps connection could provide a noticeable edge. 

Remote working (working from home)

In today’s world, more and more people are working from home. Remote working requires a reliable and fast connection, and whether you need Gbps or Mbps depends on the online tasks involved with your work.

For most remote work, standard Mbps connections can support activities such as video calls, web browsing, and document sharing. Potential disruptions can happen if your work involves regular transfer of large files, such as high-resolution images, videos, and presentations.

A Gbps connection could be suitable if your work involves regular high-definition video calls, multimedia project collaboration, and cloud-based tools — like Adobe Cloud and Figma for web designers, or Frame.io for video editors. This faster connection speeds up large file sharing and downloading.

Video and audio streaming

Video streaming requires the most bandwidth, especially for high-resolution movies and shows. Some video streaming services allow you to adjust video quality to prevent buffering, and some will even auto-adjust so your viewing experience has little interruption.

The highest bandwidth speed required to stream one 4K video is 25 Mbps. So unless 40 people are individually watching 4K content all at the same time over one connection — or you have inferior tech like copper or basic fibre broadband, which are susceptible to instability during peak times and other issues — you likely won’t be needing 1 Gbps broadband.

When streaming audio only, such as music and podcasts, the requirement is far less bandwidth-intensive. Depending on the quality, you may need 10 Mbps for the highest and less than 1 Mbps for the lowest. You can listen as much as you want without having much impact on your overall bandwidth.

Converting between Mbps and Gbps

It’s easy to convert between Mbps and Gbps. Simply put, 1,000 Mbps is equivalent to 1 Gbps. So 2,000 Mbps equals 2 Gbps, 3,000 equals 3 Gbps, and so on. If you see a 1,000 Mbps speed package, know that this is the same as 1 Gbps or “1 gig”.

Speeds over WiFi vs Ethernet

It’s also worth bearing in mind that speeds differ over WiFi and Ethernet.

Generally, the advertised speed for your broadband package will be the range achievable on a wired connection, using an ethernet cable to connect the device to the router. Over a WiFi connection, this speed will often be lower, as data won’t be transferred as quickly.

If you were to choose a 35 Mbps broadband package with a basic fibre or copper provider, for example, your WiFi speeds will be far lower. For this reason, it’s worth considering whether you will be connecting to the internet via ethernet or over WiFi when choosing a package.

Learn more about the differences between basic and full fibre in our guide.

Choosing your optimal Internet speed

The most suitable internet speed for your household comes down to the demands of your everyday online lifestyle. Consider how much online activity will be going on at once and the number of devices. Casual internet usage can be supported by standard Mbps speeds, while Gbps could be beneficial for regular bandwidth-intensive activities.

If you experience minor delays at home with your current broadband, test your speed to see if you could benefit from a better connection.

Looking for great broadband speeds in London? Look no further.

At Community Fibre, we offer the fastest broadband speeds at unbeatable prices, ranging from 150 Mbps to 3 Gbps (3,000 Mbps), allowing for up to 800 Mbps over WiFi. Check our latest speed offers here.