Megabit vs Megabyte: Confusion Regarding Bits & Bytes And Calculating Real Internet Speed [Picked]

It is pretty much common to find people with doubts about choosing the best preferred plan and package for fixed broadband. In general, co...


It is pretty much common to find people with doubts about choosing the best preferred plan and package for fixed broadband. In general, complaints and questions arise because of the low speeds provided. In fact, there is great inconsistency on download rates, because even paying for a 10Mb/s plan, the speed seems to be 10 times lower than contracted. From the point of view of the customer, the question is pretty simple. I'm paying for a connection of 10Mb/s, so my plan will enable downloads at a rate of 10 Mega Byte per second. But in reality, the story is a little different, because even with an internet connection like this, you'll see the file downloading at 1-1.5MB/s - or sometimes even much less than that.


And this is not just a rule for high-speed connections, the same problem exists for those who plan to pay for a 1Mb/s, or 5Mb/s connection or any other different internet connection. But then, why does it occur? We are victims of false advertising? How do I calculate the speed of my connection?

We have heard many questions regarding, “I am paying for 8Mb/s internet connection then why I am only getting 1024KB/s (1MB/s) download speed?”. This is an easy and common confusion among users caused because of unit transformation between Bits and Bytes as well as of wrong adverting of internet providers. So we put together everything you need to know in this regard.

Confusion In Unit Measurement

There are different ways to represent the size of a file. A MP3 music, for example, can obtain 5 megabytes, 5120 kilobytes or 5,242,880 bytes. All these three numbers represent the same thing, and the only point that really changes is the used Unit. The kilo represents 1,024 bytes, and mega is 1024 kilobytes. The idea of ​​such prefixes is to facilitate the representation of sizes, after all nobody says that a MP3 has 5 million bytes. However, in the case of Internet connections, these "megas" seem difficult to understand actual value.

This is because, in our daily lives, we are accustomed to bytes. When performing a download any software we review in ABC Trick, for example, your browser displays the speed in KB/s (kilobytes per second) or MB/s (megabytes per second).

However, for the sake of marketing, operators use the bits in advertising and somehow deceive the consumer. And what's the difference between a bit and a byte? Well, the bit is the smallest unit of information. A bit can assume the values of ​​0 and 1 digits used as the basis for the binary system. When 8 bits put together, we get 1 byte.

Thus, it is easy to understand that 1 byte is eight times greater than 1 bit (1 Byte = 8 Bit), and therefore, the bit is eight times smaller than the byte. Using the same MP3 music we quoted earlier by converting their size to bits, we get the total size of 41,943,040 bits, which, incidentally, is an eight times greater than 5,242,880.

Tricks By Operators

As the prefixes giga, mega and kilo apply to bytes, they can also be used with the bits. Therefore, 1 kilobit contains 1,024 bits, and 1 megabit is equal to 1,024 kilobits. As we are dealing with pure mathematics, the difference between 1 megabyte and 1 megabit is the same as 1 byte for 1 bit, ie megabyte is eight times larger than the megabit (1 Megabyte = 8 Megabit), as well as kilobyte is eight times greater than the kilobit. The rule applies to the giga, tera and other prefixes as well.


So, it is easy to understand why you pay for 10 megabyte and get only 1.25 megabyte speed, they are using bit in their speed measurement which is 8 times lower then your assumed value. In fact, operators are selling 10 mega, but it is never specified that this value is in bits. Deception happens precisely this confusion of units.

We, consumers, believe that the connections are in megabytes, but actually contracted speeds are eight times smaller, precisely because megabit is eight times smaller than the megabyte.

Calculating the Actual speed of your connection

Now that you've picked up the trick, it's easy to understand the speed of your connection and make the necessary calculations, but not to be no doubt, let's take an example:

  • Open your calculator and input the value of your operator's promised internet speed. I.e. guess you have paid for 10 mega package. Input 10 then.
  • Then use the division operation and divide 10 by 8.
  • Okay, now you know the actual speed of your connection, which is 1.25 megabytes.

If you paid for a plan of 512 kilobits, simply follow the same process, but keep in mind that the result will be in kilobytes.

Minimum Speed By Operators

Discovering all this is very important because then you do not get deceived with hopes of downloading anything with absurdly high speeds. However, we must stress that there is another thing should be shared in this story.


All the while, we speak only of your connection speeds can reach. However, your carrier is required to provide only 40% of the contract in our region, ie if your internet package is 10 megabits, the maximum speed you are going to get is 1.25MB/s, but the broadband company only has a duty to ensure the download speed at 500KB/s as minimum. According to the latest news, all operators should increase the minimum over the years, and soon it will be 50% and then 65%. However, it is noteworthy that maintaining these minimum speeds will not make your connection faster, because its maximum is not changed.

Well, now you understand better about this confusion of megabits and megabytes, now you really should look to the Traffic Shaping technique, a really dirty trick by internet providers. We recommend yourself to read Traffic Shaping : Better Understand The Technique & Learn What You Can Do To Prevent It. Now, tell us, what is the actual speed of your connection? Are you satisfied or thinking to change your plan or carrier? Leave your comment here.

[Infographic Source]


  1. Nice man! I knew some of this but you did a real job putting everything together.

    P.S: Why no updates in the recent few days? I have been checking your blog regularly but found no new post

  2. And oh!! the illustrations are amazing!


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