There are various characteristics of the data transmission such as speed, bandwidth, latency, throughput, jitter, error rate, etcetera. In this content, we are going to discuss two of the major characteristics – bandwidth and throughput. Bandwidth is the total amount of speed that can be achieved by a transmission line. Conversely, throughput is the actual amount of speed that we get in data transmission after experiencing various type of losses.
There is another factor, (i.e., interface) which comes into play in case of bandwidth. In simple terms, bandwidth is the rate at which the information is transmitted using an interface. Throughput has nothing to do with the interface, it is the rate at which the two entities involved in the communication may transfer bits end-to-end over the communication medium.
As the terms are highly related, hence often used interchangeably. We will understand the difference between bandwidth and throughput in further discussion.
Content: Bandwidth Vs Throughput
|Basis for comparison
|Data capacity travelled through a channel.
|Practical measure of how much data actually flows through a channel.
|Relevance to layer
|Physical layer property
|Measured at any layer in the OSI model
|Average rate is measured according to bandwidth
|Does not depend on the latency
|Depends on the latency
|Transmission of information by some means
|Communication between two entities
Definition of Bandwidth
Bandwidth can be defined as the theoretical potential of the data that is to be transmitted in a specified period of time. In a simple way, it is the data carrying capacity of the network or the data transmission medium. Bandwidth is originally derived from the study of electromagnetic radiation where it specifies the width of the band of frequencies utilized to carry data.
At present bandwidth is used in the two senses, frequency bandwidth and data capacity. For example, wireless technologies use radio frequencies where the width of the radio frequency band defines the bandwidth of such technology. In a general manner, bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can be transferred through a network. For instance, the bandwidth access of the broadband would be higher than the regular analog modem.
Definition of Throughput
Throughput is the determination of how much data is actually transferred during a time period through a network, interface or channel. It is also known as effective data rate or payload rate. It is a practical unit which measures the actual traffic that passes through under certain conditions. The bandwidth or the rated speed is the restricting factor for throughput, which is further explained by an example. Suppose, the rated speed of the ethernet is 100 Mbps then the extreme upper limit for the throughput is 100 Mbps. However, the practical speed that can be achieved would be quite less.
Key Differences Between Bandwidth and Throughput
- Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of the data that can be passed from one point to another. On the other hand, throughput is considered as the actual measurement of the data that is able to move through the media at any given time.
- The physical layer is used to specify the bandwidth while throughput can be measured at each layer of the OSI model.
- When we talk about computer or internet we usually come across the term bit as the measuring unit of the data. Similarly, the bandwidth is measured in bits. As opposed to bandwidth the throughput has no specific unit for its measurement, it is measured by calculating the average bandwidth. Therefore, it is also measured in terms of bits transferred per second (bps).
- The bandwidth is not affected by physical obstruction as it a theoretical unit to some extent. On the contrary, throughput can be easily affected by an increase in interference, network traffic, network devices, transmission errors and the host of other variants.
The concept of bandwidth and throughput can be explained by a real-life example of the water tap. The speed at which water comes out from the valve would vary in accordance with the opening of the valve. Here, the “bandwidth” of the tap is the speed at which water is coming out and “throughput” is the total amount of water that comes out.
The terms bandwidth and throughput are distinguished by the effect of the flow control protocols. However, the bandwidth and throughput can be similar when the speed of sending and receiving interfaces and the communication medium is equal, and the data is transferred in a consistent manner.