In case you’re completely confused about the internet speeds information and requirements written on different data plans or within the apps, don’t worry. Firstly, you’re just one of many people, even within the industry, who find all this unit business quite confusing, and secondly, this article will explain what is what in a way that is simple and easy to understand.
Kilo, Mega, Giga, Tera
Kbps stands for kilobits per second, while Mbps stands for Megabits per second. They are both metric measurements and quantify how many bits can be sent or received in one second.
But, before we dive more deeply into data transfer, let’s explain the order of magnitude, what is bigger than what, and by how much.
The smallest unit of data is one bit. One bit is a logical, binary state. That logical state can be only 1 or 0 and nothing else. One bit can also be represented as 1b. One thousand bits equals one Megabit, and each following unit contains one thousand previous ones. It goes like this:
1000 bits = 1 kilobit (or Kbit)
1000 kilobits = 1 megabit (Mbit)
1000 megabits = 1 gigabit (Gbit)
1000 gigabits = 1 terabit (Tbit)
1000 terabits = 1 petabit (Pbit)
1000 petabits = 1 exabit (Ebit)
1000 exabits = 1 zettabit (Zbit)
1000 zettabits = 1 yottabit (Ybit)
However, since the people in the IT industry really love saving space and confusing people, they love to show the data in incorrect form, so they kick out the “-it” and display only Kb, Mb, Tb, and so on.
At this point, you can already tell that the kilobit is one thousand times smaller unit than the megabit.
To put it in the perspective of this article’s title, 1 Mbps = 1000 kbps.
If we were to write this down following the standard, it would look like this: 1 Mbit/s = 1000 kbit/s.
If you see it written down one way or another, don’t worry. It means the same thing.
As if that was not confusing enough, another commonly used set of units is quite similar to what we have already described.
Bit and Byte
One Byte is a set of eight bits, represented by a capital B. The computer’s memory capacity is usually displayed using bytes, but it also shows data transfer speeds. Manufacturers don’t use bytes very often because the speeds will display a lower number next to the unit and people always assume that more is better.
In this case, it would be a wrong assumption, and here is why:
1 Byte (or 1B) = 8bits (or 8b)
1 kilobyte (or 1 kB) = 1000 bytes = 8 kilobits ( 8 000 bits)
1 Megabyte (1 MB) = 1000 kilobytes = 8 megabits (8 000 kbits)
1 Gigabyte = 1000 Megabytes = 8 Gigabits (8 000 Mbits) and so on, you get the point.
So, you see, if you’re talking to your non-techy friend, and he suggests you shouldn’t take the internet plan with 100 MB/s download speeds, but take the same package as he with 250 Mbps speed instead, you should stick to your choice.(100 MB/s = 100 Megabytes/second = 800 Mbps).
Kilo and Kibi
Along the units described above, based on the power of 10, there are also units based on the power of two.
They are not so widely used these days outside a few specific niches within the IT industry, but you may come across some equipment or app that displays data transfer speeds or memory in kibibit.
Unlike the metric system, where 1 kilobit = 1000 bits, 1 kibibit (or 1 kibit) = 1024 bits. Consequently, 1 Mebibit = 1024 kibibit and so on.
And just like in with bits and Bytes, 1 kibibyte = 8 kibibit.
So, in case you come across kibibits somewhere, just round up the number, and you’ll be close enough to the value in kilobits.
To answer the question from the title of this article in one sentence: one kbps is one thousand times slower than the one Mbps.
Different manufacturers and internet service providers use different units for advertising the speeds of their products. Many people, especially older generations, don’t know the difference between the bits and bytes, just like they are unsure what is larger- kilo or mega. To trigger consumers’ psychology, they sometimes choose units with a larger number in front.
In other words, they assume they will make a more significant impression on a potential buyer if they say that their product can transfer data at 100 000 kbps rather than 100 Mbps or 12,5 MB/s. All three of these numbers show equal performance, so don’t let yourself get confused by the tricks of their marketing departments.
We hope this article explained to you the difference between different units and than you will now be able to tell them apart and avoid confusion. If some of this information doesn’t stick after the first read, return and go through it again.
Hey, I’m Jeremy. I hold a bachelor’s degree in information systems, and I’m a certified network specialist. I worked for several internet providers in LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Seattle over the past 21 years.
I worked as a customer service operator, field technician, network engineer, and network specialist. During my career in networking, I’ve come across numerous modems, gateways, routers, and other networking hardware. I’ve installed network equipment, fixed it, designed and administrated networks, etc.
Networking is my passion, and I’m eager to share everything I know with you. On this website, you can read my modem and router reviews, as well as various how-to guides designed to help you solve your network problems. I want to liberate you from the fear that most users feel when they have to deal with modem and router settings.
My favorite free-time activities are gaming, movie-watching, and cooking. I also enjoy fishing, although I’m not good at it. What I’m good at is annoying David when we are fishing together. Apparently, you’re not supposed to talk or laugh while fishing – it scares the fishes.