Bandwidth and Data Rates

The terms bandwidth and data rates are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact very different if you work in the cabling world. Your internet provider may advertise a bandwidth of 500 megabits per second (Mbps). In that case, they actually mean data rate. In the cabling world, bandwidth is a property of the cable – its ability to transmit a signal that’s intelligible at the far end. Any signal put on a copper or fiber link will degrade as it gets to the far end. This is a result of simple loss, but also more complex factors such as return loss (reflections), and in the case of copper, crosstalk. Vendors design their copper and fiber cabling to be able to deliver these raw signals (bandwidth) at higher rates.

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