Ah, the wonders of technology. You’ve got bits, bytes, kilo, mega, giga, tera…and all the associated abbreviations that go along with them!
Put simply, Kbps, KBps, and Mbps are all measures of network speed (e.g. data rate). Each of these abbreviations is linked to a measure of size, and references that particular size in terms of transfer speed (i.e. bit or byte transferred per second). These terms and abbreviations are most commonly used to measure network speed, such as download or upload speeds. This is sometimes referred to as “bandwidth” as well.
Most Common Abbreviations
Kbps = Kilobits per second (Kb/s)
KBps = KiloBytes per second (KB/s) *note the capital B! this can also be written as kB/s*
Mbps = Megabits per second (Mb/s)
MBps = MegaBytes per second (MB/s)
Gbps = Gigabit per second (Gb/s)
There is a HUGE difference between either Kbps and KBps, or Mbps and MBps. That big B makes a really BIG difference! Why? Because it changes from bit to byte…and that is a significant change in size. There are 8 bits in a byte, so something measured in Kilobit per second (Kbps) is much different than something measured in Kilobyte per second (KBps).
You can find nice calculators to do conversions online via Google, but here is a general formula:
1000Kilobit/sec (kbps) = 125KiloByte/sec (KBps) = 1Megabit/sec (Mbps)
Most internet service providers will rate their bandwidth in terms of either Mbps (megabit per second) or KB/sec (kilobyte per second). See how they jump from bit to byte? Yeah, they do that to confuse you!
The easiest way to complete a conversion is to refer to the above basic conversion formula. Or you can enter the conversion into a calculator. Our favorite is the unit converter from Numion because of its simplicity.
Be very careful when using the Google search box to do the conversion. For example, if you enter the phrase “1.5Mbps to KB/s”, the answer returned is 192KB/sec. This is WRONG. 1.5Megabit per second (Mbps) is actually 187.5KiloBytes per second (KBps). This is equally wrong if you ask Google, “2048Kbps to Mbps” and the answer returned is 2Mbps. The correct answer is 2.048Mbps. There are 1000kilobits in a megabit. Google still gets it wrong if you spell it out, “1megabit per second to kilobytes per second” because the answer it returns is 128kilobyte per second. The correct answer is that 1megabit per second is equal to 125kilobytes per second.
Why is Google doing this wrong? It’s simple really, because there is still a TON OF CONFUSION over these measures, the abbreviations, and the conversions. This is generally due to one of the following reasons:
-Incorrect use of the abbreviation (i.e. using a big B for bit instead of a little b)
-Confusing SI and BI (i.e. forgetting that kilo = 1000, but there are 1024 bits in a kilobyte, not 1000)
-Interchanging the conversions for networks with those for capacity (i.e. 1000bps for 1kbps versus 1024bytes for 1kilobyte)
-Not understanding the difference between K and Ki abbreviations since Ki is still very new (one is SI, while the other is BI)
-Having no clue there is such a thing as Mebi-byte and Mega-byte, and both can be abbreviated as MB
The correct way to do the conversion from Kilobit per second to KiloByte per second is to take the Kilobit per second number and divide it by 8. Why? Because there are 8 bits in a byte. For example, 1000Kilobits per second divided by 8 equals 125KiloBytes per second.
The correct way to do the conversion from Kilobit per second to Megabit per second is to take the Kilobit per second number and divide it by 1000. Why? Because there are 1000Kilobits in a Megabit. For example, 5000Kilobits per second divided by 1000 equals 5Megabits per second.
The correct way to do the conversion from Megabit per second to KiloByte per second is to first take the Megabit per second number and divide it by 8. Then, take that result and multiply it by 1000. Why? Because there are 8 bits in a byte, and 1000 kilobits per second in a megabit. For example, 5Megabits per second divided by 8 equals .625. Multiply this by 1000 and you get 625. So 5Megabits per second equals 625KiloBytes per second.
The correct way to do the conversion from Megabit per second to MegaByte per second is to take the Megabit per second number and divide it by 8. Why? Because again, there are 8 bits in a byte. For example, 8Megabits per second divided by 8 equals 1MegaByte per second. Get it?