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Blog // Connect Ohio

Megabytes, Gigabytes, Megabits, and Gigabits, oh my!

By Lindsay Shanahan

This week, Connect Ohio released its latest update to Ohio’s statewide broadband inventory maps. For the first time, these maps show that nearly 6.8% of Ohio households have access to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) service. But, what exactly does this mean? While megabytes, gigabytes, megabits, and gigabits are commonly used terms in the world of technology, all have different meanings and it’s helpful to understand the distinctions. 

Megabytes and Gigabytes

Megabytes and gigabytes are terms generally used to describe disk space, data storage space, and system memory.  A few short years ago, a megabyte was considered to be a generous amount of data.  One megabyte is equivalent to approximately four, 200-page books.  Today, it is more common for computers to have a 500 gigabyte hard drive - a tremendous difference and demonstration of modern advances in technology.  It takes 1,000 megabytes to make 1 gigabyte.  According to a recent article, one gigabyte alone can hold the contents of about 10 yards of books on a shelf and 100 gigabytes can hold the amount of information equivalent to an entire library floor of academic journals!  

Megabits and Gigabits

Megabits and gigabits are used to describe and measure data transfer rates of computer networks or telecommunications systems. Basically, megabits and gigabits refer to the speed of transmission and data transfer speed, typically per second (megabit per second or Mbps and Gigabit per second or Gbps). For example, in January of this year, the Federal Communications Commission defined “advanced broadband” to be 25 Mbps download/3 Mbps upload.

What is notable about gigabit service now being available in Ohio is that this broadband connectivity speed is approximately 100 times faster than the average fixed high-speed Internet. Such advances in broadband access evidence Ohio providers’ investment in increased capacity and the state’s commitment to remaining technologically competitive on a national scale.



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