Rashmi Bhardwaj | Blog,Security

AT first glance throughput vs bandwidth may appear to be same, like both having same measurement unit of bps, however both the terms are quite dissimilar with differences in table below –

1Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can travel through a link or network.
Throughput is the actual amount of data that can be transferred through a network.
2Bandwidth is always measured as physical layer property.
Throughput can be measured at any layer in OSI model.
3A data rate measured in bits per second.
Average rate of successful message delivery over a communication channel. These data may be delivered over a physical or logical link, or pass through a certain network node
4Bandwidth does not depend on latency on link
Throughput depends on latency on the link.
5Theoretical performance
Real World performance

Download the difference table here.

Bandwidth  actually gives the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted through a link or channel. Bandwidth does not consider latency and protocols type while considering the traffic traversing the link.

Throughput is defined as rate of successful information delivery over a communication link. That is the actual amount of data that gets transmitted back and forth from computer, through the Internet to the web server in a single unit of time. Several factors like delay, physical media and hardware capabilities can effect this reduction in the bandwidth. Protocols type and latency of link play a pivotal role in deciding throughput which is unlike in case of bandwidth.



A simple example of cars traversing a bridge would explain the difference in a better way.

1 car is taken equivalent to 1 bit of traffic

3 cars (3 bits) can simultaneously cross the bridge in half a second. This makes total of 6 cars (2 * 3 cars) that can cross the bridge in 1 second. Theoretically calculating, bandwidth of the bridge will be 6 bits per second (6 cars per second)

However the real conditions may differ. There are pits and speed breakers on the bridge which may incur delay and allow only  3 cars to take 1 second to cross the bridge .Now, considering the real conditions and delay caused by the road the throughput of traffic will be 3 bits per second (3 cars per second)

Summary –

Bandwidth of traffic transmitted over the bridge = 6 bps

Throughput of traffic transmitted over the bridge = 3 bps

Both the terms may be defined as below –

Bandwidth == Maximum of the transmission media (Theoretically).
Throughput == Time taken to transmit given size of data (Real World)


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