In computer networking, the term bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that can be carried between two telecommunication points in a given period of time, with the time measured in seconds. In terms of digital applications, bandwidth is normally measured in bits or bytes per second. For example, a network with Gigabit Ethernet capabilities has a 1 gigabit per second or 1,000Mbp/s bandwidth capability. So theoretically, at the most, one gigabit of data (unit of information) could travel each second across a network path. Bandwidth is used to describe the volume of information that can be transmitted over communication mediums like the Internet. The term can also reference network or device capabilities, such as the bandwidth on a network switch.

Bandwidth in a Cat 6 Connection

Bandwidth is not a measurement of speed but a set specification of how much data can flow through a connection during a specific time. A larger amount of data can flow each second through a higher frequency Cat6 connection. With Category 6, data communications can operate at twice the standard frequency of Cat5e. Cat6 cable frequency is 250 MHz, while Cat5e bandwidth is rated at a 100MHz performance. (Some Cat5e cable is rated for 350MHz.) The frequency of Cat 6a cable jumps to 500 MHz.

Maximum Data Transfer Rate

In contrast to bandwidth, a maximum data transfer rate is the time required for a data transfer to complete. It is determined by measuring the period from when the data departs until it reaches a destination point, as in the time that passes between a file leaving its origination and being fully downloaded. This transmission rate can be affected by a number of factors relating to the network.