Glossary

Gigabit

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gigabit GbGigabit is abbreviated as Gb with a lowercase “b”, as opposed to gigabyte, which is written as GB with an uppercase “B”.

Gigabit is a unit of digital information equal to 1,000 megabits (10^9  bits). It is typically used to measure data exchanged over a network. For example, network interface cards are often described as providing “Gigabit Ethernet” when the transfer speeds supported are one or more gigabits per second (Gbps).

Back before the Internet became accessible by everyday consumers, and long before the World Wide Web, consumers accessed online communities via a dial up modem. In the 1980s the access speeds of those dial up connections were only around 300 baud – baud is another term for bits per second. They progressed to 1200 baud, then 2400, and continued to increase until 56kbps which is 56000 baud.

By contrast, gigabit Internet provides online access over 17,000 times faster than the fastest dial-up modem. There are a few places that you can currently get access to Gigabit Internet. Most ISPs provide Internet access speeds in terms of megabits per second (Mbps), but there are services that offer the Gbps connections speeds. These are most often used in business applications, though some companies are expanding the offer to consumers.

Google Fiber is currently being rolled out in the US bringing 1 Gbps access to three cities so far. Other cities are planned, but which they are is a mystery to everyone but Google.

In the UK, BT is rolling out limited gigabit Internet access. Other smaller startups are also popping up offering gigabit access speeds as well.

Here’s an article about BT’s trial of a 10 gigabit broadband service in Cornwall as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

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