Transmission Speed Definition & Meaning

Transmission speed is the rate at which data packets cross a computer network from one server to another. Transmission speed is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps), which equals one million bits per second, although gigabit and even terabit speeds are becoming common. The speed of light is considered the ideal rate of data transmission; transmission speed across cables or wires is a fraction or percent of that.

Transmission speed depends on:

  • The wires or cables used in the network. They vary in Mbps.
  • The distance between two servers, the sending and receiving points. Distance can severely affect transmission speed, to the point of great financial detriment if a company’s network connection is just a little too slow, for example.
  • The number of packets being transmitted across a network. Many requests on a network can slow it.

Security and transmission speed

Latency refers to the length of time it takes a network to process data packets. The size of a packet and the distance between servers affects latency, but so can encryption. Data that’s transmitted across a network should be secured as well. Some network scientists propose that networks make containers, which hold network frames so that only packet sizes that fit the frame can be transmitted at the same time. But the way the packets are all transmitted together and encrypted in a single frame makes data transfer more efficient. Some of the overhead (extra computing resources) is eliminated when packets are transmitted in containers.

Encryption and other security measures, then, don’t have to increase latency. Data packets should just be packaged efficiently and encrypted for better management of computing resources.

Transmission speed versus bandwidth

Bandwidth, a commonly used term to describe network capacity, describes the amount of data that a network can or does transmit at a given time. Transmission speed, on the other hand, describes the rate at which the data is sent over the network. They are related terms in networking, but bandwidth better defines what volume of data transmission a network can handle, while transmission speed reveals how quickly the network can send that data.

Transmission speed and edge computing

As the distance between a server transmitting data and the server receiving it affects transmission speed, the move to edge computing putting servers at the edge of a network and closer to devices would mean less distance for packets to cross. Lower latency is a priority for networks; implementing better edge technology would allow faster transmission speed. 5G networks would have the same benefit.

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a contributor for websites such as and Enterprise Storage Forum. She writes about information technology security, networking, and data storage. Jenna lives in Nashville, TN.

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