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The internet speed at NASA

by daisy
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As the internet improves around the world we are constantly told stories about faster and faster connections. Many countries today now offer 1Gbps connections to customers as standard. Yet when the news went viral that NASA had an internet speed around 91Gbps the world was in awe. While NASA does have a great internet connection, this story was not true. Read on to find out why.

The short answer is that someone misunderstood a NASA publication, turned into a meme and confused the world. NASA was actually conducting an experiment on its private network between two machines. The packet sent through had no other activity to contend with so it was the highest possible speed that could be recorded and was not on the open internet. This alone makes the speed uncomparable with what we use in our homes. 

The second key point is what is being measured. Internet speeds as we know them are measured in bits, not bytes. 8 bits is equal to 1 byte. The NASA experiment registered a speed of 91 gigabits per second, not 91 gigabytes. This is still about 13,000 times faster than the average home. While the connection was incredibly fast it was over a private uncontested network. It does make the tested connection much faster than the average home but should be seen as a lab experiment not as a real-life use case. 

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In reality, what would we do with a connection speed of 91 Gbps anyway? Unless you have large data packets like NASA may, a 1Gbps connection will definitely suffice. There is a point where we no longer need faster internet service and at 1Gbps we have likely already reached it. That is until 16k content starts to be streamed across the internet but that is a long time away. Nasa on the other hand likely has to send an incredible amount of information at one time across its network so likely needed to test what the maximum speed limits were.

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