I've already referred to this question & all the answers to this question: Bandwidth vs Throughput vs Data(bit) rate

I'm still confused about all the terms especially due to the last paragraph where they define bit-rate with respect to a host & not as a characteristic of the channel.

Note: I refer to Bandwidth in Networking (CS Lingo) & NOT in EE Lingo (CS vs EE definations of bandwidth)

I've got varied answers on the internet which is really confusing. These are just some sources that I referred:

  1. Rate vs Throughput vs Capacity
  2. Bandwidth vs Data Rate
  3. Bandwidth vs Throughput

So, what exactly is the difference between the terms Rate, Capacity, Throughput, Bandwidth ?

PS: I do know what goodput is. Goodput - Wiki Defination

  • Maybe an example makes it clearer to you: a host is linked with 1 Gbit/s (interface speed = data rate), uses 100 Mbit/s of bandwidth for a connection, with a throughput of 95 Mbit/s - 5 Mbit/s is overhead (and possibly packet loss).
    – Zac67
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 9:44
  • What about capacity? Also, I don't know exactly what interface speed means. Maybe point to a resource or explain it?
    – schegu
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 9:48
  • Capacity is the ability to handle a certain load/bandwidth. Some firewall may be linked with 1 Gbit/s but only have the capacity to process 300 Mbit/s. Serial interfaces such as network links run at a certain speed - for Ethernet, that's 10, 100, 1000, 2500, 5000, 10,000, 25,000, 40,000, 50,000, 100,000, 200,000 or 400,000 Mbit/s.
    – Zac67
    Commented Dec 15, 2020 at 10:15
  • Did any answer help you? if so, you should accept the answer so that the question doesn't keep popping up forever, looking for an answer. Alternatively, you could post and accept your own answer.
    – Ron Maupin
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 5:19
  • No. There's only one answer given & I'm not convinced.
    – schegu
    Commented Dec 31, 2020 at 7:36

1 Answer 1


Network engineering simply is not a well defined discipline like other applied sciences. It would be nice if everyone had a technical editor to make sure they were using terms consistently, but we don't. So people sometimes speak (or write) imprecisely.

Bottom Line:

In most cases, Interface Speed, Bandwidth, Line Rate, and Data Rate all mean the same thing.

When you begin to talk in detail about the physical properties of a circuit or device, you tend to move from networking to electrical engineering, and then terms start to diverge a bit. As you noted above the term Bandwidth has a slightly different meaning if you're using it from a networking perspective or an electrical engineering perspective.

The confusion you have regarding hosts in the answer you referenced, is a matter of which data you're measuring. You can measure the bit rate of all the data that is flowing through a point (for example, a device interface), or you can just measure that date going to one specific host (a sender can be sending data to more than one recipient).

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