No explanation of web hosting is complete without a mention of bandwidth. This refers to the capacity of a hosting company to satisfy the demand for its service. When the World Trade Centre towers in New York were attacked in 2001 the major news sites like and the BBC online service came to a standstill because they didn't have the capacity to deal with the sudden demand on their resources. It is important to be certain that a hosting provider has sufficient bandwidth available to meet your current and future needs, too little will mean slow loading pages and lost business.

Bandwidth is measured in kbps (kilo bits per second), which refers to the amount of information that can be processed in a second. Most people in South Africa connect using a 56K modem which means that they can achieve a theoretical speed of 56 kbps, the theoretical is important here because in reality due to congestion, poor phone lines and a variety of other reasons this speed is unlikely to be achieved.

A step up from the 56K modem is a 64K ISDN modem, this delivers a more consistent speed but requires a special modem and usually a set-up fee is charged for its installation. In South Africa at present, a couple of service providers are able to offer speeds of up to 128K through a wireless system that bypasses the copper phone lines to a certain extent and Telkom has launched broadband ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) in some parts of the country. This technology is already widespread in the USA, Europe and parts of Asia and will allow a permanent, 512K-connection (almost 10 times as fast as your 56K modem) to the Internet.

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