I am with the British ISP Plusnet

I ran the Ofcom speed test which confirmed my speeds are as advertised:

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However, when I download in Steam I only get the following (even when unchecking limits on download speeds)

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I thought it might be the transfer speed to my harddrive so I tried on my SSD and it is no quicker. What's going on? Am I being throttled?

  • 11
    You can change Steam to show download speed in megabits in the program settings which will remove the confusion.
    – Mokubai
    Jul 2, 2020 at 9:30
  • 1
    Solely since nobody else has made the explicit point, note also the important distinction between "37.0 Mbps" and "4.6 MB/s": B is bytes, b is bits. Case is important.
    – MadHatter
    Jul 5, 2020 at 5:56

1 Answer 1


You're confusing megabits and megabytes

Your line is 37 megabits/s Mbps
Your measured download is 4.6 megabytes/s MBps

37mbps = 4.625MBps so you are getting what you pay for.

See https://www.gbmb.org/mbps-to-mbs

  • 2
    ISPs like to sell you megabits because it makes the number bigger. (Also because every other ISP does it)
    – user253751
    Jul 2, 2020 at 19:01
  • 2
    just for completeness: 8 bits in a byte. bytes to bits multiply by eight; bits to bytes divide by 8
    – Yorik
    Jul 2, 2020 at 20:29
  • 23
    @user253751 I share your general cynicism, but communication system speeds have always been compared by their Baud rate (symbol rate), which in digital systems is generally the same thing as their bitrate, and not their "byterate" - that's because the number of binary digits physically sent down the line will be different than the number of meaningful bits and bytes actually sent (e.g. due to low-level frame/packet overhead, error detection codes like Hamming, and channel bonding).
    – Dai
    Jul 2, 2020 at 22:06
  • 2
    @user253751 They sell it like that because that's how networking hardware works. Converting to Megabytes is mostly for convenience of regular people, who don't understand the "bits" part of computers. Same reason Hard Drive manufacturers advertise capacity in powers of 10, even though computers use powers of 2, ie. a 1 Terabyte hard drive will have ~931 GB of capacity.
    – SnakeDoc
    Jul 2, 2020 at 22:44
  • 4
    @Yorik, for networking purposes, I find it useful to divide by ten rather than eight when converting from bits to bytes. It's easier, and accounts for framing, error correction, and other inefficiencies that take up bandwidth, but don't count towards the actual data transferred.
    – Mark
    Jul 3, 2020 at 2:08

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