Megapixels and megabits per second; Myths and Misunderstandings


Go into a high street electronics retailer and look at the digital cameras. Nice aren't they.

Chances are you’ll see a shiny collection of desirable gadgetry made in brushed aluminium and steel. Each with a little plastic tag beside it. And I’ll wager that each and every one will tell you how many Megapixels the camera has. Megapixels seems to be the most important, sometimes the single metric determining the quality - and price - of a digital camera.

Or so it is in the high street retailers.

Because the high street retailers are selling largely to the amateur public. Everything is simplified and presented in boiled-down terms. A simple metric. The higher the number, the better the device. And the higher the price.

More or less.

Of course anyone who knows even a little about digital cameras knows that the resolution of the camera is only one variable which contributes to the quality of the photos it produces. A professional photographer pays attention to the lenses, the sensitivity of the sensor, the data compression quality, and many other things.

Choose a poor quality camera with a lot of megapixels and it’ll give you lots of poor quality pixels.
This is the difference between choosing something with the understanding and criteria of an amateur versus that of a professional.

Goodmill Systems are in the professional, critical broadband business. We don’t promote our solutions by citing one single-easy-to-understand-but-too-simplistic metric.

Like megabits per second, for example.

Megabits per second - the speed or throughput of a connection - does not alone assure you of good connectivity or good service delivery. Assuring adequate service delivery when it really matters, to professional users is the combination and balancing (and yes sometimes even the trade-offs) of many different variables which together determine the behavior and characteristics of the end to end connection. Getting it right and making sure that critical connections are always on when they need to be on requires a detailed understanding of mobile networking, well engineered hardware and software, and a configuration all matched for the actual case.

There is no out-of-the-box, plug-n-play solution which produces an optimal setup for everyone. Anything plug-n-play will be, by definition, sub-optimal for many use cases. I would assert that anyone who claims otherwise just doesn't understand the problem well, or hasn't thought about it enough.

Throughput, expressed typically in Megabits-per-second (Mbps), like a camera Megapixels, is only one metric associated with a broadband connection. And it’s not the most important. Not for professional critical users.

A professional user who knows her business, knows her networks, knows her users and knows the services which they need, also knows the characteristics which define those services. As long as the connection to the vehicle is fast enough then the bandwidth ceases to be the most important metric of the system. Moreover, even if there isn’t enough bandwidth the telecom professional knows how to prioritize her traffic. She understands what is important, what is critical, what is really critical, and what is absolutely-cannot-do-without-critical. This is the business of running a professionally delivered telecom service. The connectivity solution needs to support those categorizations and take them into account when bandwidth is lacking, which it surely sometimes will be.

As said already, Goodmill Systems is in the professional, critical broadband business. Our understanding of professional, critical communications has shaped our solution and the way we deliver it to our customers. Of course we don’t ignore megabits per second as a metric; but it’s not the sole, single metric by which we measure how good our system is. We understand that for professional users availability, security and resilience are equally if not more important. And a singular emphasis on squeezing every bit per second out of the system is for amateurs.

Is you have professional mobile broadband needs, look us up at Goodmill Systems. With us you're Always Online.

Ged Robinsson
Region Director
Goodmill Systems Ltd.