Tip of the Week: Understanding Bandwidth
I have a question for you: when did you last examine the bandwidth that your business Internet package provides you? This is a very important consideration to make, for the sake of your productivity. This week, we’ll offer a few tips on how the proper bandwidth can help you get much more out of your IT solutions.
What is Bandwidth?
On a very basic level, bandwidth is simply how quickly you can download content from the Internet, measured in megabits per second, or Mbps. The higher the bandwidth, the faster these downloads will run.
Think about it like this: you’re trying to move water from one bucket to another. You have two tools you can use to do so, a fire hose, or a straw. Which connection will move the water more quickly?
If you answered the hose, you understand how bandwidth works. Just like the fire hose can move more water than a straw can, a larger bandwidth can move more megabits in the same amount of time. Some high-speed connections can even be measured in Gigabits per second.
How Does Bandwidth Translate to Download Speed?
Calculating your projected download speed is fairly simple, as long as you keep in mind that there are 8 bits for every byte. This means that, if you were trying to download 8 megabytes of data on a 1 Mbps connection, it would take approximately 1 second. 512 megabytes would take just over a minute to download on the same connection.
How Do I Know What My Business Needs?
In order to accurately estimate your business’ required bandwidth, a little more math is in order. While other factors, like connection reliability, should also be considered, your approximate bandwidth needs are relatively simple to calculate.
First, you will need to have the estimated traffic that each of your processes take up, as well as the total users that are likely to be engaged in that process. You will want to assume that this is during peak operations, so you don’t inadvertently short-change your business. Naturally, the bandwidth required by different processes will vary, but the following is generally the case:
100Kbps and Under - Low-end, single-line VoIP phones and e-fax machines. Some basic-use computers and laptops may utilize under 100 Kbps, but this isn’t often the case in businesses.
100Kbps to 500Kbps - It is much more common for computers and laptops to fall within this range, as they are more often used for streaming and downloading, emailing, and more rigorous browsing.
500Kbps to 2.0Mbps - If your business utilizes cloud solutions and (standard definition) video conferencing, you’re likely taking up this much bandwidth. This is commonly the range that Enterprise Resource Planning solutions, Customer Resource Management platforms, and Point of Sale devices will bring your bandwidth to as well.
2.0Mbps and Up - This bandwidth is usually called for by a high-definition conferencing solution, a lot of remote access, heavy cloud access, and more.
Now, still keeping peak activities in mind, add up what your staff is likely to need. Let’s say you have a total of 10 users in your business, including yourself. Let’s also say that you’re always on your email, corresponding with your business contacts and using 450Kbps. Six of your employees are engaged with the CRM solution they utilize, each using 2.0Mbps, and the last three are involved in a high-def video conference, each leveraging 2.5Mbps.
Totaling these use cases up, your business can expect to use almost 20Mbps at heaviest use - although it may make the most sense to assume everyone was attending a video conference, totaling 25Mbps, just to be safe.
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