Every time employees send or receive data online they need bandwidth. Like time and money, bandwidth is a scarce resource in many offices. After all, computers and digital devices rely on bandwidth to complete tasks online.
Bandwidth is the amount of information that can be sent or received per second. This might be measured in Kbps (thousands of bits per second) or Mbps (millions of bits per second). Many people think having a higher bandwidth will mean a faster user experience. In fact, it’s only one factor that affects response time. Bandwidth is actually about capacity more than speed.
Eight bits of information is one byte. A byte is the amount of memory it takes to store one character, such as the letter "Q."
You can’t drive fast on a one-lane road when there’s a lot of traffic. You also can’t navigate the information highway as quickly in online congestion. If you’re the only one in the office late at night, you’ll have no trouble trying to stream an online webinar, but you might struggle to stream the same webinar when sales are on a video conference call and advertising are sending a graphic-heavy email.
What Is Using Bandwidth?
There is greater demand on bandwidth every day. Your business migrated to cloud services for greater mobility and online consistency, but sharing information in real time requires bandwidth usage to synchronize data.
Backing up to the cloud provides businesses with greater peace of mind, yet it can be a headache if that backup is happening right when you want to get on a video chat with a client – your connection can suffer. You’ll be that person who keeps dropping in and out of that important meeting!
When you’re using an online meeting tool (audio or video), you can also slow things down for others.
Even email needs bandwidth to send and receive data. The bigger the files (e.g. images or spreadsheets?), the more bandwidth activity. Uploading a few PDFs can take up 20–40Mb of the total, which can choke a network with limited upload capacity.
All those personal devices your people are bringing to work can make a difference, too. Smartphones will often start backing up to the cloud when they are on a Wi-Fi network.
Bandwidth Usage Solutions
Often, there is no option for greater bandwidth because the infrastructure where you’re located won’t support greater bandwidth. You’re already getting the most capacity your provider can offer.
Still, there are ways to better manage bandwidth:
Switch to a business-grade router or a Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance. These allow you to identify and manage bandwidth usage better. They also add security (firewalls, filtering) to your network connection.
Set up Quality of Service (QoS) to rank the activities your business values more (e.g. configuring video conferencing to take data preference ahead of file downloads).
Block some devices entirely, such as employee phones backing up to the cloud.