How Much Bandwidth Do I Need?

    computer confusion 1One of the things that every business needs is an internet connection. While those come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, one of those most common specifications you’ll see mentioned when comparing services is the speed or bandwidth rating (300mbs, gigabit, etc…). While that’s not the only thing you should be looking at (you should also be thinking about latency and reliability, but that’s another conversation for another time), it’s still a very important metric. So how much bandwidth do you really need?

    The answer is a bit complicated as it all really depends on what you’re doing on the internet. Generally, higher speed is always better, but it’s not always needed. If you have a lot of local servers and don’t get out to the Internet much, then you don’t need a ton of bandwidth. But if you use a lot of cloud apps, do a bunch of Teams video meetings or run a bunch of online backups and file transfers, you are going to need a fatter internet pipe.

    Take for example Microsoft’s guidance for Teams. They recommend at least 4,000kbs (or 4mbs) download and upload speed for each person in a video meeting (you’ll want to check the Upload speed in the offerings, as that’s not always the same as the download speed). Assuming you have 25 folks in your company that could potentially be in a meeting at one time, that’s 100mbs just for Teams. And that’s assuming you’re not doing anything else online at all. Recommendations for Zoom are similar.

    You basically need to think of all the various things in your company are going to be doing online. According to the FCC Speed Guide, here are the minimum speeds you need for one person to work properly. So take these numbers you get here, multiply that by the number of folks and/or devices (whichever number is higher) accessing your internet connection at once, and you’ll have the bare minimum you’ll need (as you should always plan for growth (all speeds are in megabits-per-second):

    • General Browsing and Email: 1
    • Streaming Online Radio: 0.5
    • VoIP Calls: 0.5
    • File Downloading: 10
    • Social Media: 1
    • Video Teleconferencing: 6
    • Streaming Ultra HD 4K Video: 25

    And remember, these numbers are base line recommendations. You’ll probably want to plan for growth, so take the numbers you gather above and start with those, add say 20% for growth, and go from there.

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