December 28th, 2020 [UPDATED]
Originally Published November 30th, 2018
Your Guide to Determining Bandwidth Requirements
As the world becomes more interconnected, our dependence on the Internet is becoming a non-negotiable business necessity. Most business applications that were formerly used offline or in a Local Area Network (LAN) now reside in the cloud, which means they are accessed and managed using the Internet. With vital business operations now hinging on Internet access, a fast, reliable network connection is more important than ever. While multiple factors can affect network performance, perhaps the most significant is network bandwidth.
What is bandwidth?
“Bandwidth” is a commonly used term to describe network speed. However, bandwidth does not quantify the speed at which data transmits through the network connection. Rather, bandwidth measures how much data can pass through the network in a fixed period. The significance of bandwidth on network performance depends upon the number of active devices connected to the network. The more devices connected – and actively using the Internet – means that more data is required to be accessible at any given moment.
Calculating Your Business’s Bandwidth Requirements
Business makers strive to achieve business objectives with the most value and efficiency possible. Understanding your company’s bandwidth requirements is an essential part of running a modern business (knowledge is power). For example, budgeting too little bandwidth could slow productivity, while oversubscribing can create an unnecessary operating expense (OpEx).
This article will help you understand how to calculate bandwidth requirements, or, at the very least, understand factors that drive the results of bandwidth requirement calculators.
How Many Employees Do You Have?
How many employees do you have that need Internet access? Current headcounts are easy to obtain, but you also need to project growth, which is a little more complicated. Being able to project staff growth is vital to understand future bandwidth needs.
For example, a business using a VoIP phone system that experiences a high call volume without enough bandwidth will find that’s its call quality becomes compromised. This, in turn, can negatively affect both sales performance and customer satisfaction.
Your broadband connection should be easily upgradeable and sufficiently scalable to meet your staffing projects for at least the coming two years. Redundancy also is vital when operations run from cloud applications, so be sure to have a backup connection to ensure business continuity if your company experiences outages or service disruptions.
How Many Active Workstations Does Your Business Have?
“Workstations” is a catchall term that has existed in the IT realm for many years. In the modern business environment, a mobile device may be considered a “workstation.” Many network-oriented IT teams are measuring the number of connected devices in the workplace. Be sure to include office phones that need Internet connectivity in your count. Even though their bandwidth requirements are not intensive, they should be factored into your bandwidth calculation.
Accuracy is essential when estimating the number of bandwidth-consuming devices on your network, but when in doubt (or just in case), overestimating is always better than underestimating.
Which Applications Are Running on Network Devices?
Even though many businesses still have systems infrastructure hosted on-site, many companies migrate their systems to the cloud. Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Human Resources Management (HRM), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) are reliably being used in the cloud not just by newer businesses but also in established companies seeking infrastructure-based competitive advantage. All of these trends increase the importance of reliable broadband connectivity.
Some applications are considerably more bandwidth-consumptive than others. Marketing departments that create social media videos and multimedia files require large amounts of bandwidth. For example, a typical 2- to 4-minute video could be between 500 MB and 1 GB, depending on the quality.
Is your Public Branch Exchange (PBX) or IP PBX on-site, or do you use a hosted PBX that resides in the cloud? How many employees are using such systems? Fortunately, most providers list the bandwidth requirement for their services, making for easy bandwidth-needs calculations.
As a rule of thumb, allow 1-1.5mbps for each workstation or device. Add another 25% if personal devices are connected. However, every case is different, you might need less, or you might need more, depending on your business activities.
The Need for a Disaster Recovery Plan
Having a backup Internet line is more imperative today than it has ever been. Access to a payment gateway or website can provide bare-minimum business continuity, but even this is inadequate for most businesses. Read more about disaster recovery planning in our blog, “Disaster Recovery Plan.” Considering the fires, hurricanes, pandemics, and other disruptions in recent years, business continuity planning could be a life-or-death difference for your company.
Redundancy key to successful business continuity during an outage, and planning for a backup connectivity and source carrier with a robust Service Level Agreement (SLA) like GeoLinks can be central to your success.
Understanding your bandwidth requirements is essential to successful business operations management, allowing you to make informed decisions on operating expenses (OpEx) based on accurate, reliable information. Your bandwidth requirement calculations should factor in employee headcount, the number of devices connected to your network, how many will require Internet access, and the types of applications used by those devices. Adding a 10% contingency for peace of mind, and planning for future expansion and business continuity, can help you successfully size your bandwidth needs.
Need Business Internet with Unlimited Bandwidth?
Named “Most Disruptive Technology” in the 2018 Central Coast Innovation Awards, GeoLinks’ ClearFiber™ network offers business-class fixed wireless Internet with guaranteed speeds (reaching up to 10 Gbps) and unlimited bandwidth. Backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support, we’re proud to offer the most resilient and scalable fixed wireless network on the market.
Need help calculating your bandwidth needs?
If you have any questions about calculating your bandwidth requirements, our service engineers will work with you to calculate the required bandwidth for your specific business needs.