Video conferencing by businesses has soared during the pandemic, as so much communication has moved online. And its usage isn’t expected to go away once the pandemic ends.


As video conferencing becomes a normal and significant part of operations, it’s important to consider whether your company’s internet service provides adequate speed and bandwidth to support it.


By itself, video conferencing is unlikely to overwhelm your network. But it does require significant bandwidth—and it’s just one of your bandwidth needs. You’ll need to consider all of those needs when determining the best internet plan for your business.


Video conferencing bandwidth requirements

All network activity requires bandwidth, but some activities require more than others. To work properly, a network needs enough bandwidth to accommodate all online activities by all devices connected to that network at any one time.


Emailing and web browsing are relatively low-bandwidth activities, while streaming music and transferring files take more bandwidth. Video requires even more bandwidth: Standard-definition video conferencing generally requires less than 1 Mbps (megabits per second), while high-resolution video conferencing can require as much as 6 Mbps. Newer “telepresence” technology—which makes remote participants feel as if they are physically present—in conference rooms can require as much as 20 Mbps.


Beyond video

While video conferencing is one of the most obvious activities your employees do online, it’s just one activity to consider. Some bandwidth needs are not as obvious. Tim Singleton, a business technology consultant based in Boulder, Colorado, says his clients get surprised at how many employees bring phones to work and stream music all day. Some music services also run videos concurrently, further clogging the network. “Cell phones double the number of connected devices on a network and typically go unconsidered when thinking about bandwidth needs,” Singleton says.


“Cell phones double the number of connected devices on a network and typically go unconsidered when thinking about bandwidth needs.”


Other emerging business needs are also bandwidth-intensive. Foremost is cloud computing. Many businesses are now running key apps on the cloud and backing up their data to the cloud as well. But running cloud applications can require download speeds of as much as 2.5 Mbps per user—comparable to video conferencing . Other bandwidth-intensive needs include hosting websites (especially ecommerce sites), operating point-of-sale terminals and running major software updates.


And don’t forget about Internet of Things (IoT) devices that might also be constantly consuming bandwidth, whether a voice assistant or smart thermostat.


Businesses that transfer large files online—including raw video and the computer-aided design files used by designers and engineers—have more significant bandwidth needs, Singleton says. For example, transferring an 8 GB (gigabyte) raw video clip that would require 48 minutes on a 25 Mbps connection would require only 6 minutes on a 200 Mbps connection and 2 minutes on a 600 Mbps connection.


Home networks matter, too

These days, many employees are joining video conferences from home. And when employees work from home, their home network will need to be fast enough to accommodate many of the “business” needs described above—not only video conferencing, but cloud applications and more.


Many employees have families with their own intensive bandwidth needs. “Gaming is huge from a bandwidth perspective,” notes Singleton. Increasingly popular cloud gaming services require at least 15 Mpbs to operate properly and more than 35 Mbps when streamed at 4K resolution. Even common home video services can require as much as 25 Mbps when streamed in ultra-HD or 4K.


Imagine your employees trying to get work done while their spouse or children are playing high-resolution games or streaming videos, and you can get a sense of how their bandwidth needs accumulate.


Video conferencing requires substantial bandwidth. But when it comes to assessing the bandwidth needs of your business and your employees, it’s just the beginning. As more business functions occur online, your internet’s speed and bandwidth will probably need to grow along with them.


Spectrum Business Internet offers plans with speeds starting at 200 Mbps and up through Spectrum Business Internet Gig. We can help you determine the right plan for your business needs. Contact us at 855-299-9353.

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