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How much bandwidth do I need?

Our product specialists often get the question how much bandwidth do I need? You can think about bandwidth like a garden hose. Say you need to fill a 50-gallon tank. If your hose puts out 5 gallons of water per minute, you’ll be waiting 10 minutes to fill the tank. However, a firehose putting out 50 gallons a minute will fill the bucket in 1 minute. What more, not all garden hoses (Internet Connections) are created equal. As I’ve discussed in dedicated vs. shared bandwidth Blog on Dedicated vs. Shared, the “quality" of the bandwidth can be more important than the amount of bandwidth, this is especially true if you’re using “real-time” applications like VoIP and Video Conferencing.

Here are some of the questions that we ask to help determine the amount of bandwidth that we suggest for our customers:

  • Is content filtering an option, or off the table?
  • Are any public facing web servers hosted internally?
  • Are social media outlets open for usage or banned?
  • Does an online backup (i.e. CrashPlan) play a role in core backup needs?
  • Is VOIP in use at the office, and how many users are on it?
  • How much email is being sent & received per day per user?
  • Is cloud email like Google or Microsoft 365 being used?
  • Are other cloud services like Salesforce or Quickbooks Online used?
  • What is the office culture on streaming media usage like?

How are you using the internet, are you uploading and/or downloading large files, are your employees using streaming services like Pandora or Netflix, are you using a VoIP service, are you using cloud applications like CRM? How many employee access the internet, do you offer internet to your guests, if so, how many guests will access the internet at any given time. Will you be restricting access for guest to only web surfing?

Your answers will help to determine the recommendations. As an example, if you’re a retailer that offers guest WiFi, you will most likely want to consider an internet speed north of 50Mbps as you’ll want your guests to have a great experience. Conversely, if you’re a home office with only a couple of devices and minimal file downloads, a “starter” internet package will be sufficient. Lastly, if you have an office with 15+ employees, you use “Cloud” based services, and you’re not restricting employees access to the internet, you’ll want north of 75Mpbs to account for employees use of streaming services.

How do applications affect your bandwidth (estimate only):

  • Pandora - 128K per employee streaming
  • YouTube - HD movie can use up to 4.5Mbps
  • Video Surveillance Streaming - Up to 1.2Mbps
  • Skype HD Video call up to 1.5Mbps
  • Voice over IP calls - up to 100K per call

As you can see, all the applications that are used in the office can add up. If you have employees streaming music, watching the occasional youtube video, using Skype in addition to day-to-day email and web surfing you’ll need to take that into account through an honest assessment of your office usage:

Here is a rule of thumb:

  • 10Mbps or less: Home office, basic web surfing, and email
  • 10-20Mbps: Less than 10 employees, no guest internet, web surfing, email, occasional streaming
  • 30-40Mbps: Less than 10 employees, some guest internet access, occasional video conferencing and streaming, VoIP with less than 5 concurrent calls
  • 40-75Mbps: More than 10 employees, guest WiFi, moderate streaming, large file downloading, VoIP with more than 10 concurrent calls
  • 75+Mbps: More than 20 employees, guest WiFi, heavy streaming, large files, VoIP with more than 15 concurrent calls