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What You Should Know About Bandwidth

What You Should Know About Bandwidth

Depending on the company, the Internet connection is perhaps the most important part of its IT infrastructure, especially if it has remote workers or multiple offices connected by a Wide Area Network (WAN). Other technologies such as VoIP, screen-sharing, and webinars also benefit from optimized bandwidth. Today, we’ll talk about bandwidth, what your company’s needs are, and how to get the Internet service that is right for you. 

Before we go any further, it is important that you have an idea of how bandwidth functions.

Bandwidth Does Not Equal Speed

This is a common misconception, but to get you to better understand how bandwidth works in the transmission of data, we’ll use an example of a fast food chain. 

Picture your favorite fast food restaurant. A school bus filled with hungry student athletes show up looking for a post-game meal. Most of the students want the same food, which allows the clerk behind the register to take all of their orders at a consistent rate. While it may take longer, all of the team members will have their order taken. 

Now, imagine that the fast food franchise has a second person at the registers, equally proficient as the first employee. While the speed at which orders can be taken hasn’t technically increased, more orders can be taken at once, so the student athletes will make it through the line faster.

Bandwidth works in effectively the same way as the registers in this scenario. The food (data) doesn’t actually move any faster, it’s just that the greater bandwidth moves more food (data) at once. 

As far as your Internet connections go, you can have a shortage of bandwidth, but you can actually have too much, as well. It’s like if the fast food restaurant had three registers open, but only one order to take. In this scenario, you are effectively wasting your resources. 

The Influence of Bandwidth

The amount of bandwidth you commit to will have a considerable impact on the efficiency of your business. Some applications, like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), webinars, and backup processes use a lot of bandwidth, while others, like file transmission, won’t. It’s on you to find the right amount of bandwidth you need for your particular endeavor.

There are some things you can do. You can throttle the bandwidth dedicated to some of your least-important tasks, or you can schedule some resource-intensive tasks after operating hours to ensure you have enough for daily operations. One of the most helpful things to do that helps you optimize your available bandwidth is to find out how much bandwidth you actually have available. This is where Computerware’s consultants can help.

Evaluating Your Network

When it comes to evaluating your bandwidth needs, our technicians can help. We can audit your network to find out exactly what your needs are, and if there is any current waste. One way you can determine your bandwidth is by using a speed test, like Speedtest.net to determine your current available bandwidth. 

If you are currently looking to use bandwidth-heavy technologies like VoIP, you should look into the following metrics:

  • Mean Opinion Score (MOS)
    The MOS was once entirely generated via feedback and opinions from human users. To VoIP, it is now generated based on an algorithmic analysis of three different metrics (those metrics being listening quality, conversational quality, and transmission quality) to give a score between 0-and-5 (or incoherent-to-excellent). I know I don’t need to tell you that you want your business to have high-quality calls.

  • Quality of Service (QoS)
    Much like the MOS, the QoS of your VoIP solution is an important consideration in how successful you can consider your implementation of VoIP to be. Bandwidth plays a considerable role in defining the QoS.

  • Jitter
    This is the term used to identify delays in data packet delivery to a network, recognizable by sounds that are choppy or lag. You should be aiming for minimal jitter, which translates to consistent packet delivery.

  • Latency (Ping Rate)
    This is the term to describe the milliseconds-long delay that results from information moving from point-to-point. Ideally, this number is small and consistent, but this isn’t always the case. If a ping takes an abnormally long time to reach somewhere on the Internet and come back to your network, you have a MS spike, and potentially, a problem.

  • Codec
    Whatever kind of broadcasting you may be engaged in (including VoIP), some data compression can be helpful, but swiftly becomes an issue if the audio quality is no longer sufficient. For instance, if you were using VoIP, you could compress the call to limit the bandwidth used, but this means the quality would suffer, and make the call harder to understand. Of course, a little compression may not be an issue, so to keep it to a minimum, make sure you have sufficient bandwidth to accommodate peak usage times.

Computerware has the technicians in place to both identify bandwidth issues and optimize the use of bandwidth to integrate new and useful technologies. Call us today at (703) 821-8200 to learn more. 

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