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How Much Bandwidth Do I Need?

How do you decide what bandwidth you need for your office? The answer to this question can cost you hundreds of dollars in lost productivity for your people, or in additional costs paying for internet you don’t need.

Bandwidth Usage

Here is a list of typical bandwidth suckers and then we’ll calculate a couple different office sizes:

VOIP Phone Call Per Device .5 Mbps[i]
Music Streaming Per Device 2 Mbps
Video Streaming Per Device 4 Mbps
Smart Devices (Phone, Echo) when Idle Per Device 1 Mbps
General Web Browsing Per Device 1 Mbps

 

You also should plan on actually needing about 30% more than what’s calculated for smooth network operation.

Office of 10 People (Heavy Use):

If you have 10 people in your office and you are a creative agency (Art, Marketing, Design, Etc). you’ll probably have 50% of them streaming a video or music at any one time, and they’ll probably all have a smart phone. Of course, all of this assumes they are doing all of this ALL the time, which isn’t true, so as you get to a higher number of uses, you’ll want to change the calculations.

Music Streaming x 5 = 10 Mbps

Video Streaming x 5 = 20 Mbps

Smart Devices x 10 = 10 Mbps

General Web Browsing x 5 = 5 Mbps

Total without VOIP (45 + 30%): 58.5 Mbps down

Adding VOIP (VOIP x 10 = 5) 65 Mbps.

Office of 10 People (Light Use):

Here’s a possible scenario of an office with 10 people who are not a creative agency (I would call this an average office). We’re going to assume that at any one time 20% of them will be either streaming video, music, or surfing the web. Here’s the calculation.

Music Streaming x 2 = 4 Mbps

Video Streaming x 2 = 8 Mbps

Smart Devices x 10 = 10 Mbps

General Web Browsing x 2 = 2 Mbps

 

Total without VOIP (24 + 30%): 31.2 Mbps down

Adding VOIP (VOIP x 10 = 5) 36.2 Mbps.

Other Considerations

Speeds Less Than 100 Mbps

  1. Old Building
    1. If you’re in an old building where the wiring was done in the early 90’s, then you may have Cat3, which is limited to 10Mbps.
  2. Hardware Limitations
    1. WiFi
      1. Your WiFi device has a total limit of traffic it can handle. If you’re trying to run lots of computers on a single WiFi device, you’ll likely experience a bottle neck that isn’t close to the full speed of your ISP.
    2. Firewall
      1. You’ll need to have a commercial grade firewall to get a reliable 100 Mbps through your firewall. Google your make and model to see what speeds it can accept. Also, if you’re using any kind of content filtering or gateway services, this will slow down your connection more.

Speeds Greater Than 1000 Mbps

  1. OldBuilding
    1. If you’re in a building built before the early 2000’s, it was probably built with Cat5 cabling. Cat5 cabling limits your throughput to 100 Mbps. Cat5e and Cat 6 both support speeds of 1000 Mbps
  2. Hardware Limitations
    1. WiFi
      1. Your WiFi device has a total limit of traffic it can handle. If you’re trying to run lots of computers on a single WiFi device, you’ll likely experience a bottle neck that isn’t close to the full speed of your ISP.
    2. Firewall
      1. You’ll need to have a really good commercial grade firewall to get 1000 Mbps through your firewall. Google your make and model to see what speeds it can accept. Also, if you’re using any kind of content filtering or gateway services, this will slow down your connection more.
    3.  Switch
      1. You’ll need to make sure your switch can support 1000 Mbps speeds. If not, you’ll need to upgrade. If you want to experience the full speeds.

[i] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.99.7039&rep=rep1&type=pdf