Who’s Stealing All the Bandwidth?
It wasn’t that long ago when employees were only able to work from the office or meet face to face. Today companies and individuals are working remotely and engaging with people around the world on various platforms with video conferencing becoming more popular. Online shopping, banking, booking a holiday and house hunting, to name a few are all easily accessible from your desk at work or the comfort of your own home. Having all these online options is great for convenience but often interferes with productive hours in a day at work.
Many companies use more bandwidth than necessary. Why are businesses using more bandwidth than necessary? Bandwidth is more than a commodity. Just like electricity, water, and leasing building space, bandwidth is a necessary expense needed to keep businesses running. Unlike all the others, the amount of bandwidth needed varies based on the workload and what is allowed. Bandwidth in a company can be overused by streaming videos, streaming music or playing video games between completing company tasks. So, what are the most abused “Bandwidth Bandits”? Let’s take a look.
Does your company upload or store video content on a daily basis? Many companies do these days, especially for Marketing and training purposes. In addition to these, what about the videos that are being watched in between company projects? Viewing TV shows or movies online uses about 1 GB of data per hour for standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for HD video. Downloading and streaming consume about the same amount of data.
Everything that is available to employees through their internet connection is available through Wi-Fi. The extra strain Wi-Fi puts on bandwidth are caused by the users who connect their phones to Wi-Fi so they can save on their personal data plan. At no extra cost to them, they can stream video and surf online on their phones. Some people even use their phones to play video games while on (or off) their lunch breaks. Just being connected puts a small drain on your Wi-Fi, but all the rest can slow your network down to a crawl.
Using the Cloud adds a lot of flexibility to your business. The scalability allows you to tailor your bandwidth needs as your company’s needs grow or shrink, but the amount of bandwidth usage varies as more and more files and programs are shared through the Cloud. With subscription-based software programs becoming the norm, there’s data floating in and out of your employee’s workstations all day. If you use heavy-hitting data drainers, like HD video files that are shared between two or more employees, your Cloud gets weighed down fairly quickly. If not monitored properly, excess data usage through the Cloud can clog your system like hair in a bathtub drain.
Whether you’re working from home, meeting with clients, or even interviewing potential new employees, videoconferencing is definitely a tool that makes good business sense. Many business trips have been replaced by video conferencing. That information is now sent through the internet connection, and that needs to be factored into bandwidth needs. The good news is that video conferencing costs a lot less than travel, so spending a little more on bandwidth is probably the most cost-effective way to meet with people one on one.
Many people enjoy listening to music while at work, and if the company allows it, then it’s no big deal. Right? Well, mostly right. Problems may arise when the streaming music is left running 24 hours a day or multiple people competing with their own tunes. The more people stream music, the more it will cause a drain on your bandwidth. Even though music streams at a low data rate, some services allow users to store their music files on the Cloud, and that causes a bump in the data flow. Accessing personal music files and streaming Internet Radio may not take up too much bandwidth, but the number of employees who are constantly listening to music adds up. If most employees listen to streaming music, then data usage should be monitored.
Humans are social creatures and look for ways to stay connected to people they are close to. Social media gives us many ways to stay in touch with others; but in the office, that comes at a price. When business owners calculate the bandwidth requirements for start-ups, often employee’s social media habits are not factored in. Sure, most functions utilized through social media don’t use much data at all; but, increasingly, video attachments are sent along with a text message. Even in a compressed state, video files are among the greediest bandwidth thieves
As you can see there are many ways your bandwidth is being used throughout the day, and it can impact businesses in a variety of ways. For example, just a few years ago it was taboo for employees to spend time watching videos on YouTube or looking at pictures of their nephew’s graduation on Facebook. Today, it is generally accepted that employees will spend some time doing these things.
As a business owner, controls or limits can be placed on these habits, but these actions may cost a company in other ways. Employee morale is linked to online habits.
It’s a challenge to find a balance between the bandwidth a business needs and the bandwidth employees need. Look out for next month’s blog where we talk about reining in data hogs while maintaining positive company culture and avoiding mutiny.