Internet bandwidth considerations for remote workers

Working from home is here to stay, and more businesses will continue to implement either a fully remote work policy or adopt a hybrid work model . Some employees, however, may find it difficult to be as productive at home as they are at the office, especially if they don’t have sufficient internet bandwidth. But how much bandwidth is needed to be able to work smoothly?

What is bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be sent over a network or Internet connection in a given amount of time, and is usually expressed in Megabits per second (Mbps). It is not the same as network speed, which measures the maximum rate that data can be transmitted from point A to point B.

Imagine two computers with the same internet speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps): The first computer will have 100 Mbps bandwidth, and will download a packet of 500Mb in 5 seconds.  If the second computer downloads the same sized packet at the same time, the total Internet speed remains the same, but the available bandwidth for each computer will only be 500Mbps, and the download will take10 seconds. The same principle applies to  multiple applications sharing bandwidth on a single computer.  Therefore, the higher the bandwidth, the more data can be sent over a connection, contributing to faster uploads and downloads and a better internet experience overall.

How much bandwidth do you need for remote working?

To answer this question, you need to factor in the type of work that you do and the apps that you use. If you have the Internet connection to yourself and your job mostly consists of sending emails, editing and writing in Office 365 or other apps, and communicating on instant messaging,  then you can do your job with ease even with low bandwidth. On the other hand, if your day-to-day tasks consist of frequently attending meetings through video calls, connecting to your office over a VPN, or transferring large files then you’d need a plan with higher bandwidth.

Once you have a clear picture of how much data you send and receive on an average workday, you can start looking for Internet plans that can support your needs. While you may not need to conduct virtual meetings in 4K quality, you also won’t want your clients and colleagues to appear pixelated or have your connection cut off mid-sentence.

Here are some requirements for common video chat apps used by remote workers today:

Teams requires the same upload and download internet bandwidth for the following scenarios:

    • At least 1.2 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 720p
    • At least 1.5 Mbps for peer-to-peer HD-quality video calling at 1080p
    • At least 500 Kbps/1 Mbps for group video calling
  • Sample requirements

          For 1:1 video calling:

    • 30k to 1Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • 1.2 Mbps (up/down) for 720p HD video
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 1.8 Mbps (upspeed)

For group video calling:

    • 800 Kbps/1.0 Mbps (up/down) for high-quality video
    • For 720p HD video: 1.5 Mbps (up/down)
    • Receiving 1080p HD video requires at least 2.5 Mbps (downspeed)
    • Sending 1080p HD video requires at least 3.0 Mbps (upspeed)
  • Other vendors have even higher bandwidth requirements

HD video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 3.2 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement.
    • Minimum inbound signals: 2.6 Mbps with two participants; 3.2 Mbps with five participants; and 4.0 Mbps with 10 participants

Standard definition (SD) video quality:

    • Outbound signals must always meet a 1 Mbps minimum bandwidth requirement
    • Minimum inbound signals: 1 Mbps with two participants; 1.5 Mbps with five participants; and 2 Mbps with 10 participants
    • The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads: 512 Kbps for three participants; 2 Mbps for five participants; and 4 Mbps for seven people. Upload requirements remain constant at 128 Kbps.

Does your company need advice on how to ensure remote workers have the bandwidth they need for all of their work activities?

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Beringer Technology Group, a leading Microsoft Gold Certified Partner specializing in Microsoft Dynamics 365 and CRM for Distribution also provides expert Managed IT ServicesBackup and Disaster RecoveryCloud Based Computing, Email Security Implementation and TrainingUnified Communication Solutions, and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment.