The Need For Speed: How to Determine Internet Bandwidth Needs For Your Business

How much bandwidth do you need for your business?

Companies rely on their internet connection for most communications, including those with vendors and customers. Increasingly, internet bandwidth also affects daily workflows as more enterprises move towards cloud-hosted environments. As such, calculating bandwidth is both more important and challenging than ever before.

The article below will cover how to measure current usage and speeds to determine your required bandwidth. We’ll also look at how the right strategic partner can support your existing workforce and future goals while providing the latest (and fastest) fiber optic technologies.

The Role of Bandwidth: An Overview of Basic Connectivity

Bandwidth is a measurement of the volume of data that can be sent over your internet connection per second. It’s calculated in megabits per second (Mbps). Every internet-connected device and application use bandwidth, from your business phone system to customer WiFi.

Online activities and connected devices send and receive data, and much like vehicles on a congested road, too many applications cause a traffic jam on your network. Standard bandwidth works well when there’s just the right amount of traffic. It’s like a two-lane road. Data flows consistently on a narrow, shared highway, but there are occasional delays, known as internet latency.

Higher capacity bandwidth is more like an expressway — more data can move quickly from one point to another. While ample bandwidth is essential, your internet connection quality depends on the line type. Shared lines split bandwidth between multiple users, whereas dedicated ones don’t.

Typically, shared lines provide asymmetrical connections, which affect your data speed and file transfer rate. Asynchronous lines have a significantly faster download speed than upload speed. As a result, enterprises can run into problems when employees upload large files or videos during a video conference or cloud-based backup.

Bandwidth Solutions: Dedicated, Fiber Optic Lines

A fast-growing organization with large interconnected locations will experience slower speeds with shared asymmetrical business lines. Indeed, enterprises that rely on cloud-based tools could see reduced employee productivity and poor user experiences during peak hours.

Fortunately, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer asynchronous and synchronous fiber-optic networks. Fiber’s newer infrastructure is less prone to interference allowing for a constant and uninterrupted data flow, meaning lower latency and less packet loss. Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) circuits significantly increase bandwidth capacity and provide identical data speeds and file transfer rates, so you’ll have equally fast upload and download speeds.

Likewise, DIA connections are dedicated to your business users, meaning you’re not sharing the road with others and can transmit data at higher speeds. Dedicated fiber solutions are best for organizations with multiple Virtual Private Network (VPN) users, regular high-definition (HD) file sharing, and reliance on cloud-based applications.

Enterprise technology services include other benefits as well, such as:

  • Custom network designs
  • Guaranteed rates with Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Higher capacity bandwidth
  • Speeds up to 100 Gigabits per second (Gbps)
  • Round-the-clock monitoring and support

Calculating Bandwidth: Meeting Your Current and Future Needs

While a small business can run a speed test and do quick calculations, estimating bandwidth usage and requirements is challenging as your company grows. The use will vary according to the time of day, the number of simultaneous users, and the type and amount of deployed endpoints.

Categorize each device based on the following categories:

  • Low: Equipment using 100 kilobits per second (Kbps) or less, such as e-fax machines, computers for basic email and web surfing tasks, and VoIP phones.
  • Medium: Devices transferring 100 to 500 Kbps while emailing, downloading files, streaming video, and extensive web browsing.
  • High: Hardware requiring 500 Kbps to 2 Mbps that supports cloud-based software programs, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs.
  • Intensive: Devices using 2 Mbps or higher, such as HD video conferencing equipment for meeting rooms and personal users.

Determine your peak bandwidth usage by calculating how many hours a day each device is used. Next, consider how many employees use the same network and how much time they spend online. Examining usage among users and devices provides insights into service quality during peak operational times and capacity limits.

Speed Tests: Monitoring and Assessing Use

Regular speed tests show variances between days and times on wired and wireless connections. It’s essential to complete them frequently to ensure that your services meet the standards offered by your provider. Moreover, a speed test can catch quality issues after introducing new technologies or completing digital transformation objectives.

Speed tests calculate upload speed, ping, and download speed. Ping measures the responsivity of your connection — the time it takes for one computer to send a signal to another on the same network. Ping is a one-way trip, whereas latency measures the round trip. In addition, upload and download speeds benchmark your Mbps. Advanced tools may also compute jitter rates, which reflects inconsistency in latency.

Preparing for Growth

Your internet bandwidth and speed affect the success of your technology initiatives. You can introduce top-notch tools to improve employee and customer experiences, but adoption will be slow if the online platforms aren’t responsive.

Therefore, it’s vital to assess what impact tech improvements or upgrades have on your internet service. The same goes for adding new locations or distributed VPN-connected workforces. ISPs with flexible packages and services help you scale from small business connections to enterprise-grade DIAs.

Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) offers access to several other supportive services, including:

  • Secure networking solutions such as MPLS, Metro Ethernet and SD-WAN
  • Network failover to secondary WAN networks
  • System migration and ongoing helpdesk support
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service
  • Cloud-based VoIP and PBX business phone services

What You Can Do Right Now

The internet is a vital part of how we get business done. These days that means figuring out your bandwidth needs and how to provide for them. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Take a look at your current connection with a speed test. You can test your current speed here.
  • Figure out how many users you expect to have, and what their needs are.
  • Get a connection with room to grow, not one that barely meets your needs.

Choose the Best Business Enterprise Service Plan

Your ISP may offer several internet bandwidth options, such as cable, broadband, or fiber optic services. From there, you can select shared or dedicated, symmetrical or asymmetrical, lines. Enterprise-grade plans also include customizable speed options, including fixed and burstable billing.

Your ISP should function as an outsourced arm of your IT team and provide tools, such as web-based portals for tracking your domains’ and circuits’ performance.  Contact Cox Business to learn about enterprise packages with service-level agreements for guaranteed uptime and 24/7 dedicated support teams.