How to Tackle the Bandwidth Battle
Bandwidth demand is exploding. As a result, what used to suffice as “fast” now seemingly moves at a snail’s pace. And, the need for more bandwidth will continue. According to Cisco, global Internet traffic is expected to triple by 2016 (1). Why? More businesses are using applications in the cloud. In addition, their employees are accessing the company’s Wi-Fi Internet with their smartphones and tablets, and they are streaming music and video at work. In fact, video surpassed peer-to-peer file sharing as the largest type of Internet traffic in 2010, and bandwidth requirements for videoconferencing are growing at a faster rate than for any other business application(2).
Small businesses must stay ahead of the curve by providing adequate Internet bandwidth, or their employees and customers may eventually experience service degradation and diminished productivity.
Determining Where To Focus (And What To Ignore)
How much bandwidth is enough? Determining the bandwidth necessary to increase and maintain productivity can be a challenge. The best place to start is by clearly understanding your current bandwidth usage. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The needs and resources of your unique business will correlate to a different set of bandwidth and technology solutions. The process begins by asking the right questions.
- What networking infrastructure do you already have in place?
- How many computers and mobile devices (in Wi-Fi mode) are accessing your Internet service?
- Do you access any applications in the cloud, and if so, how frequently?
- How much bandwidth is your business currently using?
- Are you planning any changes (such as additional employees or new applications) that might have an impact on your bandwidth needs?
To adequately answer these questions, we offer three areas to explore.
3 Ways To Tackle The Bandwidth Battle
1. Monitor your network to assess the demand
Monitoring and measuring the application throughput on your network is vital to building and maintaining a fast, functional network; it will show you the amount of bandwidth each application uses, so you can diagnose the source of slow Internet speeds, clipping on VoIP calls, video pixelation, or whatever network issue you are experiencing. Faster access to information is key to accelerating decision-making and keeping your employees productive.
Use network monitoring, mapping and alerting software to help you track trends and understand bandwidth utilization. The Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) Managed Security solution not only protects your company from malware and spyware and provides intrusion detection and prevention, it also gives you the ability to:
- Monitor all traffic on the network (e.g., the Internet traffic each person generates, the URLs that are being visited on the Internet, etc.)
- Generate Internet traffic reports daily, weekly, monthly, annually or at whatever interval you would like
- Block access to certain websites (e.g., YouTube, music sharing sites, BitTorrent, etc.)
- Shape the bandwidth (e.g., limit an individual’s ability to use too much bandwidth)
- Give certain applications (e.g., Voice) priority
- Securely access your company network while working remotely
TWCBC Managed Security is powerful, easy to use and affordable.
2. Get to know the bandwidth hogs
Small businesses can experience usage and performance problems when a handful of users and applications gobble up the majority of the network resources – so it pays to know what activities could consume the largest amount of bandwidth.
For most businesses, it is likely that downloading and streaming video from a source such as YouTube is the biggest culprit, and videoconferencing is right behind, but there are others.
File sharing and storage can require more bandwidth than you might think, especially sharing bulky files or simultaneously downloading a lot of documents from cloud-based applications like Dropbox.
Popular communications systems can also be bandwidth intensive. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems and platforms such as Skype, which enable video calling, can strain available Internet resources.
Even employees surfing the web can “guzzle” bandwidth, as can employees streaming music over the Internet if many of them do this throughout the day.
Social media, although it is becoming a new national pastime, is rarely a bandwidth hog. Neither is email. Although employees who excessively use email may be a drain on productivity, email has moved down the list of problem areas from a network perspective.
3. Conduct a thorough assessment of available solutions
Service providers that can cost-effectively meet today’s network requirements, and seamlessly scale to deliver tomorrow’s, are essential to your business success. Choosing facility-based providers with their own robust networks can simplify pricing and reduce costs, while providing a single point of contact for sales and service. To cover your needs now and in the future, look for high-speed Internet providers that offer flexible levels of service on a scalable platform that you can easily upgrade to adapt to your growing usage needs.
The Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) network can support the high bandwidth applications your employees need to help increase productivity and streamline business operations. TWCBC wholly owns our Hybrid Fiber-Coax network, which delivers speed and scalability to millions of small business customers in the markets we serve. With TWCBC Internet access, you can increase your bandwidth with just a phone call – no truck roll needed. You will get more bandwidth, at faster speeds, than aggregating 1.5 Mbps T-1 lines. We also offer a complete suite of communication solutions – all over one platform, which provides better efficiency and support for your small business.
Watch this video to see how one small business is benefiting from a TWCBC solution. They switched to TWCBC 50 Mbps Wideband Internet access and PRI phone service and saw a 20% increase in revenue from the faster Internet speeds alone.
To thrive in today’s networked economy, businesses need to stay ahead of bandwidth demand. The rise of cloud computing, videoconferencing, multimedia collaboration, and mobile devices in the workplace are dramatically increasing bandwidth usage. As a result, small business owners need to monitor and design a network that can accommodate the ever-increasing bandwidth requirements of business-critical applications and employees. Carefully evaluate and choose a service provider that can cost-effectively meet your bandwidth needs today and easily accommodate planned and unplanned growth in the future.