This is an excellent question which is often answered with speculation and a prescription for more. If you don’t have hard data on your current usage, and most businesses do not, you need to find another way to determine your bandwidth needs. The national Internet providers will often suggest more bandwidth. While you may need to increase your Internet bandwidth capacity, it’s better to get a sure answer.
Follow the Education Sector
A report called “The Broadband Imperative” shows that schools need 100Mbps for every 1,000 Internet users. The call for robust broadband in schools comes from the shift of learning to online platforms. The same is true for business.
Businesses that rely on online applications can fairly compare a student’s broadband bandwidth needs to the bandwidth needs of an employee. By comparing businesses to the well-researched education sector we can lay some ground rules for bandwidth demands today and in the future:
- Businesses need 100Mbps per 1,000 users or 100Kbps per user.
- By 2017 the report projects users will require 1Gbps per 1,000 students or 1Mbps per user
- For high-definition video streaming each person requires 4Mbps of download speed.
- For video conferencing (Skype, Google Hangouts, Go To Meeting, etc.) each person requires about 8Mbps of download speed.
These are strong benchmarks that can help us determine the bandwidth requirements for a business of any size. Of course, you can exclude some employees from your calculations. For example remote sales persons, work-from-home staff members and warehouse employees who do not use the Internet. We frequently see businesses buying broadband plans exceeding 100Kbps per employee from national Internet providers, which is likely more than they need. Use these standards to make a smarter bandwidth purchase.
Account for the Future
As the projections show, networks are continuously needing more capacity and 1Gbps networks are where things are headed. But most small businesses function successfully with less bandwidth than they might think (or a national provider might suggest). Think quality over quantity. Do not get pushed into thinking you need a 100Mbps, 300Mbps, or 1Gbps without the evidence to support your need for a network of that size. Remember, you probably need about 100Kbps per employee right now.
You also need to plan for growth. Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth states that Internet usage doubles every 12 months. If you need 10Mbps of bandwidth service right now, next year you’ll probably need 20Mbps. If you’re signing a 24-month contract, make sure your bandwidth will have ample capacity for the end of that contract.
To determine your current usage and gain hard data on your needs start tracking your bandwidth usage. E-vergent can help you determine your current bandwidth usage by installing a device on your network and running traffic utilization reports. Our business network management service can give you insights about your Internet usage with your current provider. After acquiring data you can determine if it’s time to move from a “best effort” product with varying levels of performance up to a dedicated internet access product. Bandwidth is only bandwidth if it is USABLE bandwidth.
Reliability Can Overcome Additional Bandwidth
All businesses want reliable Internet service, but the solution doesn’t always mean more capacity from a national carrier. E-vergent can supply your business highly reliable bandwidth plans of 5Mbps, 10Mbps, 20Mbps, 50Mbps and up to 1Gbps without overselling you capacity. All of our dedicated Internet Access products come with a 99.999% availability SLA and a 4 hour repair response time guarantee sites.