The Importance of Bandwidth for Video Conferencing

December 30th, 2017 by ali Leave a reply »

Does your video conference glitch? Probably the cause could be poor bandwidth. Let’s examine the importance of this factor in video conferencing quality

Video conferencing is not exactly as the videos that you enjoy on YouTube. While internet video clips are reproduced by downloading some portions of the footage ahead of time, in video conferencing data are sent in real time in small chunks.

So, why bandwidth is important? According to Wikipedia, bandwidth is the information capacity of your system expressed in bits. In other words, bandwidth measures the capacity to process data of your network by quantity. Imagine your network as a hydraulic system made of pipes and valves, where the data streaming through it are like water; bandwidth is similar to the capacity of pipes expressed in liters per second.

Now, what happens in a physical hydraulic system, when the pressure (the quantity of liters per second) is too high? Usually, a pipe breaks down somewhere and the water spills out. In IT, data networks (the IT equivalent of pipes) cannot break (luckily); therefore, the solution cannot but stop the data stream and keep it waiting while your system processes the first chunks of data that arrived. The analogy could be with a traffic tail; the drivers in the back of the tail have to wait that the drivers ahead go past the traffic light or the road junction before moving on.

Obviously, the larger the road (or the pipe), the higher the quantity of cars (or water) it is able to hold without traffic tail (or breaks in the pipes). Same in IT: the larger the bandwidth, the bigger the quantity your network can process without data delay. When bandwidth is set properly, the result is smooth video conferencing, without frame-stops, jerking images and glitches.

How to understand what is the right amount of bandwidth for your needs? Actually, there is a formula that can help: video Bandwidth (in MB per second) = Users + conference room system capability X 2 Mbps (max call rate) x concurrent utilization in % + 10% (protocol overhead).

For example, let’s imagine  a scenario with five simultaneous calls for every 100 users that share an internet connection. It means a concurrent utilization of 5%. If the capacity of your room systems is 10 Mbps, the formula becomes: 100+10 x 2 x 5% + 10% = about 250 Mbps of bandwidth capacity.

When the bandwidth allowed is too much, we have what it is called over optimization; your video conferences will fly, but you will spend too much money, as bandwidth costs. When it is too little, your video conferences start jerking and the stream slows down.

Naturally, bandwidth is not the only parameter to take into account when deciding how many resources to assign to your video conferencing system. Furthermore, some factors like cloud based video conferencing services can affect in some way our calculations. However, bandwidth requirements of video conferencing tools are usually written in their user manuals.

If you are interested in video conferencing and its best practices, you are going to find further resources and useful articles and posts in R-HUB`s blog at http://www.rhubcom.com

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