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What Throughput Is Required for Optimal Web Conferencing and How Can You Monitor It?

The right data speeds ensure video streaming and conferencing don’t run into big problems.

Key takeaways:

  • Bandwidth is the data transfer capacity of a network while throughput measures the data transmission rate, and both are measured in megabits per second (Mbps)
  • Netflix requires around 5 Mbps for video streaming, and Zoom recommends at least 1.5 Mbps for standard video calls
  • Ensure reliable connectivity and improve video quality by monitoring network connectivity.

The world moves on virtual connections, and web conferencing has never been more critical for businesses. In early 2020, Zoom saw a 535% increase in daily traffic, and many teams continue to depend on the technology as remote and hybrid workplaces have remained popular.

Some challenges that come with more video conferencing, however, include dropped or lagging meetings with poor quality. And one factor causing these issues revolves around knowing how to improve network data rates to handle such calls. Like online video streaming, web conferencing requires a certain amount of bandwidth so that data can be transmitted properly, and connections stay stable.

This guide discusses the basics of throughput and data rates, outlining what kind of speeds are needed to do high-bandwidth activities online. 

What is throughput?

While bandwidth refers to the maximum data transfer capacity of a network, throughput is the amount of data that can be transmitted from one point to the other in a specific period. 

So, bandwidth is the network’s ideal capacity, representing the theoretical speed of data transmissions, and throughput is what's actually being sent within that capacity. Throughput measures the delivery of data packets, so assessing it shows you the average number of packets successfully reaching their intended destination in what time.

Both throughput and bandwidth are measured in megabits per second (Mbps), and this metric reveals how “fast” a Wi-Fi connection is. 

So, how much speed do you need to conduct higher-bandwidth activities like watching video streams or engaging in web conferencing?

Throughput needed for live streaming and web conferencing

Netflix, the largest and most popular video streaming service, recommends the following download speeds for accessing its TV shows and movies:

  • 3 Mbps for standard definition (SD)
  • 5 Mbps for high definition (HD)
  • 25 Mbps for 4k/ultra HD (UHD)

5 Mbps is the general standard connection speed for video streaming online.

Virtual conferencing also requires more speed than many activities. The FCC recommends minimum download speeds of 1 Mbps for a standard video call, 1.5 Mbps for an HD video call, and 6 Mbps for HD video conferencing. But here’s what Zoom, one of the largest conferencing platforms, recommends for speed:

  • One-on-one video calling in HD: 1.2 Mbps to 3.8 Mbps
  • Group video HD calling: 1.8 Mbps to 4.0 Mbps

These speeds reflect what's needed, so there’s not a lot of lag or drops in video calls. Thus, the best practice is to have at least 1.5 Mbps if you plan to video conference—but going a little higher is better, especially as the number of video conference participants increases.

Additionally, you could require at least 50 Mbps if you expect to download many large files. Other general activities like email and social media only require around 1 Mbps of minimum download speed.

Keep in mind that higher speeds are needed if there will be several streams or conferences running at the same time. For example, if two devices simultaneously watch streaming video, you might need to plan for 10 Mbps of speed. 

A handy bandwidth calculator helps figure out how much bandwidth is needed. For example, if you have over 15 devices using the internet and video conferencing takes place daily, a suggested bandwidth could be about 1,000 Mbps.

How to improve throughput

Many factors impact throughput on a network. These include bandwidth limitations, network congestion, high latency, and packet loss. Here are some possible strategies to improve network throughput:

  • Increase bandwidth based on the number of people using the network at the same time and the activities they’ll be doing
  • Avoid bottlenecks, which occur when the system is delivering more data volume than is supported by the current network capacity
  • Upgrade devices so that they’re never overburdened or malfunctioning
  • Integrate quality of service (QoS), which prioritizes specific traffic so that critical activities won't be impacted by network congestion

Measuring the amount of bandwidth required is a crucial part of improving throughput and ensuring users have the high-performing Wi-Fi to take on video streaming and conferencing.

Going beyond assessing simple speed requirements with wireless network monitoring

Even with perfect planning, a network may experience hiccups without the proper visibility. And the more people and devices it must serve—along with unique environmental challenges—the more issues that may arise. Businesses never want people to experience video call drops or slow loading times, as these activities have become daily and mission-critical. 

Click here to learn more about monitoring

7SIGNAL helps IT staff improve their wireless connectivity—both managing onsite WLANs and diverse remote networks—with constant monitoring and testing. Instead of waiting until something occurs and complaints flood in, you can stay proactive against potential problems. Our platform allows you to see what’s going on moment to moment from the end-user’s perspective, which is often the only way to identify the root cause of any issues. 

 Read more about our wireless experience monitoring solutions or contact us today.

7SIGNAL® is the leader in wireless experience monitoring, providing insight into wireless networks and control over Wi-Fi performance so businesses and organizations can thrive. Our cloud-based wireless network monitoring platform continually tests and measures Wi-Fi performance at the edges of the network, enabling fast solutions to digital experience issues and stronger connections for mission-critical users, devices, and applications. Learn more at www.7signal.com.