14 Jun 2019 by Claire Schembri
7 minute read
Learn all about why and how internet speed impacts the quality of meetings and presentations – and what you can do to improve it.
If you’re older than 25, you will definitely remember good old dial-up internet access, where we connected to the internet through the phone lines. Network prices tended to be cheaper in the late afternoon and evening, and people had to choose between being reachable by telephone or being online. To connect, the modem would frantically emit a cacophony of beeps for a couple of minutes while you’re staring at the screen, twiddling your thumbs or playing Solitaire, until finally! You are connected to the internet.
Thankfully, technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since the early 2000s. Instead of modems, we now have routers, broadband and wireless internet, where connecting takes split seconds, not minutes. We are also more online than ever before and therefore require significantly more bandwidth.
Broadband, bandwidth, Network, Cloud, megabytes…. You might have heard all these terms before, but do you understand what they mean? We will help you understand some basic terms related to internet services so that you have enough knowledge to make better-informed decisions when selecting internet plans for your business.
Broadband is a high-speed connection that transfers large amounts of data over the Internet using a single cable. Modern broadband technology is typically high-bitrate DSL or optical fiber connections.
Bandwidth describes how much data a network is capable of transferring from one point to another in one second. It is usually measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Your bandwidth depends on the internet plan you have purchased from our Internet Service Provider (ISP). The more bandwidth, the more expensive the plan. Bandwidth can be symmetric; meaning that the same amount of data can be uploaded or download, or asymmetric; meaning that the capacity is larger either when downloading or uploading data. The bandwidth you are paying for is not necessarily the network speed you are getting. You can check your bandwidth with your ISP and your network speed with an online calculator such as this one by Ookla.
Network speed is not quite the same as bandwidth – while bandwidth describes the maximum capacity, network speed, as the word implies, describes the speed data is being transferred at the very moment. Network speed is also measured in Mbps and is made up of two figures; download and upload speed.
These are also very straightforward. Download speed refers to how fast you can download data to your computer in Mbps while upload speed refers to how fast you can upload data from your computer to another location in Mbps. At home, download speed is more important, as the internet is being used for general browsing and streaming. At work, upload speed is very important, especially when using cloud-based applications such as Google Docs, Microsoft OneDrive or Dropbox to share files.
Steaming is a method of sending or receiving audio and video data in a continuous flow, where the data is present or played back the instant it is received while the rest of the data is still being downloaded. Traditional downloading requires the complete file is downloaded and physically present on your computer before it can be played. You know streaming from apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Netflix and HBO. In online meetings and video conferences, the audio and video from other participants are being streamed.
Cloud-based apps are a blend of web apps and traditional desktop apps. They can be installed on the computer and operated online and offline or run purely on the browser without ever downloading anything to your devices. Depending on how you are using the app, data can be stored on your computer and on a remote data center. There are hundreds of cloud-based solutions for enterprises that can be used from everything from email and file-sharing to customer relationship management and financial accounting.
Modern meetings involve a lot more than a PowerPoint presentation download on your computer displayed on a TV. Thanks to the myriad of devices, software and apps available, meetings and presentations have become a lot more exciting and engaging. They do, however, put some demands on the equipment and network.
Meetings have increasingly become a mix of online and offline, where one or more of the meeting attendees are attending remotely. This places a demand on the meeting space equipment and the quality of the network. The necessary devices are required to record high-quality audio and video, and the network needs to be fast and stable enough to handle a video conference call without any lagging or other disturbances.
Several online presentation tools such as Prezi or Keynote can provide a rich multimedia experience, but also require a stable internet connection to operate at their best. Bumpy changes between slides due to loading time can ruin the whole presentation experience.
Working meetings typically involve collaboration on documents in real-time; several co-authors adding content, editing and reviewing each other’s work. Some apps even offer the opportunity to chat with each other from within the document. This setup requires a fast internet connection to reflect the updates being made to the document in real-time. Otherwise, contributors would risk overwriting or deleting each other’s work by mistake.
If you have lived through any of these scenarios, you acknowledge the importance of a fast and stable internet connection. Poor network quality and the disruptions it brings can cause a lot of frustrations to employees, waste a lot of time and hinder productivity during meetings.
The question that arises now is, how much bandwidth do you need in your meeting spaces?
To provide the best quality internet connection in your meeting spaces, there are several questions you can ask yourself. The answers to these questions can help you make a better estimate of your bandwidth and infrastructural requirements.
For individual video conferencing requirements, a call between two users would require approximately 1Mbps down and 1Mbs on both sides to run smoothly. If using HD or 4K video, the number can increase exponentially. The same goes for screen sharing and adding more members to a call. If additional apps are running in the background, the bandwidth requirements will increase as well.
Check out system requirements for Zoom, Skype for Business, GoToMeeting and Cisco Webex.
To ensure a stable internet connection in video conference calls, one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest things you could do is to provide a wired connection to devices in the meeting or conference room. A wired connection is always a bit stronger and stable than WIFI. You could have a router in the meeting room and connect a laptop to it using an Ethernet cable.
If this is not an option, a Wi-Fi extender could also help. A Wi-Fi extender works similarly to an amplifier; receiving the Wi-Fi signal from the router and amplifying it before transmitting the boosted signal.
There are also more advanced solutions. Collabo by Neets, our video conferencing hub, provides audio, video and network through one USB cable! All you would need in a meeting room is your standard flat screen, a laptop and Collabo – and you have high-quality speakers that are optimized for speech enhancement, a wide-view camera, omnichannel microphones and a wired Internet connection. In other words, everything you need to have a good online meeting or video conference. Learn more about Collabo by Neets here.
This guide has given you some insights on some of the demands and requirements of meeting attendees, and the collaboration and presentation tools they use. To summarize, fast internet with high bandwidth: