Bandwidth Q&A

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: July 13, 2011

Bandwidth Q&A

Purchasing bandwidth for your business is an important step in ensuring that your telecommunications and data services are up and running at full speed when you need them most. All of today’s businesses have need of a bandwidth plan to keep their business running smoothly. When deciding between different plans and available bandwidth amounts, how do you know what is the right plan for your business? Below are some frequent questions that business owners and network managers have when shopping for the ideal plan for their business.

Q – What is bandwidth?
A – The simplest explanation of bandwidth is that it is the amount of data that a given network can handle in a specific amount of time. It is usually measured in bits or bytes per second.

Q – What is the average bandwidth per user for businesses?
A – Finding an average is difficult in this context, as various businesses (and employees within these businesses) use widely varying amounts. Many businesses use a figure of 6mbps per user to begin their calculations. The safest way to determine your business’ usage is to track the amount of bandwidth you are using and adjust if necessary.

Q – How do I know how much bandwidth my business needs?
A – As above, the safest approach is to get a baseline or benchmark by tracking your usage over a certain period. Alternative methods would be to look at your competition or similar businesses and see what they use, to check out available plans and options and see if there is a consistent amount that seems within a reasonable budget, break down your needs by individual employee needs, or ask potential vendors for average statistical or benchmarking information.

Q – My business is constantly growing and changing, what if I sign up for a plan and then my needs change?
A – Bandwidth on demand (also referred to as dynamic bandwidth allocation) is a pay-as-you-go option that allows for varying amounts of bandwidth to be used depending on your needs. This may be a good option to use if you have frequent and unanticipate-able changes in your needs. Another option may be to check with potential vendors and see what your options are for switching to a higher-allowance plan quickly should the need arise.

Q – What is redundancy?
A – Generally speaking, redundant bandwidth is factored in when you are planning for your data needs to accommodate sudden spikes in traffic. It is basically bandwidth that remains unused except in times of peak traffic (times of day, when you are running an effective campaign, etc.)—but is necessary to have if you anticipate spikes in traffic periodically.

Q – I’m concerned that my provider will have outages, or that my network will be down for long periods of time and I won’t have any recourse.
A – You should have a service level agreement (SLA) in place with your vendors that specify things such as redundancy, network uptime, mean time to repair (MTTR), and other specifics about their levels of service and your recourse options should they fail to live up to their end of your agreement.
 

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