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You need fast, reliable Internet to keep your business running. You know that already. The question is: how fast does it actually need to be?

It may seem like a rhetorical question – the faster the better, right? But different types of businesses require different speeds to keep up. It all depends on how you’re using your Internet. Are you simply sending email, or are you using cloud-based services, transferring big chunks of data or hosting webinars on the regular?

The better you understand your business needs, the better you’ll be able to choose an Internet plan that keeps up – all without breaking the bank by paying for more speed than you actually require.

The three steps that follow can help you assess your business bandwidth needs.

Step 1: Consider your current speed

Start by taking a look at your current plan and consider how it’s measuring up. Are you getting what you need from it? And if your business is growing, do you need to expand your bandwidth too?

You can also take a speed test like this one to measure the bandwidth you have available. Testing regularly, at different times of the day, can help you see if your needs are growing, or if something else is slowing you down.

Step 2: Look at any outside factors

Your own usage may not be the only thing affecting the speed of your connection. Line congestion may be causing a problem, or it could be that the type of network you’re on doesn’t work with your needs. Alternatively, your devices, software or operating system may be the problem.

To understand whether your bandwidth is slowing down due to outside factors, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a dedicated connection? A dedicated Internet connection offers a fixed bandwidth you don’t have to share with others – meaning you’ll have less downtime.
  • How is your Internet delivered? When a lot of people are online, cable Internet connections – unlike fibre, satellite or fixed wireless connections – can sometimes get slowed down.

  • Do you have a business plan? Businesses will sometimes try to save money by signing up for a residential plan instead. But business plans are designed for business – which means they offer the bandwidth businesses need to keep up.

  • Is your technology up to date? Finally, it could be that there’s no problem with your connection itself. Rather, the devices you’re using may not fully support the speed available to you, or you may need to update your software or operating system instead.

Step 3: Assess your current and future business needs

The final step is to look at how your business uses the Internet every day – and how many employees are using it. Both will affect your bandwidth requirements. To get a realistic sense of your needs, then, consider the following:

  • What are the activities you regularly use the Internet for? Are cloud-based work, data downloads and web browsing part of your day to day? What about video conferencing and file sharing? Each online activity your business takes on adds to your bandwidth needs. So start adding them up. The estimates in the chart below will give you a starting point.

Business function

Bandwidth needs

Web browsing

0.33 Mbps

Email with no attachments

1 Mbps

VoIP calls

1 Mbps

Cloud back-up

2 Mbps

Cloud computing

2 Mbps

Data transfer

2 Mbps

Social media scheduling

2 Mbps

Online banking

2 Mbps

Video conferencing

4 Mbps

High-definition video

4 Mbps

Cloud-based services

5 Mbps

File sharing

5 Mbps

Instant messaging

5 Mbps

Online streaming

5 Mbps

Uploading photos

5 Mbps

Email with attachments

15 Mbps

VoIP video calls

28 Mbps

  • How many employees are using your Internet? Consider the day-to-day needs of all of your employees, multiplying the number of employees by all of the tasks above that they take on. Them add it all together, including some buffer space for days when they’re more overloaded than usual. The result you come up with will give you an idea of the type of bandwidth you’ll require.

While this is just an estimate, it can give you a starting point to judge your bandwidth requirements. But if the number you come up with seems wrong, maybe you’re forgetting some day-to-day tasks. Or maybe you need to revisit your plan to see if there’s something else going on that’s getting in the way of you connection.

Find out more about Xplore Business’ business connectivity options.