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November 16, 2023

How to Determine Bandwidth Needs for Your Small Business



There are many factors that come into play when choosing an internet plan for your small business. There are different pricing tiers that depend upon how much bandwidth the plan provides. But how do you figure out how much bandwidth your startup or small business needs?  

In this article, we explain what bandwidth is, how it relates to internet speed, and what factors affect your company’s usage. We’ll explain your internet connection options and how to calculate your bandwidth requirements.  

What is Bandwidth and Why Does it Matter?

Bandwidth, measured in megabits per second (Mbps), is the maximum capacity of your connection and dictates how fast you can send and receive data over that connection—which is critical for your online business operations. 

The Relationship Between Internet Speed and Bandwidth

The bandwidth of your internet connection affects your internet speed, but the speed can never be greater than the bandwidth. A common analogy is that bandwidth is the size of a faucet, and data is the water flowing through it.     

What are Factors That Affect Your Bandwidth? 

A company’s bandwidth requirements depend on what the internet is used for, and how many people use it simultaneously. Bandwidth-intensive applications include video conferencing and network hosting, and users can include staff, customers, and partners.   

What Type of Internet Services are Available to Small Businesses? 

The four types of business internet service are DSL, satellite, cable, and fiber-optic. DSL (which uses the telephone landline) is the slowest, then satellite and cable internet. Fiber-optic business internet is the fastest.  

Best High-Speed Internet for Small Business Use 

A small business needs to compete with larger organizations. How can they do this? One way is to have a robust internet connection and a strong online presence. It may be hosting an online store, hosting frequent video conferences for staff, investors and business associates, or providing instructional videos on your company website. All of these activities demonstrate business expertise, and they all require greater bandwidth and speed than basic applications like email and web browsing. For these types of advanced uses, a fiber-optic connection is highly recommended.  

How to Estimate Your Small Business Bandwidth Needs? 

Determine approximately how much bandwidth your small business needs by listing the types of applications you currently use and may wish to use in the future. Consider how many people will be using your connection. 

Internet Usage and Bandwidth Requirements 

It may seem that the greater the bandwidth of your connection, the faster the speed will be. However, it also depends on how many devices are connected and what the users are doing. For example, if your small business has a 500 Mbps cable connection, and two team members are having a video conference call with a business partner, each person will have a bandwidth of 250 Mbps. 

Here is a sampling of business applications. Note that this is just an estimate, as there can be other factors that influence bandwidth requirements and upload/download speeds, such as your office network configuration, devices, operating systems and the applications running on each person’s computer system. 

Single-person activities: 

  • Basic web browsing and research – .33 Mbps 

  • Email (sending/receiving), light Wi-Fi use, VoIP calls (audio-only) – 1 Mbps  

  • Cloud computing, cloud backup, data transfer, internet banking, social media, uploading large files – 2 Mbps 

  • HD video, video conferencing – 4 Mbps 

  • Other cloud services, file-sharing, messaging app, uploading photos – 5 Mbps 

  • Webinar streaming, remote training courses – 5+ Mbps (more for HD video) 

  • Email with attachments – 15 Mbps 

  • VoIP calls (video) – 28 Mbps 

Consider these examples as your team grows: 

  • Business communications, downloading large files, basic Wi-Fi use (3-5 users) – 25 Mbps 

  • Regular file sharing, online POS (point-of-sale) transactions, video streaming (5-10 users) – 75 Mbps 

  • Cloud-based computing (e.g., company-wide periodic data backups), video meetings, webinars (10-15 users) – 150 Mbps 

  • Network server hosting (e.g., an e-commerce store or client portal), frequent video conferences, seamless video streaming (15-20 users) – 250 Mbps 

  • Heavy cloud computing (such as data analytics applications), heavy cloud-based backups, hosting multiple servers in-house (25-30 users) – 500 Mbps 

  • Highly connected business with a large client base and critical online infrastructure (30 or more users) – 1GG (1,000 Mbps) 

Keep in mind that as your business grows, so will your bandwidth needs. Do you have new team members and other individuals who will be included in video calls? Do you use online customer resource management (CRM) software? Are you building a multimedia website or launching an e-commerce store to sell your products? Even if this website is hosted by an outside party, team members will still need to upload files frequently. 

Calculate Your Company’s Bandwidth Requirements 

To calculate the bandwidth needs for your small business, you’ll need to list applications as well as the number of people engaging in that activity. 

List All Internet Activities 

Make a list of all internet-related activities that you and your staff engage in as part of your daily operations. Include everything that requires an internet connection, from Google Docs and online spreadsheets to online banking, market research, business productivity tools, file uploading, and video conferencing. Consider periodic activities that you may have in the future, such as business filings or sending large files to potential partners, investors, and clients.  

Estimate Bandwidth Use for Each Application 

With the internet usage list above, write down the amount of bandwidth for each activity you’ve listed.  

Account for the Number of People Performing Each Task 

Round up to ensure that you leave room for additional users and multiply these numbers with the bandwidths to come up with the total needed for each internet use.    

Add Up Subtotals for the Total Bandwidth Requirement 

Add up all these totals for each internet activity to get the bandwidth requirement for your small business.  

Having enough internet bandwidth to support everything your company will be doing online, smoothly and consistently, is vital, especially for a small business trying to make an excellent first impression and expand its customer base.    

WOW! Business Internet – The Speed That You Need 

WOW! Business Internet is the best choice for your small business if you’re looking for 99.9% network reliability and the flexibility of different plans to best suit your needs. Experience seamless video conferencing, streaming, and server hosting with a lightning-fast fiber internet connection. Our business internet plans include business-friendly features like dedicated internet access with speeds up to 10 Gig, static IPs, ethernet transport, Hosted VoIP, and data center and colocation. We deliver the speed, reliability, security, and value you need, with 24/7 technical support. 

Call WOW! Business today to get started.