What bandwidth do you need and what to consider before you buy

Office Bandwidth Requirement

Just how much bandwidth is enough for your business? This is a question we get asked all the time. Advertising companies turn heads by encouraging you to go faster. Everyone is looking for the fastest product available to them. But what do you actually need?

Let’s put terms such as ‘superfast’, ‘ultrafast’ and ‘hyperfast’ aside for a moment and forget all about Usain Bolt. Instead this article looks at the facts. What will you be doing in your office and how much bandwidth will that use whilst you’re doing it? Throughout this piece you need to remember that your internet usage will have peaks and troughs. Not everyone will be doing something at the same time, so it’s not the case of adding it all together to find the magic number.

The graph to the right is from one of our performance monitoring tools and shows upload (top) and download (bottom) activity. This shows a client who has one of our 50Mbps leased lines. You can see that they have reached 100% of their allocated download bandwidth (50Mbps) at 08:45. This happened on a regular basis, and we have already increased this to 100Mbps for them.

So what activities impact your bandwidth? What do you need to consider?

Unless you are on a dedicated leased line, the first thing to impact your bandwidth will be other internet users. That’s right. Before you have even started using your internet, you have to consider what everyone else is doing in the vicinity. That doesn’t necessarily mean your own staff either. Broadband services are usually lower cost because you share the internet, and therefore speeds will differ depending on the time of day. This is why businesses purchase leased lines so they have their own internet service, untouched by others.

Contention, as it’s called, can be a huge issue for some companies. Imagine that your fibre broadband service has been installed, but then you realise there are hundreds of other connections in the area are all going back to the same street cabinet. Possibly the company next to you is a graphic design agency and are constantly downloading and uploading large files all day. It could be a problem. Next, let’s look at some specific uses that can impact your bandwidth.


Min. down/up (ps) Recommended (ps)
Calling 30kb / 30kb 100kb / 100kb
Video calling 128kb / 128kb 300kb / 300kb
Video calling (high-quality) 400kb / 400kb 500kb / 500kb
Video calling (HD) 1.2Mb / 1.2Mb 1.5Mb / 1.5Mb
Group video (3 people) 512kb / 128kb 2Mb / 512kb
Group video (5 people) 2Mb / 128kb 4Mb / 512kb
Group video (7+) 4Mb / 128kb 8Mb / 512kb



The bandwidth required by Skype depends on the type of calls you want to make. Check the following information for the minimum and recommended speeds for best performance.

If you are signed in to Skype but not making any calls, Skype will use on average 0-4kbps. When you make a call, Skype will use on average between 24-128kbps.

The table to the left provides the minimum download and upload speeds required, as well as the recommended speeds for best performance of Skype calls and video. Further information can be found from the Skype Support Website.

Audio calls should be possible with most internet connections. Video calls use a lot more bandwidth, so if you are having issues with the quality of your video calls, we recommend closing all your open applications and cancelling any file uploads that may be in progress. If you still have issues, please call us on 0203 475 3610 or email


Rate Ethernet
Video Conferencing 192K 230K
384K 460K
512K 614K
768K 920K
HD Video Conferencing 1024K 1.2M
1472K 1.8M
1920K 2.3M
3840K 4.6M
4026K 4.9M

Video Conferencing

The most significant difference between traditional H.323 video conferencing and HD video conferencing is the increased bandwidth demand. Whereas a traditional video conferencing connection might use 384Kbps or 512Kbps of transport bandwidth, the HD systems can use as much as 4 Mbps of audio and video transport.

To understand the network impact, IP overhead has to be added onto these values. The requirement of increased bandwidth demand can be addressed not only by dimensioning the network but also adopting features such as Polycom’s H.264 High Profile. The use of H.264 High Profile provides higher video resolutions at a given call speed, or the same resolution at a lower call speed. Table 1 below shows typical transport rates for video conferencing and for HD video conferencing. The second column of the table shows the demand placed on the network using Ethernet technology.

More information can be found from the Polycom website.


Compressed Uncompressed
1 VoIP call 25Kbps 80Kbps
10 VoIP calls 250Kbps 800Kbps
100 VoIP calls 2.5Mbps 8Mbps

Rates shown are for concurrent calls.



Typically VoIP calls (uncompressed) require about 80k, or 25k (compressed). Knowing this, users will be able to better calculate how much bandwidth they’ll need based on how many concurrent lines they plan on having. For example, if a business has 15 concurrent lines and each requires 80k, users are going to need 1200k of bandwidth. Separate from this, users can utilise compression to reduce the amount of bandwidth needed. More information can be found from the Yealink website.


Approx. Kbps.
Mobile – normal quality ~96Kbps
Mobile – high quality ~160Kbps
Desktop/web standard quality ~160Kbps
Desktop/web standard quality ~320Kbps
Mobile – extreme quality ~320Kbps


There are a number of companies who have Spotify playing in the background, or allow their staff to listen to their own Spotify account with headphones on. But do you know how much bandwidth it uses? Is your business suffering as a result? If 10 staff l have premium accounts and are able to listen at 320Kbps then they’re utilising 3.2Mbps of your available bandwidth.

More information about bitrate and streaming can be found from the Spotify website.





We have listed just a few common uses of business internet. As the Internet of Things becomes more and more of a reality, there will be further devices and applications requiring the internet. The internet industry is keeping ahead of demand and can already deliver dedicated leased lines, and in the future we are set to see the roll out of broadband with download speeds of 300Mbps over your standard phone line.