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zippekat
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Measuring bandwidth usage

Some years ago now, VM used to send broadband usage reports showing consumption, which I haven't seen recently.

How do the experts here 'size' the connection you need - 100/150/200/350 Mbps?

Is there any way to figure out how much of the bandwidth paid for is actually being consumed?

Turning it round, how much bandwidth do I need for two concurrent Teams/Zoom video conferences, ignoring the differences between the two platforms and assuming (if relevant) 4-6 participants? This is my maximal use case.

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Andrew-G
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

Work out your likely bandwidth use from the following:

Streaming HD video: 5 Mbps

Streaming 4K video: 20 Mbps

Gaming: 2.5 Mbps up and down

Videoconferencing: Normally 5 Mbps maximum, often dynamically lower

Web browsing: less than 2 Mbps 

Doesn't matter how many gamers or call participants there are, all that's handled by the server.  Few people max out even a 200 Mbps connection, and the only time it gets stretched is the odd heavy download from a fast server (or speed testing).  Might be different if you're a video editor, a code developer, or the like, but regardless, even if you won't make any good use of a 1 Gbps connection, but you simply want that speed, it's your money and your right to choose that.

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zippekat
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

Very helpful, @Andrew-G - thank you!

Does your figure for streaming approximate to a TiVo box, or does it have significant overheads?

If I take a worst case of

  • someone watching a movie on TiVo or streaming direct to their device (5 Mbps)
  • two distinct connections on two separate videoconferences (2x 5 Mbps)
  • four passive tablets/phones connected to WiFi and consuming bandwidth for IM/mail/social/background refreshes <5 Mbps)

then I'm still up to about 25 Mbps. So are most people paying for ultra-fast broadband (>100 Mbps) just not likely to using it all? Totally appreciate your point about it being their choice.

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lotharmat
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

If it is the VM TiVo box - it has its own modem and is not part of your speed package!



------------------------------------------------------------------
Hub 3 - Modem Mode - TP-Link Archer C7

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zippekat
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

Yes it is the VM TiVo box, so that is good to know, @lotharmat. Thank you.

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Z92
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

The other point you have to consider is upload bandwidth, which is typically not advertised well. For example, the 100mbps package comes with 10mbps of upload bandwidth, which isn't enough for me, so I have to use the higher speed plan simply for better upload speeds. I will rarely max out the 100mbps connection (except for downloading), but have to use 200mbps simply for the 20 mbps upload speed.

Before VM, I had BT FTTC, which was 50mbps down and 20mbps up, and it was sufficient for my needs, but the cable degraded, I had constant disconnections and resyncs, and BT refused to install a new cable whilst VM offered to install one.

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Andrew-G
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

@zippekat So are most people paying for ultra-fast broadband (>100 Mbps) just not likely to using it all? Totally appreciate your point about it being their choice.

Absolutely.  Even in this house, where we have a 200 Mbps connection and other than making a very few large downloads faster we will never, ever fully utilise the download bandwidth.  It is always worth having plenty of headroom on your expected maximum use, but ISP marketing has always pushed faster speeds as providing better service without being honest about what customers might actually need.  Many gamers get sucked in by this, and commit to very high bandwidth contracts, when what they actually need is minimal bandwidth but rock solid and low latency.  On a good VM line they won't notice the difference, but at a technical level Openreach FTTC is almost always a better bet for reliable and low latency despite its lower speeds.

Another common issue is customers (sometimes encouraged by VM agents) upgrading their speed in the hope of solving some problem or other - in practice, nobody should ever upgrade their contract unless they have faultless performance on the existing deal, otherwise they'll pay more, have a longer lock-in, and still have the underlying performance issue.

There is one caveat about my "probably don't need the speed" argument, and that's upload.  On 100 Mbps the upload speed is a rather weak 10 Mbps, whereas on 200 it's a much healthier 20 Mbps.  If uploading a lot (eg videos or photos to cloud storage services) then it can make more sense to take a faster connection purely for the upload.  In instances of three or more users wanting to use video conferencing at the same time, it is feasible to saturate the upload of a 10 Mbps line - in theory the software (Teams, Houseparty, Zoom etc) should cope with any upload bandwidth limits gracefully, but I can't say how well that works in practice, although I suspect it all becomes a little grainy and a bit glitchy.

For me, the sweet spot remains 200/20, because that is more than good enough both up and down, but worth giving some thought to upload, I can easily understand some people need faster for that.  If you wanted a formula for typical users, then allow 70 down and 3 up per computer-active household member, then take the collective demand and go for whatever tier gives you the minimum of either of those.

So two users = 140 down, 6 up, meaning a 200/20 connection

Three users = 210 down, 9 up, actually just within the 200/20 because VM speeds aren't rounded and you'll get 210 down

Five users = 350 down, 15 Mbps up, so the 350/36 speed tier.

If anyone's a video editor or software developer those won't apply.

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Z92
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

Well put Andrew-G, although if someone is working from home, I'd actually increase those uploads a bit. I've tried to video conference on teams over a mobile data connection before (when VM has gone down) and the results were not that good - it seemed fine to me but other people were complaining about both the video and audio quality of my connection, and after measuring it, seemed I was getting about 35+ mbps down and about 5 mbps up. The latency was about 35ms according to some tests.

Still works out to the same plan though 🙂

 

zippekat
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Re: Measuring bandwidth usage

Super helpful, @Andrew-G. You've really helped me make my mind up that there's no need to pay for the M200 that I am doing now! Thanks very much!
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