All I Want for Christmas is … More Bandwidth

Whatever you are doing for the holidays, there’s one thing that’s sure to be on everyone’s wish list: more network bandwidth.

Think about it.

Changes in the way people work, learn and play mean that networks have to carry more data traffic. At work, you’re likely to be video-conferencing and video calling and you’ve probably attended – or even run – at least a couple of online webinars in the past year. We also know from talking to our customers that streaming video is now a key part of learning delivery. Then there’s Netflix, which is being used both in education and at home. With both Amazon and YouTube entering the streaming video market, it’s going to be even more important.

It’s not just about streaming video. Check around your office, you will find that compared with a couple of years ago, you are using more cloud-based applications. Office, calendar and customer relationship management (CRM) applications are popular, and there are probably others related to your niche. Then there are the cloud backup and disaster recovery applications that keep your business data secure.

The increased use of these technologies means one thing. If you want your internal users to have the same seamless experience they now take for granted at home, then you need more bandwidth. A lot more bandwidth.

That requirement is only going to grow as the numbers of devices needing network connectivity increase. Cisco predicts that network mobile data traffic will surpass 15 exabytes in the next five years, most of that from smartphones and tablets. Another Cisco forecast suggests that by 2018 there will be twice as many connected devices as people and broadband speeds will triple.

The question is: is your network ready?

No-one can say exactly how much bandwidth is enough. HD video is now common and that’s likely to increase bandwidth needs even more. However, that’s not the only issue. As Ars Technica points out, it’s not enough to have the bandwidth; you also have to know how to use it appropriately. That’s where prioritizing network through Quality of Service guidelines becomes important. Ask us how Lumos can help you create a customized network configuration to give you the bandwidth you need when you need it.

Wearing the Web: Wearables and Your Network

The mobile market just got more complex – and that has big implications for customizing your network.

Mobile is already huge, with mobile web traffic doubling in 2013 and on Thanksgiving Day more people surfed the web from mobile devices than desktop devices.

Now, wearable computing is making headlines, turning science fiction into science fact. Wearable computing is exactly what it sounds like – computer technology that you wear. It’s not brand new, of course, but some of it is just making it into the mainstream.

The most popular devices at the moment are smart watches which let you:

  • Receive notifications that you’d normally look at on your smartphone or tablet, such as about calls and SMS messages.
  • Check what’s happening on Facebook.
  • Pair your smartwatch with your phone so you can answer phone calls.

But some of the latest devices, like the Samsung Gear S, include a 3G antenna so you don’t even need a phone to make calls.

Wearable Computing: Network Implications

What is this likely to mean for your network?

We already know about the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, where employees are using their own mobile devices to connect to your network and do work. With huge computing power on their wrists, this trend is likely to increase.

Over in the UK, some people are already preparing for an “internet capacity crunch” because of increased network access requests from mobile devices. We’ve seen that same trend with some of our customers. People are already using mobile devices for bandwidth-heavy applications like streaming video and video conferencing. More mobile access means the need for increased bandwidth as people connect at times that suit them. That trend is likely to continue.

Securing Your Network

But there’s more: as with BYOD, the greatest threat to your network is from users who don’t understand how to keep devices secure. Companies need to have policies in place for:

  • mobile access to your network
  • network and data security

They also have to educate employees so that securing company data, no matter what device they are using, becomes a habit.

Wearables aren’t going away. Some manufacturers have already started shipping smart clothing – and who knows what’s next?

It may take a while to feel the full effect, but it’s wise to prepare now to keep your network secure as wearables extend the mobile boom.

Lumos Customer Profile: Roanoke College

Our latest network customization case study is now in the Customer Profiles section of our site. We talked to Rebecca Sandlin, Chief Information Officer at Roanoke College.

This case study shows how taking a partnership approach to creating a custom fiber network resulted in savings for Roanoke. Rebecca comments: “One of the challenges was increasing our bandwidth with fixed budgets. We worked with Lumos to come up with a creative way to increase our bandwidth without increasing the cost proportionately.”

The customer profile also highlights how device proliferation and the Netflix effect have created higher network bandwidth needs: “Students required more and more bandwidth to do their studies, to do all their research and to provide the applications that actually make college fun like Netflix,” says Lumos Sales Manager Dan Overstreet .

Other issues covered include the need for networks to handle the increased use of educational and cloud-based technology and why system downtime must be eliminated: “The internet had become just like electricity – people immediately noticed if it wasn’t there,” says Rebecca.

Rebecca speaks highly of her interactions with the Lumos sales team. “It’s not just about the sale. They are bright people, good listeners, and I always feel like together we work as true partners.”

Find out how Lumos Networks customized a solution for Roanoke College in Beating the Bandwidth Boom at Roanoke College.

Learn more about changing technology in educational institutions in Customizing the Education Network of the Future