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Video conferencing network requirements: delivering the best user experience

Author: Satta Sarmah Hightower

Your company is having an important meeting on a video conferencing platform. Hundreds of employees and executives from around the globe have dialed in to attend. But bandwidth and connectivity issues are causing pixelated images of speakers, choppy audio and login problems for several participants. Sound familiar?

This scenario has become all too common as more companies shift to remote work. To resolve these issues, companies need a better understanding of video conferencing network requirements and video conferencing latency.

What makes a poor video conferencing experience?

Downtime and latency are often caused by network or integration issues—two factors usually responsible for poor video conferencing experiences.

As more companies move to a hybrid work environment, with workers splitting their time between home and the office—or in some cases, working remotely full-time—the security, speed and performance of their networks will become even more critical. IT teams must be laser-focused on minimizing downtime to ensure that business-critical systems and applications remain accessible, and they must focus on resolving latency issues so that employees can send and receive the information they need without delay and remain productive.

Challenges of remote work

Remote employees are likely relying on Wi-Fi networks that often have slower connection speeds and lower bandwidth than what they're accustomed to in the office. As well, employees connected to your company's applications and internal systems through virtual private networks (VPNs) can experience connectivity and performance issues. VPNs are great for security, but many of them are not designed to handle high workloads or high-bandwidth activities, such as live streaming digital content.

Integration issues are another challenge. Your company-owned devices might be outdated or they might be incompatible with some video conferencing platforms. If your video conferencing provider has a sharp focus on endpoint security, it might not allow certain devices to connect to its platform. And even if these devices are able to access the platform, they still might deliver a poor user experience. For example, features such as virtual backgrounds might not work and users might experience a one-second delay in the video transmission.

To minimize these issues, your IT organization must understand your video conferencing provider's system requirements. For example, the system requirements for Webex vary based on several factors such as the make and model of the web camera, the camera's resolution and the number of activated cameras on the network. However, maximum bandwidth consumption ranges from 0.5 Mbps to receive and send standard quality video to 2.5 Mbps and 3.0 Mbps to receive and send high-definition video, respectively.

Understanding your network's performance and the system requirements of various video conferencing solutions can help avoid connectivity issues by cluing you into network changes you could make that match your evolving business needs. At the very least, you should be able to quickly troubleshoot issues when they occur.

Network and connectivity solutions

Delivering the best video conferencing experience may require changes to your network infrastructure. More companies are adopting managed SD WAN solutions to better manage network demands. With an SD WAN solution, you can segment traffic and find the best path to deliver high-priority network traffic to and from business-critical applications.

It is also critical to look at your network activity and the number of users on the network as they fluctuate throughout the day. Developing a better understanding of when activity is high and low can help your IT team assess the bandwidth bump needed to improve network performance. In some cases, you might be able to reserve bandwidth for video conferencing traffic when the network hits a capacity threshold, minimizing latency issues that cause a poor user experience.

There are several ways to optimize network bandwidth. Options include using network monitoring tools to reduce downtime and latency, moving some applications to the cloud, using a managed SD WAN solution, or creating acceptable use policies that minimize shadow IT and prevent nonbusiness traffic from being transported across the network.

In an unpredictable work environment, employees need to be able to work from anywhere at any time and from any device. Whether your employees are using a smartphone, desktop or tablet to connect to a virtual meeting, your organization must be prepared to handle the demands of hundreds—if not thousands—of employees accessing the corporate network at once.

Video conferencing is an integral part of the workplace because it’s a safe and effective way for long-distance teams to collaborate and maintain a sense of camaraderie. Downtime and latency issues disrupt not only the conferencing experience, but also employees' ability to connect and collaborate. There has never been a more critical time to assess and address your video conferencing network requirements.

Learn more about Verizon's Audio and Video Conferencing options.