Day 5: How To Manage Your Bandwidth

This post continues our 20 Day Challenge to understand the technical aspects of videoconferencing.

Another key component of a quality videoconferencing is proper bandwidth management.

First Assess Your Network

  • How much bandwidth are you currently using?
  • Does it sometimes peak to your maximum?

A videoconference of 384K only uses about 400-500K; however, if your bandwidth is full and maxed out; the other traffic can clobber your videoconference so you have very poor quality. If your traffic EVER spikes to the max during school hours when you might have a videoconference, you need to put a solution in place to guarantee the quality of your videoconference. Here are three options:

VLANS

  • Described as a virtual LAN, a VLAN consists of a group of devices/hosts that communicate as if they were on the same broadcast domain, even if not on the same physical location.
  • Example: Most video networks use VLANs to keep their video traffic separate from their normal data traffic. This helps with quality and bandwidth management.

Router QoS

  • Another method is to set quality of service for videoconferencing on the parts of the network that you can control.
  • In Berrien RESA’s case, the schools get their Internet access through us. So we set QoS on their router and on our router. This guarantees the quality of the videoconference between the school and us. This was more essential in the early days of our videoconferencing when the districts had T1s to us. Now most of them are on fiber.

Packet Shaping

  • Another way to guarantee the traffic for the videoconference is by using packet shaping.
  • In Berrien RESA’s case, this is done by using Packeteer to guarantee up to 6 Meg of traffic from our network out to the world for the IP addresses of our videoconference systems and MCU. This means that if our bandwidth out is maxed out; our videoconferences will still be high quality. So far, even on super busy days of 20-30 VCs, we haven’t used more than that 6 Meg.

References

Your Turn

  • How is the health of your network bandwidth?
  • What methods do you use, prefer or recommend for bandwidth management?

Team-written by Janine Lim, Shane Howard, and Roxanne Glaser. The opinions expressed in these posts are based on our collective video conference experience connecting classes across multiple networks to connect them to zoos, museums, experts and other classes during the past 10 years. This series of posts reflects our usage and understanding, not that of any vendor or manufacturer. No one is paying us to write these. We are just sharing what we have learned.

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About Janine Lim

Janine Lim, PhD, currently serves as associate dean for online higher education in the School of Distance Education at Andrews University, in Berrien Springs, MI. She and her team support over 200 online courses, provide training for faculty teaching online, and work with the campus infrastructure support of online learning. Her department also provides educational technology and Moodle support for faculty and students. In addition, Janine is responsible for the faculty and courses of the Consortium of Adventist Colleges and Universities. Janine has taught over 15 unique graduate educational technology classes online numerous times over the past 15 years, with some classes attracting participants from all over the world. Her undergraduate teaching includes social media courses for communication and digital media majors. Janine has served on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association since April 2015. Prior to her work at Andrews University, Janine coordinated distance education for 22 K12 school districts in southwest Michigan for 14 years. In that position, as one of the co-founders of TWICE, Michigan’s K12 Videoconferencing Organization, Janine has spearheaded popular international K12 videoconference projects such as Read Around the Planet and MysteryQuest. While still serving on the board of TWICE, she was instrumental in designing and implementing the CAPspace website for collaborative videoconference projects. Janine also served on a team of Michigan educational technology trainers providing a workshop called ATA Technology Academy. Her current online learning research interests include successful teacher behaviors, quality online discussions, and student activity patterns in self-paced courses.
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One Response to Day 5: How To Manage Your Bandwidth

  1. Pingback: VC Rox » Day 8: The Secret of Optimizing the Network for Video Conferencing

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