Some time ago, it was unimaginable on this scale, but now it is increasingly becoming the standard: home office. The Corona pandemic has led to an enormous increase in the number of people working from home. As a result, last year home office, homeschooling and videoconferencing even caused the data volume at Germany’s largest Internet node, DE-CIX in Frankfurt am Main, to grow by almost a terabit – per second! While nationwide network capacities still had plenty of room to grow, things often look quite different in households. Often the bandwidth is not enough and suddenly you were just a still image in the video conference.
But the topic of home offices will remain in the future, even when the first employees return to the companies and the students return to school. However, this will only work with sufficient bandwidth. That’s why this should be carefully considered when it comes to the Internet connection. If several household members want to work at the same time, more bandwidth must be provided for the Internet connection. Anyone who frequently has to take part in video conferences for their work should find out in advance how much bandwidth the various tools require. This is the only way to ensure that all conference participants receive a sharp and smooth image on their PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Those who run their home office in the countryside and do not have a fiber-optic connection often have to contend with the fact that their DSL connection simply offers too little bandwidth for the home office. In this case, Internet via satellite with Starlink is a good option.
How much bandwidth do I need for my home office?
There is no general answer to this question. It all depends on what activities you perform in your home office and what applications you use for them. Some activities, such as sending e-mails or editing documents online, can be done without problems with low bandwidth. Participating in video conferences, on the other hand, requires more bandwidth.
Two megabits per second are considered the minimum requirement for the home office. But often the transmission bandwidth is limited by the provider. Anyone who wants to know how much bandwidth is actually available from their Internet connection can find out with a speed test. To do this, test data is transferred between the client and a measurement server. The client software is provided by most providers either directly via the browser or can be downloaded as an app. For the most correct measurement results, the provider should make several independent measurement servers available.
How much bandwidth do I need for video conferencing?
Successful participation in videoconferencing requires that you check that your bandwidth is sufficient for the particular tool you want to use. Different parameters drive bandwidth requirements for video conferencing:
- Resolution setting of the webcam
- Make and model of the webcam used
- Frames per second (fps)
- Number of cameras enabled in the meeting
- Bandwidth usage by other activities of the video conference, for example screen sharing
The following table provides typical examples of bandwidth requirements for conducting video conferences. Frame rate determines how the video conferencing call handles motion, while resolution determines how many pixels make up the image and, as a result, how much detail users perceive.
|384 kbps||CIF||30 fps|
|512 kbps||4CIF||15 fps|
|768 kbps||4CIF||30 fps|
|1 Mbps||HD720||15 fps|
|2 Mbps||HD720||30 fps|
|4 Mbps||HD720||60 fps|
|6 Mbps||HD1080||30 fps|
|~7 Mbps||HD1080||60 fps|
kbps: Kilobit per second
Mbps: Megabit per second
CIF: Common Intermediate Format
HD: High Definition
fps: Frames per second
Certainly, in most cases you don’t need to conduct a video conference in 4K quality, but you also don’t want the session to be pixelated or interrupted during the call.
For this, it’s worth looking at what the minimum requirements are for common video conferencing tools. These are listed below.
Required bandwidth for Microsoft Teams
|30 kbps||Audio calls|
|1.2 Mbps||Video calls in HD quality with 720p|
|1.5 Mbps||Video calls in HD quality with 1080p|
|500 kbps to 1 Mbps||Group video calls|
Required bandwidth for Zoom
Video calls with two participants:
|600 kbps (upload/download)||High quality transmission|
|1.2 Mbps (upload/download)||Video calls in HD quality with 720p|
|1.8 Mbps (upload/download)||Receive 1080p HD quality video|
|1.8 Mbps (upload/download)||Sending video in HD quality with 1080p|
For group video calls:
|800 kbps or 1.0 Mbps (upload/download)||High quality transmission|
|1.5 Mbps (upload/download)||Video calls in HD quality with 720p|
|2.5 Mbps (upload/download)||Receive video in HD quality with 1080p|
|3 Mbps (upload/download)||Send video in HD quality with 1080p|
Required bandwidth for Webex
|2.5 Mbps (receive) and 3 Mbps (transmit)||HD video|
|1 Mbps (receive) and 1.5 Mbps (transmit)||High quality video|
|500 kbps (receive) and 500 kbps (transmit)||Standard quality video|
Required bandwidth for Google Meet
|2.6 Mbps (receive) and 3.2 Mbps (transmit)||HD video conferencing with two participants|
|3.2 Mbps (receive) and 3.2 Mbps (transmit)||Video conferencing for groups|
Ideal bandwidth per participant
Required bandwidth for GoToMeeting
The bandwidth depends on which functions are used. For example, more bandwidth is used for the screen transmission of a PowerPoint presentation with several slide changes than for a presentation with a single image.
In general, the following average data usage values can be applied to the bandwidth usage of a session:
|700 kbps||Webcam transmission|
|40 kbps||Screen transmission|
|40 kbps||Computer audio|
Generally, an available bandwidth of at least 1 Mbps is recommended if all 3 functions are to be used during a session. With less bandwidth, the session will still run, but the quality will suffer.
Required bandwidth for Skype
|1,2 Mbps (upload/download)||HD|
|400 Kbit/s (upload/download)||SD|
The more participants, the higher the bandwidth requirement for downloads. Upload requirements remain constant.