Internet Bandwidth

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Internet Bandwidth describes the maximum data transfer rate of a network or Internet connection. It measures how much data can be sent over a specific connection in a given amount of time. For example, a gigabit Ethernet connection has a bandwidth of 1,000 Mbps.

Is bandwidth the same as internet speed

These are usually the same for your LAN connections but not always for your WAN connection to the internet.

Definition: Speed is bit rate of the circuit while bandwidth is the amount of “speed” available for use. As an example, a 500 Megabit Ethernet MPLS service which uses a 1 Gigabit Ethernet connection to site would have a bandwidth of 500Mbps and a speed of 1 Gbps.

Most ISP's sell connections based upon Download and upload bandwidth. If you purchase 1 Gbps internet bandwidth connection and your firewall only has a 100 Mbps interface, this means your 100 speed interface will limit the 1 Gpbs bandwidth to a 100 Mbps speed.

It is very common for ISP's to market the download bandwidth of their internet connections but they are selling you both a download and upload bandwidth. It is just as important for you to be aware of your upload bandwidth availability as your download bandwidth availability.

Understanding Download vs Upload

When hosting servers such as Web Servers, FTP Servers, SIP Based Server using SIP Trunks or Cameras available to the internet your bandwidth becomes all about the upload not the download! Why because your ISP are limiting your Bandwidth’s UPLOAD.

Simple Internet Browsing

When you browse the internet, such as when you go to google home page and search the internet, you typically enter less than 25 characters and press enter, then google sends you pages of information which could be greater than 1,000 of characters. So what just happened …. You uploaded the 25 characters, then downloaded the 1,000 of characters which you will read or million of bytes if the search returns pictures. This works good for you the individual user, your ISP has given you a 250 Mpbs Download and a 5 Mbps UPload, but on the Server Side (in this case google servers) they downloaded your 25 characters and sent (uploaded) 1,000 of characters or million of bytes UP to you.

File Downloads and File Uploads

Have you ever noticed that Windows is downloading Operating system updates while your working on your computer, or if you leave your computer on during the night hours while your sleeping, Or if you have configured your internet browsers correctly they automatically update when you click on Firefox to browse the internet. Or possibly your child is updating her favorite application. Typically you might not notice the application downloads but you may have noticed the times when your kids uploaded their entire library of picture to their Google or Microsoft Drives. These files have lots of meagbytes and depending upon the quantity and available upload bandwidth can take hours to upload.

Voice and Video

Now let us understand IP based Voice known as SIP trunks for business based PBX's or VoIP for short.

First of all with VoIP you don’t type much, just the phone number you are dialing and this gets sent in 5060 SIP traffic called the SIP header (very few characters). So to initiate a call you are simply sending several thousand characters in SIP headers so your not using a lot of your available upload bandwidth yet. Once the call is answered both parties start talking and sending and receiving RTP packets called media (the voice/sound of the phone conversation. So VoIP conversations are downloading the to you the packets you hear and uploading to the other side of the conversation the packets you speak. For either side of the conversation you do not want these packets to arrive at the other end of the conversation out of order or delayed, if they do you have poor voice quality.

Now compare this to a large file or single photograph you send over the internet via your email application. With this type of communication over the internet the packets that compose the picture can be delayed or arrive out of order to the other end of the email conversation. Because the email application simply collects the packets waits for the delayed packets and reorders them and displays them on your screen and you don’t notice what happened. Now imagine you are sending many pictures (frames) like a movie stream and the packets arrive out of order or are delayed. Like each mail and each picture in each email were out of order or delayed so you viewed them in the wrong order, our movie viewing experience is not so smooth and enjoyable. So you probably have guessed it a real movie that you view over Netflix or Google Youtube.TV is getting transported via a RTP stream just like a SIP Voip conversation. You never want a RTP stream to have out of order packets or delayed packet because you will see and hear the problem. So to review a picture sent in an email is simply a bunch of data packets that can travel through the internet out of order and delayed and your application responsible for viewing that data on your computer or smartphone will put the packets back in order and display them correctly, whereas, VoIP and Movies are RTP streams that the application is displaying in REAL TIME as you talk on the phone or watch the movie. Since it has to deal with the packets in real time it cannot wait to display packets that are out of order or delayed.

How to best resolve issues that relate to low available bandwidth

When you are low on available bandwidth, this means you will start to experience slow internet browsing, slow file uploads and downloads but they will most likely work. Your only frustration will be your lost time. But when you have low available bandwidth your Netflix experience or VoIP phone conversation will be much more frustrating. If your trying to watch the Tigers win the World Series and you have to reboot your Xbox while your favorite Tiger hits a home run, you may have to wait 20 years to experience it again. Or maybe your on the telephone and your customer/or boss and they are saying I don't want to order that part, but because your conversation broke up you heard I want to order that part, so you order a $10,000 dollar part and will have to return it with a 20% restocking fee. So what can we do to help resolve this issue.

Quality of Service "QoS" Mapping on Network Switches and Devices

Quality of Service (QoS) is a feature of routers and switches which prioritizes traffic so that more important traffic can pass first. The result is a performance improvement for critical network traffic. QoS equipment is useful with VoIP phones or in LANs with high volumes of local traffic.

Your devices that connect to your LAN and internet, typically support QoS capabilities. But here is the problem your ISP will not follow the QoS tagging your LAN provides. Yes, you should properly setup your network for QoS but you can only control how efficient your LAN is at getting the packets to your front door once it is on the internet you don't have any control the internet doesn't care about your priorities.

Purchasing the Right Amount of Bandwidth

So now that you see you are able to set traffic priority on your LAN but that these priorities only are for getting packets out your WAN (upload) and not into your WAN (download) the only real solution for poor quality voice caused by low bandwidth availability is to get more bandwidth. You also now should understand that RTP traffic of Voice and Video are the applications that are most affected by low bandwidth availability. And it is the Upload bandwidth that is the most costly bandwidth to purchase from your ISP, and if you are running FTP or Web Servers it is the bandwidth that these servers need most to operate efficiently. Finally you understand it is the uploading of information to the internet that most competes with your need for equal amounts of VoIP packet RTP streams up and down during a voice conversation.

Purchasing SIP Trunking Bandwidth

CTS Telecom sells SIP Based connections (trunks) which directly connect to our CTS PSTN based telco switch to efficiently connect your SIP Capable PBX to the PSTN so you can communicate to the world with the most reliable network and know that your voice quality will not have to suffer from the unknowns of the internet. CTS SIP dedicated trunk connections ensure that the only traffic which flows between your PBX and our CTS PSTN based infrastructure are the packets intended for high voice quality. To help ensure this we monitor the bandwidth usage and connection and enure that low available bandwidth will not be the problem.

Speed Testing via your PC

Often many customers run speed-test via popular speed-test sites, and especially when they are experiencing slow internet, or low available bandwidth. The problem doing this is you already have low available bandwidth so the test will really only provide you with the bandwidth available to your PC at the time you run the test. What you really need to do is shutdown all other devices connected to your internet circuit and run the test, or better said connect a laptop to your WAN connection (ie. where your firewall is configured). But it is still possible that your laptop or laptop firewall software is slowing your speed-test results.

Security services running on the laptop can greatly affect the results of a speed test. Window’s Firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus tools must inspect the data that flows in and out of the network interface on your computer. This can greatly impact the results of speed test services. Try disabling all security services, like windows firewall and running anti-virus services before testing. Be careful if attempting (3) below as you will be connecting directly to the internet without any security, and this is NOT advisable.

So here are the most reliable ways for you to determine if you have a poor internet connection.

  1. Have CTS run a certified speed-test directly connected to your internet circuit (ie. where the firewall is configured)
    • Technician charge will occur at the current CTS hourly rates
    • This test could take up to 1 to 2 hrs
    • This test will provide you with the most detailed information about your circuits configuration and abilities.
    • CTS internal support charges may occur, it is advisable to contact CTS and let us know your testing.
  2. Have CTS Open the bandwidth to your internet connection and monitor your internet usage for up to 1 week.
    • This test will monitor your connection's bandwidth usage by the minute and produce graphs of your Download / Upload usage during the 1 week
    • This test doesn't require and downtime on your circuit.
    • This test will cost $65.00 to setup configuration and provide you with a report.
  3. Test with a laptop using a speed-test site directly connected to your internet circuit (ie. where the firewall is configured)
    • You can do this yourself, all you have to do is set your laptop to the network setting of your firewall.
    • This test will require downtime on your circuit while you are testing.
    • This test may still not be accurate as it depends upon many factors
      • Laptop setup
      • Laptop operating system can affect speeds
      • Speed-test site selected may be having issues.

Results to many speed test sites can vary significantly from day to day. CTS recommends trying several sites to validate your speed. The following sites tend to achieve the best results.

  1. (Select “CTS Telecom”)