Slow internet can be a big problem for many businesses, especially in those where operations are dependent on cloud technologies or hosted applications. Not only is it frustrating when things don’t run quickly, but it’s also a drain on employee productivity.
Your IT provider and internet service provider surely did their due diligence before recommending the amount of bandwidth that you’d need to run smoothly. They likely evaluated the number of regular users, how many devices that would be connecting, what kinds of applications your business uses, and many more items to determine the right amount of bandwidth for your operations. So why does it still run slowly?
The first conclusion many people jump to is that they need to buy more internet bandwidth, or that they’re not getting what they’re paying for already.
While it’s possible that your organization doesn’t have the right amount of bandwidth for your needs, that’s not always the case...
Frequently, the problem isn’t how much internet bandwidth you have, but it’s how the internet is actually being used.
When companies begin monitoring their internet traffic, it’s not uncommon to discover that 20 percent to 40 percent of online traffic is on social media sites or streaming music services, such as Pandora or Spotify.
I’ve even seen companies where 80 percent of all online traffic was Facebook and YouTube!
It’s easy to see this and think those employees were just wasting time. I’m sure some were, but a lot of it is unintentional usage.
Here’s a typical situation:
An employee enters the wireless internet password into their phone or tablet, and fires up their favorite Pandora radio station to liven up their day. Or they check Facebook a few times during the day and the videos auto-play. Now that the Wi-Fi password is in their phone, it will automatically connect every time they walk in the door. So from then on, they’ll be using company resources instead of their cellular connection. These services take up a lot of bandwidth and can cause the network to slow down for everyone.
With today’s technology advancements, you can limit or block these activities and get some of your bandwidth back.
1. Have your IT support team implement a content filtering, or internet filtering, solution.
These technologies monitor what people on your network are accessing. When company leaders review the findings, they’re SHOCKED at the types of websites and services their people are visiting using their corporate internet.
With content filtering, you can decide which categories of content you’re going to allow or block. For example, you’ll likely want to block adult and gambling content, but you may want to allow social media for particular individuals. It’s also possible to set availability windows for certain types of content. This could be useful if you don’t mind employees doing online shopping on their lunch break.
2. Have a process for giving out the wireless password, and a process for changing it regularly.
This limits the number of devices that will connect to your wireless network.
3. Create an acceptable use policy that outlines what activities can and can’t be done on your company’s network.
Whether you want to allow things like streaming music and video services depends on your situation. Most employers are fine with employees listening to music on their phone if it makes them happy, but not when it compromises system functionality.
If you have a bandwidth problem, it may be worth having them use their cellular connection instead of streaming it over the internet.
With the amount of information processed through the internet these days, it’s important that executives protect their resources and give some attention to their internet usage. It could save thousands of dollars in internet costs, as well as give back some productive employee time.
As featured in the January 23rd issue of The Press-Enterprise