Basic Rules Of Network Planning


Here are bandwidth estimates for common business activities (per staff or user):


  • Basic email, 1 Mbps
  • Cloud backup, 2 Mbps
  • Cloud-based services, 5 Mbps
  • Cloud computing, 2 Mbps
  • Data transfer, 2 Mbps
  • Email with attachments, 15 Mbps
  • File sharing, 5 Mbps/500 Kbps
  • General web browsing, 0.33 Mbps/333 Kbps
  • General Wi-Fi use, 1 Mbps
  • High-definition video (HD video), 4 Mbps
  • Instant messaging, 5 Mbps/500 Kbps
  • Online banking and bookkeeping, 2 Mbps
  • Online research, 33 Mbps/333 Kbps
  • Social media scheduling, 2 Mbps/200 Kbps
  • Streaming a webinar, 5 Mbps (high definition video may require more)
  • Streaming online training courses, 5 Mbps (high definition video may require more)
  • Uploading photos, 5 Mbps
  • Uploading large files, 2-4 Mbps
  • Video conferencing, 4 Mbps
  • VoIP calls, 1 Mbps/100 Kbps
  • VoIP video calls, 28 Mbps Min.
  • Video calling (high-quality) 500 kbps
  • Video calling (HD) 1.5 Mbps
  • Group video (3 people) 2 Mbps
  • Group video (5 people) 4 Mbps
  • Group video (7+) 8 Mbps
  • When devices are connected to your network (wireless):
    • Mobile – normal quality ~96Kbps
    • Mobile – high quality ~160Kbps
    • Desktop/web standard quality ~160Kbps
    • Desktop/web high quality           ~320Kbps
    • Mobile – extreme quality ~320Kbps



Here is a very simple calculation of how much bandwidth is required for a 5 employee business with 5 laptops, 5 smartphones, 5 large smart monitors, 5 users of streaming video conferences 65% of the time, 5 other wireless devices, 5 heavy internet users downloading and uploading files, drawings, data and other large files, the approximate MINIMUM bandwidth requirement is 525 Mbps. This is the minimum required bandwidth for full time performance!

Now when you multiply this process with larger team, plus when you add all other networked and wireless requirements your space will need (sensors, controllers, remote devices, routers, etc.) you will realize that proper bandwidth calculation is a critical component of the reliability and service factor of any business telecom platform.

Keep in mind that even the assessment process to calculate how much bandwidth your business will need is only an estimate. Multiply each of these activities by the number of people in your organization who might be performing them to determine the total amount of bandwidth usage your business requires at any one time.

A good rule of thumb to allow for some headroom is to calculate demand with the above steps and then double it. This ensures your business is ready for busy times and that your infrastructure won’t fall apart when it’s needed most.


Also: Internet providers frequently use the terms “bandwidth” and “speed” interchangeably. In fact, there is a subtle difference between them and some importance about how they impact your network. The service providers will most of the time not want to talk about speed and latency!

Bandwidth: the maximum amount of data that can be transmitted over an Internet connection, as measured in Megabits per second (Mbps).

Speed: the rate at which data can be downloaded (or uploaded) to a given device using that Internet connection, also measured in Megabits per second. There is also something called the “lag time” or also referred to as “Latency” which is shown in milliseconds. This is also an important factor especially when video is used and large files are uploaded.

Bandwidth requirements for business at a glance: (Warning a proper needs assessment must be done by a professional IT expert for proper performance.

– The amount of bandwidth needed for business can vary from 10 x 1 MBPS to 300 x 20 MBPS depending on the number of users and devices using the network.

– Caution: besides counting all of your employees, you’ll also want to factor in clients or customers who may also log onto your network. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need about 10 to 15 Mb per employee.

1 Gbps  (Gigabit) internet :Gigabit internet is one of the fastest internet speeds service providers offer and it’s the most popular option among business internet users. With gigabit speeds, a high-definition (4K) video conference or several hour-long webinar takes mere seconds to download or upload. With Gigabit broadband 100 people can be connected and performing tasks at the same time. Especially recommended when you decide to use Cloud Applications.


Summary:  Network Planning and dimensioning is not nearly so simple as to count the number of users and directly map it to the amount of bandwidth you need. It is highly recommended that a professional IT specialist first makes a full deep dive assessment (Network Planning) of what the needs of the business are going to be also associated with the amount of users. Once this is done the next step would be to select a proper service provider (Not necessarily the company that provides the access) that can bundle all the “internal service requirements of the company. This means not only the internet service provision to each company user but also creating a list of all the devices, equipment, sensors and other connectivity devices which will use the communication bandwidth of the business. Basically, the idea is not just to connect you laptop and smart phone to the internet.

If you have poorly planned your network and under anticipated the needs of your user base, you will experience low performance may be even multiple network outages per day, have unhappy users/employees, and will lose productivity. If you are supporting customers you may start losing them, if they have problems contacting you and exchanging information with you they will lose faith in your abilities.


(If you are considering using Microsoft Suite of tools, Microsoft has a great Network Assessment and Planning page called: Plan for bandwidth requirements, here is the link if you want to have a headache: )


Also a great article about Small Business Networking:




Published On: 06/27/2020 / Categories: Blog, References /