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Trying to understand impact of audio streaming on internet bandwidth

Posted on 2006-10-21
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We are a small company with one office in Texas and another in SC. We have accounting software that is on server in SC and accessed over the internet. We only have Sprint internet cable. We have Microsoft networks and servers on both ends with very late model dell computers. We have 5 computers netwoorked on one end and twenty on the other end.

Problem: Our internet service gets extremely slow.

We do know that some folks use streaming music etc.

If this is the cause it would be great if I had some written backup to distribute showing that this could be the cause so they do not think it is an arbitrary decision on my part to discontinue practice.

So my I am looking for answers to my problem and hope I can get them here. Thanks, Mike
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Question by:cahoonm
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by:jhance
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This is not a difficult analysis.

Take the number of streams of audio being transferred and multiply by the average bits/sec of the stream.  Subtract that from your internet bandwidth in bits/sec.  What's left (if any) is what you have remaining for business use.

In general, however, streaming audio can be a MAJOR consumer of network bandwidth.  It's not uncommon for companies to block such services.
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by:Rob Williams
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I can't seem to find any links documenting the fact, but I will back you up.  :-)  Streaming audio/video, and downloading music files, can strangle a corporate network. Many offices have policies banning this, within the workplace as it can chew up a huge portion of your bandwidth, reducing the performance of day to day work applications for others.
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by:cahoonm
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Thank you. I can not find any documentation on net either, which is amazing considering that it operates on bandwidth itself. I wish i had something to wave at them. One of the employees claims that Raphosidy does not do affect bandwidth. Rather than argue with such a key employee it makes sense for me to have documentation supporting the facts.
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by:Rob Williams
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I wonder if you might find more on the sites that sell the systems to protect you from streaming media use and similar applications such as the following:
"The exponential growth in the use of Internet has revolutionized business processes and the flow of business and non-business information. The inappropriate use of the Internet is rapidly rising and adversely affecting corporate networks. Excessive amounts of "fun" P2P traffic, inappropriate content, or streaming media often degrade the
performance of business-critical applications, reduce employee productivity and may expose businesses, government agencies, and educational institutions to legal liability."
http://www.democraticmedia.org/PDFs/NetPure.pdf
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titter earned 250 total points
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Well according to:
http://www.keyone.co.uk/streaming-bandwidth-explained.asp

The streaming rate, is the amount of bandwidth being used. So if you have 20 people steaming at 96kb/s then 20*96kb/s is 1920kb which is the amount of current bandwidth usage. Depending on your Sprint cables down speeds, it could cake up a good portion of your bandwidth. Also if people are listening to even higher stream rates, it would eat even more. I would suggest doing a www.speakeasy.net speed test when no one is around at the office and document your connection speeds, then during a peak slow point in the day run the same speed test again. If they want evidence that they are infact using bandwidth it should help. Also as anything else Rhapsody will eat bandwidth ... especially if they are actually downloading mp3s, and not streaming them.

Also there is Network Bandwidth Monitors that will allow you to monitor bandwidth in both real-time, and on certain network ips.
http://www.paessler.com/prtg for more info.
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by:giltjr
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You can go back and tell the user, and your managment, the ONLY application that does effect network bandwidth is an application that does not use the network.  Even a application that only sends 1 byte a day impacts the available bandwidth, not a lot, but it still does.  It is not a question of if it does, the question is how much it does.

A single user listening to streaming music will most likely not seriously impact network performance.   Just like one person constantly driving up and down the highway all of the time will not cause a traffic backup.  

However, say you get 20 people, or 100, listening to streaming music, the it could impact depending on what your bandwidth it.  Just like 20, or 100, people constantly driving up and down the highway will start causing some problems.  The more you add the more problems you have.

What you may want to do is install some type of real time network monitoring tool or network trace tool (I would suggest Wireshark, http://www.wireshark.org).  Now start the trace tool on your PC, and crank up Rhapsody and wait 5 minutes.  Stop the trace and filter so that you only see Rhapsody traffic and see what it did over the 5 minute period.  Now multiply this by the number of people on your network and you have the possible impact.


I had people using the screen saver for the weather site.  Some user told me "It only used 2KB per second on avarage, so it can't hurt the network."  So I had my 10 year old teach the user some basic math:

  100 x 2 = 200 KBps

So if we have 100 user each using ONLY 2 KBps, that means we are using 200 KBps of network bandwidt.  Oh wait, we only had a T1 which max. in theory is 192KBps.  User got the idea and managment ageed, no more screen savers that update things from the Internet.
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by:cahoonm
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Titer gave me a link which did a good job and provided me a tool in which to use with the folks at the plant.

I think everyone was helpful and I truly apprecaite their help. Thank you.
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