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How to calculate WiFi network bandwidth requirements

Network Bandwidth

How to calculate WiFi network bandwidth requirements

Network bandwidth is an essential factor in the design and maintenance of a functional WLAN. When building the infrastructure, you need to make a careful detection of how much bandwidth you will need to plan the right balance between performance and cost correctly.
How can you calculate WiFi bandwidth needs when designing the network? What specific considerations are involved?

In this article, we will present the reasons why it is fundamental to consider and adequately calculate the bandwidth requirements of the WiFi network you are going to deploy, to perform the most reliable network experience.

What is bandwidth in networking?

Bandwidth is the capacity of a channel to transmit data. During the transmission, the information is sent in a binary system, a language that encodes data using only two symbols (often defined as “1” and “0”, or “on” and “off”), each of which is called a bit.

The basic unit of this language, the byte, is composed of 8 bits. The bandwidth determines, therefore, the number of bytes that can be transmitted on the connection. The unit of measurement is the bits per second (bps). For example, a low definition video lasting 15 seconds, weighing 1 Megabyte, can be downloaded from an Internet site on your computer in 3-5 minutes if the connection is made via modem (56 kbps) or ISDN line (from 64 to 128 kbps). The same action takes a few seconds instead if the connection is broadband, like the one with the optical fibers (over 1000 Gbps).

Network bandwidth is the capacity of a network communications link to transmit the maximum volume of data from one point to another over a computer network or Internet connection in a given amount of time, usually one second. Bandwidth has the same meaning of capacity, and defines the data transfer rate.

Bandwidth, though, is not a measure of network speed.

As a matter of fact, the words “bandwidth” and “speed” are often misused as synonymous. The explanation of this misunderstanding can be, in part, due to their use in advertisements by ISPs that refer to speeds when they mean bandwidth. Indeed, speed refers to the rate at which data can be sent, while the definition of bandwidth is the capacity for that speed.

Why is it so important to calculate network bandwidth requirements before deploying a network?

Bandwidth can be compared to the volume of water that can flow through a water pipe. If the pipe is bigger, the water can flow in a massive quantity through it at one time. Bandwidth functions in the same way. So, the more bandwidth a data connection has, the more data it can send and receive at one time.

Consider that in any kind of deployment location, there are bandwidth limits. This means that there is a constraint to space for the data to flow. Therefore, multiple devices in a single area must share the bandwidth. Some devices request much more bandwidth than others. Greater bandwidth is absolutely necessary if proper speed must be maintained on different devices.

When do you need to calculate bandwidth?

Streaming, gaming, and other high usage activities demand a certain amount of bandwidth speed to get the best experience without buffering or lag. And the more bandwidth your network can deliver, the faster your devices will run.

Before you start designing your WiFi network, you should follow some steps to achieve your bandwidth goal.

1. Estimate how many devices will be connected to your WiFi network simultaneously

The majority of mid-high end wireless access points and wireless routers can have 255 devices connected at a time. Nevertheless, just because you can hypothetically connect 255 devices to a single WiFi router/access point doesn’t mean you should.
Each computer or device added to your network will degrade the bandwidth available to the other devices using the same connection. All those devices share the same wireless network and the same Internet connection from your broadband service provider. In this case, the congestion isn’t necessarily with the wireless connections. Still, it is with the amount of traffic or bandwidth that can pass through the Internet router to your broadband service provider.

Example
If you want to estimate how many concurrent devices will be connected, consider, for example, a hotel with 18 rooms for 2 people each. The hotel has 36 guests if it is fully-booked. If each guest has 1.2 devices, you have around 43 devices in total. We can assume that only 20 of 43 can be connected or generate significant traffic at the same time.

2. Calculate the application bandwidth requirement

Your bandwidth requirements also depend on the usage of the Internet your guests perform while being connected to your WiFi network. Some Internet applications, such as web browsing and instant messaging require low bandwidth, whereas other applications, such as video streaming and VoIP calls, require high-level bandwidth usage.

To implement a high-performance WLAN, network designers must consider external variables, such as the applications’ requirements in bandwidth and throughput networks.
Tanaza offers a useful way to calculate the bandwidth requirement of a network. We have created the tool “Access Point Selector” to suggest the ideal access point per location and application type. However, it’s also helpful to estimate the required bandwidth per-user connection. You can try it here.

In the image below, you can check the bandwidth needed and the throughput required for the mainstream applications, such as messaging, e-mails, social media, video calls, VoIP calls, web browsing, file sharing, and video streaming.

Network Bandwidth Requirements

Or if you want to go more specific, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) provides a set of guidelines for Mbps needed based on digital activity.

Alternatively, you can measure the bandwidth requirements by usage. The chart below compares minimum download speed (Mbps) needs for light, moderate, and high household use with one, two, three, or four devices at a time (such as a laptop, tablet, or game console).

Network Bandwidth Requirements by Usage

So, let’s keep the hotel’s example fully booked with a maximum capacity of 36 guests. Assuming each guest has 1.2 devices, you have around 43 devices, of which 35 are connected to the network simultaneously. All of them are browsing different applications.

If you are using our Access Point Selector tool, in a hotel with 35 concurrent users employing chatting/messenger services, e-mail, social media, web browsing, and video streaming, you will have, as a result, an estimated bandwidth per user of 3.33 Mbit/s. This means that the hotel would need at minimum: Location bandwidth – 117 Mbit/s.

3. Calculate network bandwidth requirements

As previously said, the measurement unit for bandwidth is bits per second (bps). But, modern networks have greater capacity. They are mostly measured in millions of bits per second (megabits per second, or Mbps) or billions of bits per second (gigabits per second, or Gbps).

Furthermore, bandwidth connections can be symmetrical when the data capacity is the same in uploading or downloading data, and asymmetrical when download and upload capacity are not the same. In asymmetrical connections, upload capacity is usually smaller than the download capacity.

In addition to testing, you have to calculate how much bandwidth is needed to run all your networks’ applications. To understand how much capacity you need, you must calculate the maximum number of users who might be using the network connection simultaneously and multiply that number times the bandwidth capacity required by each application.

To calculate the bandwidth need required you can use the following formula:

(Application Throughput) x (Number of concurrent Users) = Aggregate Application Throughput

Going back to the hotel example, 

(3.33 Mbps) x 35 concurrent users = 117 Mbps 

Note: the result you get here might exceed the bandwidth that the internet service providers offer.

When calculating your bandwidth needs, it’s a theoretical demand upper bound estimate that can help you to calculate the number of access points needed to support the bandwidth demands in a specific location.

If you want to calculate the number of access points needed in a deployment, check our latest article Network Capacity Planning – Wireless Capacity vs Coverage.

If you are deploying wireless networks, read also WiFi network design – What to take into consideration when designing WLANs, there are many factors to consider to plan out your network deployments thoroughly.

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Starbucks to start blocking pornography from its WiFi networks

Starbucks to start blocking pornography from its WiFi networks

Starbucks to start blocking pornography from its WiFi Networks

Starbucks plans to introduce a new tool aimed at preventing customers from viewing pornography or other explicit content in its stores. This solution will begin to be introduced to the company’s US locations in 2019.

Watching pornographic content has long been banned at Starbucks locations: indeed, viewing pornography in a Starbucks store using its free public Wi-Fi network is already a violation of the company’s internet policy. Nevertheless, until now the chain has not had content blockers on its Wi-Fi service.

“We have identified a solution to prevent this content from being viewed within our stores and we will begin introducing it to our U.S. locations in 2019”, a company representative stated.

This shift has come thanks to pressure from Enough is Enough, a nonprofit, internet-safety advocacy group which created a petition calling for Starbucks to filter pornography. The petition has been signed by more than 30,000 people.

“Apparently, Starbucks cares more about providing paper straws to protect the environment than protecting kids and patrons on its public WiFi!” says the petition. “Starbucks broke its promise to filter pornography and child sex abuse images, despite its public announcement it would voluntarily provide safe WiFi in its restaurants nationwide…an announcement made more than 2 and-a-half years ago!”

Indeed, the company promised to start filtering pornographic content in 2016, when McDonald’s, which was one of the chains being pressured by Enough is Enough since 2014 to put up content filters on their public WiFi networks, started blocking pornography. This put pressure on Starbucks to do the same, but the company never followed through on that promise.

Donna Rice Hughes, CEO of Enough is Enough. claimed in a statement that Starbucks, by breaking its commitments, was “keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public Wi-Fi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography.”


So far, Starbucks has not disclosed technical details about the solution but said the company tested multiple tools, aiming at avoiding accidentally blocking inoffensive websites.

Web content filtering improves public hotspot WiFi security by allowing network administrators to block distasteful and illegal content, to scan and secure hotspots from hacking attacks and viruses and from liabilities due to illegal activities.

Tanaza features a built-in content filtering tool that gives WiFi hotspot providers the opportunity to create a customized list of sites to block or unblock, choosing among a large number of categories. With this tool, WiFi hotspot providers can easily manage the kind of content their users can see when browsing their network. Moreover, the Tanaza content filtering tool works with any WiFi hotspot, as Tanaza is multi-vendor and therefore supports a wide array of access points.

Do you want to discover the Tanaza Content Filtering? Start the 15-day free trial to see how you can effectively protect your Wi-Fi network with our cloud-based content filtering system.

The 4 most requested features for WiFi professionals

The 4 most requested features for WiFi professionals

The 4 more requested features for WiFi professionals

The WiFi technology is evolving fast (WiFi 5, also known as 802.11ac, and soon WiFi 6, also known as 802.11ax) and so are the needs of our partners. We at Tanaza are focused on our customers’ development and are thus choosing new features to develop according to their needs and the market.

In this article, we list the 4 most requested feature ideas under consideration to develop in the near future.
We strongly encourage you to upvote these features on our community website, success.tanaza.com.

 

Making our WiFi software compatible with 3G/4G devices

 

Supporting 3G and 4G devices with Tanaza software is one of the most requested features by our customers.

Many of our customers already use the workaround that suggests connecting the Tanaza powered access point to their 3G/4G device using an ethernet cable. Consider that this is only possible if both devices have an Ethernet port. Also, either for lack of fiber/DSL internet connection or for mobility requirements, an ethernet connection is sometimes not available.

By supporting 3G/4G devices, Tanaza customers could directly set up a captive portal on a SIM card, and manage networks remotely in many locations. This feature is particularly useful when working in the public transportation sector such as buses and trains.
For example, a travel company could equip their buses with 3G/4G devices and provide WiFi to their customers en route. The company could decide to offer the service for free or to create a paid WiFi hotspot.

To help its customers develop their project in the public transportation sector, Tanaza is considering to support medium-priced 3G/4G devices like the DLINK DWR 953 and DWR 921 that both use a sim card.

Possible scenario: a bus company equips their buses with 3G/4G devices and sets up a captive portal with coupon authentication. The first coupon offered is configured with a limited number of devices and a limited time session, but the service is offered free-of-charge.
WiFi users can decide to buy a second coupon to enjoy unlimited bandwidth and an unlimited time session on the WiFi network.

Integration of a self-service payment system (like PayPal) into the Tanaza splash page

 

Integrate a self-service payment system into the Tanaza splash page would simplify and expedite the process for WiFi solution providers of setting up a paid WiFi network.

Indeed, Tanaza already features a couponing system that allows online payment for WiFi users.

The current experience for the WiFi user is the following:

  1. The user clicks on the external link on the Tanaza splash page
  2. The user redirected to a payment webpage created by the WiFi network administrator
  3. The user purchases the coupon on this webpage and receives a code
  4. Once authenticated, the user must click on a link to get back to the Tanaza splash page.
  5. Finally, the user enters the coupon code on the Tanaza splash page to access to the internet.

On the other hand, by integrating a self-service payment system, like Paypal, directly into the Tanaza splash page, the WiFi network administrator would just have to add it to the splash page editor, configure the process coupon purchase process and deliver the password to the WiFi user. In this scenario, the experience of WiFi users would be simpler.

This feature is particularly useful for satellite providers, internet solution providers and wireless internet solution providers to monetize their WiFi infrastructures. For example, an integrated self-service payment system could allow satellite providers to easily sell internet access to WiFi solution providers and distribute WiFi in many places worldwide.

Integrate Tanaza WiFi with property management systems (PMS)

 

Tanaza has many customers working in the  hospitality sector where a couponing system is particularly needed. Tanaza features a couponing system that facilitates network deployment for hotel managers, especially when setting up different SSIDs and configuring bandwidth control per SSID, number of connected devices per person, number of concurrent users per SSID, customised password, time session and so on.

Nevertheless, hotel managers could further utilize their guest management system if they had the possibility to integrate Tanaza together with a property management system.

A property management system (or PMS) is a software application used to coordinate front office operational functions like sales and planning, guest bookings, guest information, online booking, room numbers, added services and so on.


By integrating a PMS together with Tanaza, hotel managers could check on a single platform details about individual guests together with the SSID they are connected to, the number of devices connected, the amount of bandwidth consumed etc. From a monitoring and management point of view, PMS and Tanaza could bring a real added-value to managers working in the hospitality sector.

Tanaza Hotspot system available without flashing on top of Ruckus and Aerohive devices

 

Tanaza recently developed the Tanaza hotspot system for Meraki Cisco users and is now thinking about developing the Tanaza hotspot system without flashing for Ruckus and Aerohive. The aim is to offer WiFi solution providers the possibility to work with enterprise-level hardware vendors, like Ruckus or Aerohive, and enjoy a full set of hotspot management features.

Moreover, compared to other WiFi hotspot software on the market, Tanaza does not set a limit per concurrent users of splash page views on a WiFi network, allowing WiFi professionals to fully leverage their public networks.

By integrating the Tanaza hotspot system without flashing, WiFi professionals could keep using their devices with the original network management system while configuring the hotspot part on the Tanaza cloud-based platform. Tanaza’s hotspot features include the splash page editor, the couponing system, the captive portal with different authentication methods, and the advertising tool, to name a few.

Related articles:

Users can now see their WiFi voucher usage data

Collect more WiFi user data through social login and custom forms

https://www.tanaza.com/tanazaclassic/blog/collect-verified-phone-numbers-from-wifi-users/

Collect verified phone numbers from your WiFi network

Collect verified phone numbers from your WiFi network

Free Internet Browsing
Tanaza aims to develop its latest features according to its customers’ needs.
Because of this, it is now possible for WiFi network administrators to set up a custom form WiFi authentication together with a phone number verification.

This new feature enables WiFi network administrators to verify the phone number of its WiFi users once they have logged in through a custom form.


The custom form authentication allows owners of venues to collect personalised data about their clientele and enrich their database for marketing purposes. For example, using the custom form, theWiFi network administrator at a mall could ask WiFi users their gender, their favourite clothing brand, or if they want to receive special offers via email etc.

Collect verified phone numbers from WiFi users
In addition to personalised data and their email address, WiFi network administrators have now the possibility to ask and verify users phone number by simply adding the field “phone number (with SMS verification)”to the custom form, so that once the user fills the form and clicks on the button, an OTP (One Time Password) will be sent to that mobile number, that the user will copy into the splash page in order to complete the login.
The administrator of a network will be able to run marketing campaigns and leverage collected phone numbers, after asking WiFi users’ consent.

Moreover, each user can access the network with one single phone number for multiple devices which allows the administrator to understand better the total number of single users.   

Phone Number with SMS Verification - Tanaza

Top 3 cloud deployment models: public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud

Top 3 cloud deployment models: public cloud vs private cloud vs hybrid cloud

cloud computing

Let’s explain the difference among the 3 main deployment models of cloud computing: public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud.

The cloud can be effectively deployed in many ways by businesses of any size and industry. There are 3 main cloud deployment models that organisations can leverage based on their needs, namely public, private and hybrid cloud.

1. Public Cloud

Public cloud is the most adopted model among enterprises. According to RightScale’s report, the deployment of public cloud increased to 92% in 2018. Under this model, cloud resources are owned, maintained and managed by a third-party provider and can be securely accessed by and shared with many users at once, meaning it operates in a multi-tenant environment. The leading public cloud providers are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform. For instance, Tanaza is hosted on Amazon Web Services, which guarantees the highest levels of reliability available on the market, and runs on a reliable, secure, highly-available (99,99%) and redundant cloud infrastructure.

The main benefits of public cloud are:

  • Cost-effectiveness: you don’t pay for the hardware/software but only for the resources you use. Also, you save time as you don’t need to worry about maintenance;
  • Reliability: public cloud allows you to host data and services on more than one cloud provider. This way, services can be replicated to avoid failures and outages;
  • Flexibility: people can access the public cloud services remotely from anywhere, no matter where the offices of a company are located, and from any internet-enabled device.

 

2. Private Cloud

Private cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers services to a single organisation through a specific, dedicated architecture. Under this model, the company itself is responsible for and bears the costs of the acquisition, deployment and maintenance of the cloud resources. According to RightScale’s report, the deployment of private cloud increased to 75% in 2018. The most popular vendors providing private cloud solutions are Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE),  VMware and Dell EMC. Private clouds are generally used among organisations that handle sensitive data and need to critically keep under control their operations, such as government and financial institutions (hospitals, ministries, banks…), big telecommunication carriers, etc.

The main benefits of private cloud are:

  • Total control and customisation of the cloud environment based on the business specific needs;
  • Higher scalability compared to public cloud – at a higher price;
  • Improved security over its data, applications and resources, as private cloud operates on a physically isolated and dedicated architecture.

 

3. Hybrid Cloud

The third model is hybrid cloud, which is a combination of both public and private cloud and allows companies to be more flexible and use more services. In general, a hybrid cloud occurs when a business operating on a private cloud expands and starts using a public cloud, generating in this way a combined environment. Enterprises adopting this model can benefit from the high control and security levels for their operations offered by private clouds and, at the same time, use the additional resources offered by public clouds when they need. Nevertheless, using a combination of both public and private models requires strong IT management and, accordingly, higher investments.

Based on the nature, the size and the scope of your organisation, you can choose the cloud deployment model that better fits your business needs and take advantage of cloud technology.

Are you a carrier or a public institution operating on a private cloud, or you are forced only to use private cloud in your country, and you are interested in using Tanaza? We can help you installing Tanaza on your private cloud! For more information contact us at sales@tanaza.com.

New feature available: bandwidth control on a per user-level

New feature available: bandwidth control on a per user-level

Bandwidth Control One a Per User Level

Tanaza just released a new feature: the bandwidth control on a per user-level.

Tanaza already features the bandwidth management per SSID, which means that WiFi administrators can limit the total amount of bandwidth available for one SSID.

  • Example: in a Hotel with only two guests.
    A WiFi administrator configures an SSID with a maximum bandwidth of 10 Mbps.
    If the first guest could use 7 Mbps, the second guest will only be able to use the 3 Mbps remaining.
    The bandwidth is not shared equally among WiFi users.

 

What is the difference with the bandwidth control per user?

The bandwidth control per user means that a network administrator can limit the amount of bandwidth one user can use on the WiFi network.
The limit is set at the user level and not, at the global level (SSID). 

The capability to specify the bandwidth users can access will guarantee the same users’experience; the bandwidth is divided equally among WiFi users. Also, Tanaza’s Bandwidth Control per Client feature comes with a “boost” function, which allows hotel guests to exceed the bandwidth limit for a few seconds when they use a WiFi service.

  • Example: in a Hotel with only 5 guests.
    A WiFi administrator limits the bandwidth of the Hotel SSID at 10Mbps.
    Besides, he limits the bandwidth per WiFi users at 2Mbps.
    Each guest will have the possibility to use until 2Mbps while browsing. The bandwidth is shared equally between guests.

This new feature should solve issues especially for WiFi networks deployed in hotels where the WiFi users experience is significant.

 

Bandwidh control per user