Video Conferencing Bandwidth Requirements: How Much Bandwidth is Enough for HD?

by in Best Practices, Cloud, Lifesize, Tech Notes

Video conferencing is the premier way to conduct business, but in order for you to have the ultimate video conferencing experience, you’ll need enough bandwidth to support the highest quality image resolution. By reviewing these video conferencing bandwidth requirements, you can feel confident you have the capacity to meet all of your HD video needs for the most advanced conference calls possible.

Determining video conferencing bandwidth requirements

There are a few key differences between the video clips you watch on the internet and the live video conferences you hold at the office.

For one, streaming video clips (your standard cat video variety) are designed to download portions of the footage ahead of time to make up for network instability during playback. The other notable difference is you almost never submit an IT helpdesk ticket because your YouTube video took a few extra seconds to buffer.

Video conferencing, on the other hand, relies on packets of data being sent and received in real-time to ensure the call remains clear, with every inflection, gesture, and word correctly transmitted. When you’re optimizing your network for video conferencing, it’s important to factor in enough bandwidth headroom for the most seamless streaming.

Calculating video conferencing bandwidth requirements

While bandwidth is commonly confused with internet speed, it actually refers to the capacity of an individual internet connection. The range of bandwidth is the maximum amount of data transmitted over a connection in a measured amount of time, calculated in megabits per second (Mbps, for short). Video conferencing bandwidth requirements are driven by the resolution as well as the session’s ability to handle image motion

Factors to consider

There are a number of factors that can affect your bandwidth, from real-time traffic, to call density, to call patterns. If there are more people or more devices utilizing bandwidth-intensive features (like streaming, video calling, or downloading), be aware the bandwidth requirements will increase accordingly.

The more people using a network simultaneously, the more this traffic will take a toll on download speeds and video quality. A bottleneck can happen when the performance of a network is limited because not enough bandwidth is available to ensure all data packets reach their destination in a timely fashion. 

Formula for calculating video conferencing bandwidth

Video Bandwidth (Mbps) = (Lifesize Accounts x 2Mbps x .05) + 10%

Video Conferencing Bandwidth Formula

Minimum requirements for high quality video conferencing

When it comes to video conferencing systems, it’s imperative to know the minimum bandwidth requirements to meet your specific needs and have the best experience you can. This information will help you make necessary adjustments ahead of time, and give you clear expectations for the video quality and functionality of your call.

As for individual video conferencing requirements, a point-to-point video call between two users or locations will use about 2 Mbps of bandwidth (upload and download speed) on either side, since both groups are sending and receiving packets of data during a live video call. 

These bandwidth requirements are designed to make sure the call runs smoothly and with the best quality video -- or from IT’s perspective, to decrease the chance of a quality-related helpdesk ticket being submitted.

Bandwidth requirements for Lifesize video conferencing:

Bandwidth

Resolution

Frame Rate

384 Kbps

CIF

30 fps

512 Kbps

4CIF

15 fps +

768 Kbps

4CIF

30 fps

1 Mbps

720p (HD)

15 fps +

2 Mbps

720p (HD)

30 fps

4 Mbps

720p (HD)

60 fps

6 Mbps

1080p (HD)

30 fps

7 Mbps

1080p (HD)

60 fps

Bandwidth requirements will depend on the resolution and the frame rate you desire. For example, 1 Mbps is sufficient for 15 fps at 720p resolution, while 30 fps at 4K will require closer to 4 Mbps. As a rule of thumb, the more participants there are on your group video calls, the more bandwidth that will be required.

Bandwidth requirements will depend on the resolution and the frame rate you desire. For example, 1 Mbps is sufficient for 15 fps at 720p resolution, while 30 fps at 4K will require closer to 4 Mbps. As a rule of thumb, the more participants there are on your group video calls, the more bandwidth that will be required.

How Lifesize uses less bandwidth for better HD conferencing 

When you enhance your network for HD video conferencing, you need to plan for an appropriate amount of bandwidth headroom; fortunately, Lifesize has much fewer bandwidth requirements than other systems on the market. As a global leader in video conferencing solutions, Lifesize has time and again proven it is better at compressing video than its competitors, which translates to less bandwidth usage and greater quality video every time.

The Lifesize cloud architecture is built to rely as little on the public internet and as little on your bandwidth as possible. When you host Lifesize video calls with participants around the world, your call is routed to the nearest IBM Cloud PoP (point of presence), where it jumps on their ultrafast fiber network to navigate the globe. 

What this means is, calls aren't constantly hopping among multiple service providers like they would on the public internet, which only increases latency and produces a much lower-quality call. The Lifesize and IBM Cloud relationship is designed to take the daily maintenance and connectivity reliability off of your IT team and give you the best video quality out there.

Conclusion

Having access to sufficient bandwidth for video conferencing is vital to your team’s success, but understanding bandwidth requirements doesn’t have to be complicated. Using the formula provided, you can quickly calculate the bandwidth needed for high-definition video conferencing so you can utilize this service in no time.

And if you’re in need of a new conferencing solution, trust Lifesize for better compression, less bandwidth usage, and the highest quality video on the market.