Poor quality audio and video conference calls and digital meetings beset by technical issues are a huge productivity drain. While sometimes this may be a simple bandwidth issue, there are often underlying technical issues at play, such as a patchwork IT system. By addressing the root cause of your IT issues, you can not only improve network performance but also give your team the tools they need to stay connected and productive.
When Bandwidth is to Blame
The most common culprit for many video conference-related IT issues is a lack of bandwidth. Though most offices have enough bandwidth to meet their ordinary business needs, many organizations have found their networks taxed by the increased reliance on conference calls, video streaming, and other bandwidth-heavy activities in the social distancing era.
Though many employees are still working from home, some organizations are slowly bringing workers back to the office. However, as video conference calls replace in-person meetings and online courses and webinars (which rely heavily on video) replace in-person classes and conferences many corporate networks are starting to feel the strain, resulting in dropped calls, endlessly buffering videos, choppy audio and video, and other common bandwidth-related IT problems.
When the Root of the Problem is Your Network
If you’ve noticed that your video calls spend a lot of time buffering, the audio and video are often out of sync, your calls drop frequently, or you are having trouble sending large files (a common issue for video game developers) the issue might lie with your organization’s network configuration. audio, video, and collaborative solutions can put a lot of strain on your network if it isn’t appropriately configured, leading to issues that can sink worker productivity.
The Importance of a Good Plan
Aside from bandwidth issues, the most common cause of IT-related productivity issues stems from networks and wireless infrastructure that wasn’t properly planned out before implementation. Many organizations rely on legacy infrastructure that has been expanded and added to as needed, not carefully planned out in advance.
You need to ensure that your network has an overarching plan and that all elements work together harmoniously. You should also plan for maximum capacity – make sure your infrastructure can handle significantly more traffic than you experience on an average day. This planning helps you create amore efficient network, reducing or even eliminating bandwidth issues.
However, recent events have moved most meetings and seminars online, which can tax even a well-configured network if it doesn’t usually need to accommodate this level of traffic.
Clusters of Users around APs
Issues can also arise when too many devices try to connect to a single access point. This can happen if access points aren’t optimally arranged or as a result of access point “stickiness".
Each access point can only effectively handle a limited number of devices, so if your access points aren’t deployed in a way that spreads traffic out evenly, you can end up with too many devices all clamoring to connect to the same access point. As such, high-usage areas (like large clusters of conference rooms that frequently host many devices at once) may require more closely spaced access points, while lower usage areas can enjoy adequate coverage even if access points are spaced further apart.
Access point stickiness is another potential culprit. Devices don’t always disconnect from old access points and reconnect to new ones as we move around, which may inadvertently cause some devices to remain connected to one access point. For example, if employees frequently move around the building to attend different meetings, their devices may not always update which access point they should be connected to.
How to Improve Your Network Performance
Before you can reconfigure your network to better suit your needs, you have to determine your specific needs. A thorough assessment performed by an experienced IT company will take a detailed look at both your network and peripheral components to determine use cases, bottleneck issues, and any other concerns related to your existing infrastructure. This information is critical for creating a cohesive plan that can meet both your current and future network needs.
Next, your IT expert will work with you to create a plan. This will address, and ideally eliminate, the issues we have already discussed and also address security, identity, cloud interconnectivity, and application sensitivity issues. If your network is AV focused your IT experts should also consider the network’s multicast capabilities and functionalities, since this will help enable efficient intra-network communication. This plan will both ensure that your current needs are met, and make it easier to expand your network in the future as your organization grows and your needs change.
Depending on your needs, your IT expert may suggest solutions such as upgrading the cabling in your office or upgrading your link, interface, or port speeds.
Now that you have a plan, your IT expert will implement it and deploy your network improvements. Having an expert on your side can help reduce or even eliminate deployment issues and hiccups and fix any problems you encounter, either during or after deployment.
With a deployed network, you should consider partnering with an experienced managed services provider to manage it. In addition to basic troubleshooting assistance, Rahi Systems offers 4 service plans to meet your network management and monitoring needs.
Should I Replace My Legacy System?
The most efficient way to eliminate pain points, such as those discussed above, is to assess, plan, and replace your network infrastructure with a solution that is better able to meet your needs. This is easier, but also typically more costly than retrofitting and elevating your existing solution to better suit your needs.
Whether your current IT issues are better remedied by reconfiguring your existing solution or starting from scratch is something your IT expert can help with. During their detailed assessment, they can identify the root causes of your current pain points and suggest prescriptive changes.
Your IT expert will also carefully consider your budget since not all organizations have the funds on hand to completely overhaul their network. If a complete replacement isn’t in the budget right now, your IT expert should be able to suggest add-on solutions that can minimize network issues while respecting your budget.