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Got Enough Bandwidth For Distance Education?
Author: John McMahon
Read time: 7min
Virtual Learning and Distance Education struggle to find the right combination of technology to effectively teach online. Educators around the world are now in some phase of COVID recovery. Each state and county have their own guidelines which are shifting constantly as the situation changes. Some schools may have full classrooms again. While others will be working with smaller, social-distanced class sizes.
Maybe, your school, college, or university will decide that everything is moving towards a long-term virtual model. For most educational institutions, it’s going to be a hybrid arrangement between on-site classroom attendance and virtual, distance learning.
So, here’s the question that thousands of school administrators across the country are considering:
Can My Network and Internet Connection Handle the Traffic of a Virtual Classroom System?
It’s a good question. Why? Because now, more than ever, technology impacts the quality of your students’ education.
To put the issue simply, a generation that thrives on streaming services such as Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV, aren’t going to learn well with video that is stuck buffering and audio that’s out of sync. You have to get your network’s upload and download speed working smoothly before you launch this year’s fall semester.
What Network Upgrades May Be Necessary?
For the most part, school networks across the country have been put in place for low-data functions like email, online collaboration, and web-surfing. They basically help the school keep in communication with students and parents, offer minimal learning and classroom functionality, and allow teachers to show videos in class. The basic networks won’t be enough when it comes to streaming lectures from all your classrooms and handling the incoming data streams from students offsite.
You may need an entirely new network, or you may need one or some of these upgrades:
- Upgrade from copper wiring to fiber optic cabling
- Extended WiFi coverage with new routers and more wireless access points
- Upgrade cabling for hardwired stations in each classroom
- Integrate a secondary internet service provider for a redundant internet connection
What Upload and Download Speeds Do You Need?
The conversation of upload and download speeds gets complex quickly and is dependent upon a multitude of factors, including the number of concurrent students on the system and the quality of audio& video streams broadcast to remote students.
To simplify the discussion, let’s take a look at a few of the systems which you are familiar with:
- Skype suggests 8Mbps upload and 512kbps download with a group of seven or more participants.
- Zoom recommends 3Mbps upload and 2.5Mbps download for sending and receiving 1080p HD video.
- Google Meet needs 3.2Mbps upload and 4.0Mbps download with 10 participants.
- GotoMeeting requires up to 8Mbps upload and 1mbps download for teachers that want to screenshare notes and virtual whiteboards with their students.
The numbers may seem reasonable and easily accommodated by each school’s current setup until we realize that these numbers would be minimums for each classroom. For example, it starts adding up quickly if you have over a hundred classrooms. You have to multiply the speed required for the application you want to use by the number of classrooms you have. You should also add bandwidth for any administrative needs.
The Internet isn’t great!
The IronOrbit solution doesn’t use your local bandwidth, it uses ours. We have 5 separate gigabit connections to the Internet, so your bandwidth basically becomes unlimited. Imagine, any slowness or frustrations faculty and students have been having with their internet connection will vanish. In its place will be a seamless experience that matches that of a high-end physical PC, except this one is optimized for today’s modern apps with all the benefits of cloud technology, including rapid turn-up, service elasticity and cloud-economics.
What to Do?
Like any complex task, it’s essential to contact IT professionals who are familiar with these types of challenges and demands on technology. It’s equally important to look at the track record of the consultants you are bringing in to advise you. Are they experienced in setting up reliable virtual environments where hundreds or even thousands can access your virtual desktops remotely?
The IronOrbit team stands apart from our competition in this area because we don’t have to rely on the cloud infrastructure of Skype, Google, Zoom, or Citrix/LogMein to provide your educational facility with top-notch distance learning capabilities. Our IT specialists work with our clients and their internet service providers to deal with any bandwidth issues.
Then, we provide an online platform to stream classroom audio & video from our global network of private and highly secure Tier 4 datacenters. It’s a turnkey solution and available for a low, fixed monthly fee.
Let us help you get your classrooms on track for the fall. Just call us at
We’d be happy to have a no-obligation conversation with you. Or click below to learn more about our Education Solutions.Education Solutions