What is Bandwidth Management? Why is it Important for Guest Networks?

In today’s world of internet for all and internet of things (IoT), there is a need for all of the connected devices to have the proper bandwidth for those apps to be useful. 

Let’s take a look at common bandwidth usage at home. Currently, the highest bandwidth hog is 4K streaming video, which through Netflix will run decently without much buffer between 15-20 Mbps (Note – 4K can reach up to about 28 Mbps). Online gaming is around 5-8 Mbps, HD 1080p video streaming is about 8-10 Mbps and a basic standard definition YouTube video is around 2-4 Mbps. 

Most IoT devices, such as smart watches, thermostats, ovens, and voice technology, need bandwidth but actually utilize very little over time. Roughly less than 2 Mbps is required for most IoT devices that will be found in a home combined. So for most applications and standard usage, a person that is watching a 4K movie while playing an online game and also has an internet-ready thermostat and lighting in his or her home would only utilize about 40 Mbps. 

The only outlying application that would use more bandwidth than the standard types listed above is file transfers. Downloads of updates or new applications will usually try to utilize as much bandwidth as possible until the transfer is complete. For a residential situation in most parts of the developed world, this is not too big of a deal due to everyone purchasing more and more bandwidth when it becomes available, even when it might not be utilized most of the time. 

Now, let’s move these examples to hotels, multi-tenant condos, and other visitor-based networks. It gets complicated when you move into these networks where there are exponentially more people utilizing the same internet connection. The calculations of what is needed sometimes goes beyond what is available. 

This is where gateways like those available from Nomadix are extremely useful. The ability to provide access to available bandwidth and prioritize who gets access to that bandwidth was created into the design of our products. We’ve been building and implementing our gateway technology for over 20 years, and we’ve seen great results for our customers and their properties. 

If you’ve been to a hotel without bandwidth management, you know pretty quickly. The internet is almost unusable in the evenings when everyone is back for the day. A large guest network (such as a hotel with 150 rooms) may not be able to provide the desired amount of bandwidth to a single user. Taking the numbers from my examples above, one user at 40 Mbps per room at 150 rooms is 6 Gbps. The data usage adds up fast. 

When the demand outstrips what is available, there needs to be controls in place that will allow everyone to access a useful amount of bandwidth. Utilizing the weighted fair queueing (WFQ) ability in the Nomadix gateways allows for access to bandwidth based on the needs of the applications. It also makes sure that all devices on the network get access to bandwidth when they have internet requests. 

There are other bandwidth controls that allow the site administrator to limit access to bandwidth utilizing different methods of identification, such as VLAN, priority, or authentication. By managing the bandwidth effectively with a Nomadix gateway, more devices can connect to the network than would normally be able to coexist.

Onsite technology per room, combined with all the devices brought in by guests and tenants, can quickly put a strain on the network. As we continue to see more and more devices enter the visitor networks, it’s important to prepare for the exponential growth. Wi-Fi is one of the most important pieces to guest and tenant experiences, so keep this piece in mind when looking for upgrades. If you are interested, take a look at our offerings that can help with bandwidth management


Jeremy Cook is currently the product manager for the Nomadix gateways. He has worked with Nomadix for 21 years, joining the organization in quality assurance and moving through systems and pre-sales engineering and to his current role in Product Management.