What Consumes Capacity?

There are different types of applications that can create challenges on mixed usage Wi-Fi networks. Some examples include:

1.Streaming media: Netflix, YouTube, Apple Music, Pandora

2.Cloud backups and updates: iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, iOS

3.VPN: Hotspot Shield, Ultrasurf, OpenVPN

4.Social media: Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook

Streaming media remains the biggest challenge on most networks today. Bandwidth-hungry video already constitutes well over half of internet traffic today. It will certainly continue to grow as higher resolutions gain popularity and additional services are introduced. On a college campus, we have seen Netflix traffic surge to the majority of the traffic at certain times of day, like in the evening when more students are in their dorm rooms.

The second category – cloud backups and updates – can be a “silent but deadly” bandwidth hog. These applications often run in the background and move gigabytes of data, often unbeknownst to the user.

Aside from the security implications, VPN applications generate user experience issues which push users to circumvent firewalls and access any internet content they want. This not only is a security risk for the user, but also the campus Wi-Fi network as a whole.

With content the center of all online media, social media applications burden the network with back and forth activity. Users share videos, images, blog posts, comments and more, which takes bandwidth away from education-critical applications.

(Next page: How to manage bandwidth-sucking apps)

About the Author:

Bruce Miller is vice president, product marketing for Xirrus Wi-Fi Networks. He has over 25 years of experience bringing telecommunications products to market in marketing, business development, and engineering roles.

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