Bandwidth management or bandwidth control is the process of regulating the amount of data on a network by setting allocations to every data-consuming application and device on the network. It helps alleviate network congestion or bottlenecks and ensures enough bandwidth for critical applications within an organization.

The concept behind bandwidth management is similar to rationing. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, some countries had to set a fixed number of commodities like paper towels, rubbing alcohol, and canned goods, for every consumer.

Rationing ensures that everyone gets what they need, and any supply shortage will not have detrimental effects on consumers. In bandwidth management, bandwidth is “rationed” to each device or application.

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We’ve all been there before—our Internet speed suddenly slows down when many people connect to our network, or when we open several applications on several devices all at once. 

Bandwidth management can help resolve this issue. But first, let’s find out what bandwidth is.

What Is Bandwidth?

Bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that a network, device, or application can transfer from one device to another. The bigger the bandwidth, the faster the network connection speed is.

Think of it as a drinking straw that comes in different sizes. People with larger straws can drink more juice than those with smaller straws. In the same way, applications, devices, or IP addresses with more bandwidth have faster Internet connections.

Why Is Bandwidth Management Important?

We likened bandwidth to drinking straws, but take note that not everyone should have large straws. In an office setting, the network connection is affected by several activities, such as employees:

  • Uploading the information of new hires to the human resource information system (HRIS) platform
  • Downloading important research materials from the Web
  • Watching cat videos on YouTube
  • Uploading photos of recent vacations to Facebook

Which users should have more bandwidth? Bandwidth management is important because it helps allocate more bandwidth to more critical activities.

How Does Bandwidth Management Work?

Bandwidth management can be done in several ways. For instance, network administrators can control bandwidth on a per-application basis and set more bandwidth for media streaming platforms and communication systems since these applications require considerable bandwidth. Less bandwidth can be allocated to other applications.

On the other hand, Internet service providers (ISPs) can implement bandwidth management based on a device’s IP address. If the IP address is assigned to an enterprise user, they can allocate more bandwidth. For IP addresses linked to home subscribers, allocating less bandwidth may be arranged, depending on the subscriber’s plan.

What Are Some Examples of Bandwidth Management Tools?

Several tools and software can be used to implement bandwidth management. Some examples are:

  • Routers: A router’s primary function is to “route” traffic to their respective destinations. But you can still use it to implement some form of bandwidth control, which requires the router to analyze traffic.
  • Bandwidth limiters: Bandwidth limiters monitor and prioritize traffic by limiting the bandwidth based on a predefined set of rules. Unlike routers, they are specifically designed for bandwidth control.
  • Traffic shaping tools: Another way to control bandwidth is through using traffic shaping tools. These tools delay certain types of network traffic to give way to more essential devices or applications.

What Are the Benefits of Bandwidth Management?

One of the significant benefits of bandwidth control is that it lessens network congestion, which happens when two or more devices or applications consume data simultaneously on the same network. Without bandwidth management, all data-consuming applications will fight over bandwidth usage, resulting in slower connection.

But with bandwidth management, the applications or devices can only consume what’s allocated to them.

Bandwidth management gives organizations the ability to prioritize applications critical to their business. Hotels, for example, can allocate more bandwidth to their management systems while apportioning less to hotel guests.

Unregulated bandwidth use can result in slow connection speed, no matter how large your network bandwidth is. Some applications may use up more bandwidth than necessary, leaving less or none to others. Bandwidth management can help control bandwidth allocation and network traffic flow so that critical applications are given the resources they need.