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The World Cup bandwidth theft

Whether you love it or loathe it (I’m in between at the minute due to my team's position), football is just about everywhere at the minute with the World Cup just around the corner. Now you might be thinking, 'what does the World Cup have to do with business or even technology?' - but you would be amazed how the World Cup can impact day-to-day businesses without even thinking about how.

Finally, the announcement came last week that football fans and electrical superstores were hoping for: the UK is to get the World Cup broadcast in 4K via the BBC iPlayer platform. Great, I can use the TV for what it is intended (provided I’m lucky enough to get one of the limited streams). Whilst the announcement is welcomed, delivery of the 4K (also known as Ultra High Definition or UHD) will be limited to the iPlayer applications, which means to those looking to stream it over the internet (thank you FTTC).

So where is the bandwidth theft?

With the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and decent internet connections in most organisations today, we are gearing up for the usual major sports events calls around slow internet connectivity.  Now the internet isn’t slow, but what we are using it for during the World Cup (or the Olympics, Euros, Wimbledon, Ashes...) changes as we utilise the Wi-Fi to be able to follow our sports whilst we are working or on our breaks.

Normally, one person streaming a YouTube video, or even a few people on a decent internet connection, doesn’t pose a problem (a stream uses circa 3Mbps for decent quality), but add to that more people doing it, or even as mentioned above, streaming in 4K, this could have major impacts. A 4K stream of the World Cup on iPlayer will need a minimum of a 40Mbps Internet connection…that’s 50% of a good FTTC broadband connection and 40% of a 100Mbps leased line connection. Imagine 2 or even 3 people getting a stream at the same time (the maths doesn’t work, I know).

Ok, so they are watching the football and cheering on England (sorry, Scotland and Wales) to glory (cough)…  What is happening to your access to your critical business applications? Let's think of a shop: single Wi-Fi, but you also use the broadband connection for credit card transactions. An employee on their break is streaming the World Cup to the TV in the staff room in 4K… You have a 40Mbps internet connection. What is going to happen to the credit card transaction? Can you ensure it will get through? Don’t even get me speaking about voice traffic.

I suppose the moral of this blog is more to think about how we can mitigate the risk of this bandwidth thief. It’s inevitable someone will stream the World Cup 2018, but can you control the bandwidth available to it? 

We have a range of tools that would just do that.  There are tools available that allow you as a business control what Wi-Fi bandwidth tablets, mobiles and internet-connected TVs (for example) can use. You can also control the bandwidth available to media streams via the perimeter security devices, such as the Sophos UTM. Or control can be applied on a device-level basis, controlling what they can and can’t do, this time via Sophos’ mobile device manager. Whilst we are talking about controlling access to a web stream, these can also promote and prioritise business-critical traffic (remember the credit card transaction). 

To find out more about prioritising your network traffic, you can watch this short video I put together on Quality of Service (QoS):

This is all before I even start to get excited about the developments coming in the near future with how we provision the internet. I think it is safe to say the next generation internet is coming; you need to watch this space and I’m a little excited about it.

We use the internet for pretty much everything these days and we need to ensure we are using it correctly. If you want assistance in ensuring the correct profiles are enabled on your network, speak to one of our team today.  

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