The Multi-Page Theory: How Running Multiple Programs Affects Network Bandwidth

multi page network bandwidth

It’s happened to all of us: We sit down at our work computer with a list of things to do, and begin opening all the websites and programs needed at once. This could mean having an email platform open, a cloud CRM application, as well as Facebook and a music streaming site. However, with all these tabs open at once, users may begin to notice that one or more of these processes is struggling to load or is running with frequent glitches. This is what we like to call the multi-page theory. More often than not, today’s users have more than one tab open at once. And they may not think these activities have an impact on network bandwidth, but they very well can.


Does bandwidth work that way?

In a recent post on technology expert Leo Notenboom’s blog “Ask Leo,” one user reached out for help why her having multiple pages open in her Web browser should have no effect on another user’s online gaming. She noted that “that’s not how bandwidth works,” a common misconception among users everywhere.


Notenboom quickly set her straight, however, pointed out that in normal cases, she was right. But, in certain situations, having several tabs running at once can indeed affect network bandwidth, especially when the open programs are data-active. Since many of the applications utilized in a corporate setting can consume a considerable amount of bandwidth, having a number of workers utilizing broadband-heavy programs could easily impact the performance of these programs.


“Bandwidth is all about data transfer,” Notenboom explained. “Your Internet connection can only transmit data at a certain rate, so if you’re doing something, like playing a game, which requires continuous data transfer, other things which are also transferring data at the same time might impact it.”


Which programs are heavy bandwidth consumers?

Variety reported that a recent study ranked the programs that consume the most bandwidth and found that Netflix was the top driver of broadband usage in America in early 2014. The video streaming platform comprised about 34 percent of all downstream network bandwidth usage during prime hours. This is a small boost from last year’s 31.6 percent, but an increase all the same.


The study also found that YouTube followed closely behind Netflix, although it now consumes less bandwidth than it did last year. Overall, the video streaming website accounted for 13 percent of peak downstream traffic, down from 18 percent last year.


Industry blogger Doug Ross noted that Twitch, a platform where users can view the broadcasted live streams of others’ video games, is a newcomer in the bandwidth usage rating. Twitch came in just behind Netflix, Google and Apple as the top drivers of bandwidth traffic ranked by The Wall Street Journal.


Streaming services like YouTube, Netflix and music services like Spotify are the data-active programs Notenboom was referring to. In this way, if a user has a Netflix tab open, but then pauses their show to search for a clip on YouTube, it can impact network bandwidth. As many of today’s corporate employees utilize streaming services along side their business applications while in the office, the workplace’s network bandwidth can suffer if there are not enough broadband resources to support these activities.


However, this shouldn’t affect how these services are used. Instead of limiting the utilization of data transmission-heavy programs like this in the office, company leaders should increase and manage bandwidth to ensure that even when multiple pages are open, all processes function as they should.


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