Jan 25 2022

3 Tips for Troubleshooting Bandwidth in Small Government Offices

Try these measures to boost slow-performing network bandwidth in cramped quarters.

After pandemic lockdowns, many government agencies reduced their physical footprints, surrendering space to other purposes. Returning employees may find themselves in smaller spots.

As such, more devices may be competing for limited network capacity when employees return to the office. Examine these potential pain points to troubleshoot bandwidth challenges.

1. Optimize Your Agency’s Wireless Access Points

Wireless access points are often overlooked chokepoints when a Wi-Fi signal is strong, but there’s more to the story than a strong signal. If too many devices are trying to use the same AP, signal strength doesn’t matter.

For wireless devices performing low-bandwidth tasks such as sending email or browsing the web, a rough rule of thumb is 50 clients per each AP to keep collisions in check. Possible solutions to improve wireless network throughput include adding APs, improving the channel plan or using only the 5-gigahertz band.

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2. Boost Internet Bandwidth for Government Devices 

As the network device count climbs, an internet pipe will become more taxed. When the internet pipe has too many users to support, performance will vary. Sometimes, the network will feel speedy. Other times, frustrated users will refresh web pages to make them load. 

Solve this problem with more bandwidth. Consider increasing the speed of an internet pipe or adding more pipes. For government campuses, consider one internet connection per building. This approach requires thoughtful network design and more security devices, but it scales beautifully if the budget permits.

3. Monitor Your Employees’ Network Usage

A network monitoring system, or NMS, will help chart bandwidth use at network junctions. Don’t assume that all poor performance stems from traffic overload, though ­— it could be that a link is throwing errors. An error-prone link is a “gray” failure that can be tricky to isolate.

Armed with monitoring information, IT officials can identify problems and plan budgets. Maybe faster internet will get the biggest bang for an agency’s buck, or perhaps more APs are needed. Maybe a consultant should perform a network tuneup. Without monitoring, an agency won’t know what it doesn’t know.

RELATED: How does network segmentation give agencies more visibility into network traffic? 

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