How big a pipeline?
November 29, 2009 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Is there a straightforward set of recommendations or standards for how much internet bandwidth to set up per number of expected users?

I have been asked to consult on a project to provide internet access to a large apartment building. There are between 60 and 80 units in the building. I am fairly sure that their current plan regarding the shared internet connection will be inadequate, but I have had a very hard time finding any source to back up my instinct, let alone any simple way to calculate what the shared bandwidth SHOULD be for that many home users.

Bonus points for anyone who points me to a company that provides that sort of large-scale shared internet access.
posted by BigLankyBastard to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Having seen neighborhood cable brought to its knees everyday when school gets out, I can tell you you're going to have to plan for peaky loads, as in nearly everyone wanting to be online during evening hours. You'll also want to consider ganging multiple feeds and/or providers to make up your total bandwidth so losing one doesn't totally shut you down. Ditto that for your routing & WiFi hardware; have multiple active gear plus spares standing by. Plan, as much as possible, for having no single point whose failure could take you down.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 8:24 AM on November 29, 2009

The FCC defines "broadband" as a minimum of 768kbps. You should strive to maintain at least this speed for everyone at peak load times. Now, I'm not a network engineer, so I can't tell you how big a pipe you'd need (do you just multiply?) - but this is a good guideline to keep in mind.
posted by wsp at 8:29 AM on November 29, 2009

"Network Capacity Planning" is the magic phrase you need. Google for that, and you'll find dozens of White Papers, software tools, & consultants to help you with this problem. Here is a reasonable overview from Microsoft.

And TruncatedTiller put his/her finger on the problem. It's not as simple as Y-bandwidth x N-people = pipe size. Sizing for the the peak load is what matters -- and what's hard.
posted by FfejL at 7:53 AM on November 30, 2009

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