What is Bandwidth Consumption?

Bandwidth consumption refers to the rate at which data transfers between devices or across a network. Learn how monitoring bandwidth consumption can increase network speed and dependency.

What is Bandwidth Consumption?

Bandwidth consumption is the terminology used to describe the total amount of data that has been transferred from one point to another within a network, over a specified period of time. This could be within seconds, minutes, or even hours. The data transfer rate is usually quantified in bits per second (bps), kilobits per second (Kbps), or even higher units like megabits per second (Mbps) and gigabits per second (Gbps).

bandwidth consumption

How to measure it?

Monitoring enterprise network bandwidth consumption is essential for companies to improve their application performance, optimize resource utilization, and boost productivity. It’s also critical for smaller businesses as they can’t perform bandwidth upgrades freely due to budget constraints. To observe network traffic, the simplest option is to execute an internet speed test using web-based tools. Another option involves installing a monitoring agent on every network device. For instance, you can install SNMP agents on routers, switches, and other devices to monitor their traffic.

The third and most effective option includes leveraging bandwidth monitoring software to analyze network and device-specific bandwidth usage in real-time with minimal manual efforts. It provides granular visibility into your organization’s current and future bandwidth requirements by offering detailed consumption reports and visualizations.

Most network monitoring tools use the bit per second (bit) metric as a unit of bandwidth measurement. Users seeking answers to “what is bandwidth consumption” should know that identifying the exact data transmission capacity of a network is highly complex. However, there are multiple indicators you can use for labeling the measured bandwidth.

  • Theoretical maximum denotes the best speed at which you can forward data packets over a network link under optimal conditions. Achieving theoretical data transfer speed in a network is generally impractical.
  • Throughput is the average rate at which a device can exchange information over a network connection. It helps determine the realistic packet forwarding capacity of a network link.
  • Goodput is used to measure the total number of data chunks that are practically worthy for a receiving device. You can discard unsubstantial information like packet overhead during goodput measurements.

What causes Bandwidth Consumption?

The first step in bandwidth monitoring is to understand where low bandwidth originates. Certain devices and web applications are more likely than others to hog bandwidth and create network performance issues for your business. Services that demand high bandwidth require you to quickly process large amounts of data, especially when they operate from multiple interfaces.

The classic culprit of bandwidth consumption is streaming video services, like Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. Some high-bandwidth file-sharing services (like Dropbox) can minimize bandwidth consumption by slowing down to accommodate low network capacity. On the other hand, streaming video can’t slow down – the whole point of streaming is to deliver data as quickly as possible, without freezes or lags. Because streaming demands a constant and immediate stream of traffic, your other network devices can suffer as a result.

Streaming isn’t the only cause of low bandwidth, though – if bandwidth monitoring were as simple as managing streaming services, there would be no need for comprehensive bandwidth monitoring tools. Other operations can hog your bandwidth, in less obvious ways. These include:

  • Malware – Compromised data might be the best-known issue associated with a malware attack, but malware can also be a major source of bandwidth consumption. Many malware programs consume large amounts of bandwidth to slow down your network, causing financial damage to your business. To do this, malware runs a large number of useless processes over and over.
  • Bandwidth-hogging Websites – Certain websites use a large amount of bandwidth to stream videos, download files, or run processes that demand lots of internet traffic. It’s not always easy to know which websites are bandwidth hogs, and businesses need to identify problematic websites before they affect network service.
  • Internet Calls – Audio streaming, just like video streaming, takes up a lot of bandwidth. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls and other call services are a common culprit for slow internet speeds.
  • Network Configuration Issues – Your internet service may be fast at face value, but a network with inefficient configuration can lead to slow service speeds and low bandwidth. As your business grows, it’s important to expand your network infrastructure in a way that maximizes bandwidth.

These are just a few of the sources of low bandwidth that can slow down network traffic, and damage your profit margin. Because bandwidth issues stem from such a wide range of sources, IT managers need to employ a bandwidth monitoring tool that can not only identify low bandwidth but also diagnose the root cause of slow internet traffic.

bandwidth consumption

How to reduce Bandwidth Consumption on your networks

Outlined below are some ways to restrict bandwidth consumption (and improve security) in a corporate network.

  • Identify malicious network devices: The presence of rogue devices, applications, or users in a network often results in unusual traffic spikes and bandwidth shortages. A bandwidth monitoring software with advanced security features can help you quickly track rogue devices and provide timely alerts regarding suspicious traffic flows in your network.
  • Set up traffic prioritization policies: Some data-sensitive applications, such as video streaming, often require more bandwidth and network resources. Reserving an optimal bandwidth is critical for the smooth functioning of such apps. With network traffic analyzer tools, you can formulate relevant CBQoS policies to emphasize the packet delivery of mission-critical apps over the network. These policies help in proper bandwidth allocation and restrict devices from overburdening the network.
  • Restrict access to non-business websites: After determining the baselines for your internal and external network traffic, you can instruct employees to curtail their bandwidth consumption as per the prescribed limits. You can collect and assess enterprise-wide consumption data through a traffic analyzer tool. If the traffic surpasses the defined criteria, you can block certain non-business websites and bandwidth-monopolizing users to curtail overall utilization.
  • Schedule system backups and updates outside peak traffic hours to ensure consistent performance and avoid bandwidth exhaustion. Most cloud apps businesses use today receive automatic software updates; it can be detrimental to the overall network stability if these security patches or bug fixes start downloading automatically during critical business hours. Implement security patches and backups when the network is not overloaded with data or users.


In closing, understanding bandwidth consumption is of utmost importance in the digital world of today. By properly measuring and monitoring bandwidth usage, efficient use of resources and optimized network performance can be ensured. Whether managing a small organization or a complex business infrastructure, being informed about bandwidth consumption and its primary causes can lead to more effective management strategies and enhanced overall performance.


Related posts

Main Benefits of Having a Managed Server

Dedicated servers can be an excellent solution if you’re a business owner looking for the...

What is SQL Server?

SQL Server, when capitalized, is a relational database management system (RDBMS) offered by Microsoft. When speaking...

What is a Mail Server?

With the click of a mouse button, you can send an email from one point...