So a key question is how much throughput or bandwidth do you need? The answer depends on what you are doing on your network.
Table 1 summarizes common network activities, the size of the data involved, and the duration of the activity. The Bandwidth Used column combines the Data Size and Duration into a subjective measure of the required bandwidth.
The Variation Sensitivity column is different because it indicates how much an activity is affected by changes in bandwidth. Video's sensitivity is high, because it requires a lot of data to arrive at a high rate in order to produce a problem-free picture. Web browsing's sensitivity is low, because even on a slow connection a web page will still completely load...eventually!
|Activity||Data Size||Duration||Bandwidth Used||Variation Sensitivity|
|Web Browsing / Email / Text IM||Small||Short||Low||Low|
|Local folder copy - non-media||Small - Medium||Short||Low - Medium||Low|
|Backup - Incremental||Small - Medium||Short - Medium||Low - Medium||Low|
|Web Video||Small||Short - Medium||Low - Medium||Low|
|VoIP or Voice IM||Small||Medium||Medium||Medium|
|Backup - Full||Large||Long||High||Low|
|BitTorrent, P2P filesharing, downloading||Large||Long||High||Low|
|Local folder copy - media||Large||Long||High||Low|
|Standard Definition Video Stream||Large||Long||High||High|
|HD Video Stream||Very Large||Long||Very High||Very High|
Table 1: Bandwidth of Common Home Network Activities
It's important to note that the table is per user. So more simultaneous users means that available bandwidth will be divided more ways. If you have only one or two users using the network at a time and they are just web browsing, doing email and IMing, then your bandwidth requirements will be relatively low. On the other hand, one HD Video stream requires a relatively high bandwidth.
Since it's important to know whether the technology that you are considering can support these unforgiving media applications, Table 2 is a summary of the actual bandwidth ranges required by common multimedia application types.
|VoIP, Voice IM||24 - 128 kbps|
|Streaming Music||64 - 128 kbps|
|Web Video||0.5 - 1.5 Mbps|
|Uncompressed Standard Definition MPEG 2 (DVD VOB file)||5-7 Mbps (average)
10-12 Mbps (peak)
|HD Video (H.264)||7-10 Mbps (average)
20+ Mbps (peak)
Table 2: Bandwidth requirements of multimedia applications
Video bandwidths are frustratingly difficult to deal with in terms of throughput planning. This is due to the wide array of compression formats, display resolutions and bit rates in use. Needless to say, if you are planning on using a wireless LAN to support streaming video, more throughput is always better.