How to manage slower internet and low bandwidth

Productivity while working and learning remotely can be affected by the type of internet connection you’re on. Not everyone has access to high-speed (broadband) internet. Even if you do, access may be interrupted or degraded.

There are some steps you can take when dealing with slower internet bandwidth.

On this page:

Symptoms of low internet bandwidth
What activities use the most bandwidth?
What to do if there are bandwidth issues?
Technical resources

Symptoms of low internet bandwidth

While working or learning remotely, problems can appear during web conferences, accessing online tools, or even playing back recorded video content. They might look like:
  • During live video or web conferences
    • Audio sounds scrambled or cuts out
    • Screen freezes or goes blank
    • Disconnect from the session
  • Slow loading web pages
  • Slow upload / download times
  • Slow video loading / playback
  • Timed out connections
These problems may not be exclusive to slow or low bandwidth. In some cases, they may also be indications of computer equipment problems. 

Figure 1: Diagram showing relative bandwidth usage of different types of online tools and activities.

Comparison chart of how different services use internet bandwidth

Figure 1: Description
  • High bandwidth, high immediacy: video conferences, audio conferences
  • High bandwidth, low immediacy: pre-recorded video, asynchronous discussion with video, pre-recorded audio, asynchronous discussion with audio
  • Low bandwidth, high immediacy: collaborative documents, group chat and messaging
  • Low bandwidth, low immediacy: discussion boards with text/images, readings with text/image, email

What to do if there are bandwidth issues

Is it a technology equipment problem?

  • To help diagnose equipment or technical problems, contact the DoIT Help Desk.

During live video or web conferences

Ideas for everyone

  • Close all the programs on your computer except for the tools you’re actively using.
  • Switch to audio only. Use live video only when necessary. Turn off your video to reduce load on the internet connection. In some tools, like Microsoft Teams, you can turn off incoming video, as well.
  • Mute your and/or everyone’s microphone. Only turn microphones on to speak.
  • Switch to chat.

Ideas for instructors

  • Check the network connection status for you and your students in Blackboard Collaborate-Ultra (learn how). This information may help you spot and respond to issues with internet connectivity.  
  • If applicable, try using Canvas Chat, a feature in Canvas that offers instructors and students a real-time way to communicate. Copy and paste Blackboard Collaborate-Ultra chats into Canvas Chat to archive them and work around having to sign into Blackboard.

Prepare ahead of time

Ideas for everyone

  • Use supported web conferencing tools. WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, and Google Hangouts are tools that are supported by the DoIT Help Desk.
  • Check internet speed status ahead of time.
  • Share internet service provider resources including assistance for paying for internet and low-or no-cost internet options.
  • Provide materials for your meeting ahead of time. Lead time can help colleagues or students who might need to download, print, or review materials.
  • Offer alternatives to participation in web conferences. Consider chat meetings, or phone conferences.

Ideas for instructors

  • Switch to pre-recorded (asynchronous) videos. If using Kaltura to upload videos (e.g., recorded PowerPoint files or lecture capture), be advised of a lengthy turn-around time to process and successfully upload videos, especially longer videos. Tip: Save all video files to an additional folder to ensure they aren’t lost!
  • Shorten video length. Aim for 6-7 minute videos or less. Chunk longer lectures into smaller slices.
  • Provide materials for the course ahead of time. Upload documents, files, images, etc. through Canvas in a clearly-titled module or embed with Google Drive or Box.
  • Consider alternatives to video in the event that students aren't able to access them in a timely fashion. Reassure students that there are other ways to access the course content.
  • See additional guidance on the Instructional Continuity site.

Technical resources

DoIT Help Desk

Get assistance via phone, email, chat, online or in-person.

General web conferencing

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra


Keywords:internet, bandwidth, slow, broadband   Doc ID:99515
Owner:Adam H.Group:DoIT Communications KB
Created:2020-03-25 15:04 CDTUpdated:2020-03-30 16:16 CDT
Sites:DoIT Communications KB
Feedback:  0   0