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Streaming Music

A number of my clients like to listen to Internet radio stations, like Pandora, at work. Why not? They have a perfectly good computer and it has a perfectly good sound card and a pair of speakers. What is the problem?
The problem is Network Performance.
What I find is that a lot of small businesses have limited amounts of available bandwidth to and from the Internet. A common pipeline is the old standby T1, which is about one and a half Megabits per second, or a Fractional T1 which can go a lot less; plenty of speed for users who need email or to browse the Web.
And hey! Pandora works GREAT! But here’s the catch: the free version of Pandora offers 64 Kilobits per second of streaming media to your desktop. And since it is streaming, that is a continual flow of data, as opposed to the short bursts of bandwidth used in surfing the Web.
OK, you say. That’s only 64K – we have a T1!
Well, that’s true, you do. But that T1 is being used for a number of other things, like your email and your web server and possibly remote access… there are a lot of services you and your co-workers use that are making use of that T1 pipeline to the Internet. Your little 64K is likely to go pretty much unnoticed. But what if you are not the only one listening in? A couple of guys in Sales, and maybe someone from the Art Department, the numbers add up. Each of these computers is using up 64K, so multiply that out – ten users is 640K, or nearly half of the total available bandwidth for your company!
Further, Pandora offers a better-sounding version, with no time limits, called Pandora One, and it’s pretty cheap. It offers 192K streaming!
I don’t mean to pick on Pandora in particular – that is just the most common name I’ve been seeing lately. Many of the radio stations in existence on the airwaves also offer Internet streaming, with varying levels of quality. The rule of thumb here is that the better the quality, the more bandwidth it is using up. And multiply that out by the number of users listening in from their computers – pretty soon you begin to see some heavy slowdowns!
I personally am a big fan of music while I work – but an MP3 player or a collection of CDs, or even a real, old-fashioned radio might be a wiser choice for the workplace!