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Mythbusters: More Bandwidth Doesn’t Always Improve Performance

Combine an increase in the type of traffic running over your network—such as voice, video, and data—with an increase in the users accessing that data, and your network could easily get bogged down. When that happens, your first instinct may be to throw more bandwidth at the problem. In this second installment of our Mythbusters series, we dispel the myth that faster networking gear will solve your performance woes.

Installing faster equipment may improve your network’s performance, but it may not entirely unclog your data bottlenecks. Before you spend money upgrading your network with faster devices, look to see if the switches you already have offer network intelligence features. If not, your switches are handling traffic on a first-come, first-served basis, which means voice-over-IP (VoIP) calls can still drop, video streams can still hang, and data can slow to a crawl.

If the switches you have installed do have network intelligence built in, it’s simply a matter of setting the priority levels for the different types of traffic running over your LAN. By prioritizing traffic, you’re telling the network how to best handle the traffic flowing through the switch, both within your local network and to/from the Internet. For example, you can set a higher priority for VoIP traffic so calls are clear and uninterrupted.

Your current switches don’t offer network intelligence features? Then you may want to consider upgrading to either smart or managed switches that include quality of service (QoS), virtual LAN (VLAN), and multicast forwarding capabilities.

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