Help for low bandwidth situations for Teams for EDU
There are a lot of network elements when it comes to working with Microsoft Teams that can affect performance, and low bandwidth is one of the situations that can feel entirely out of your control. Consider the following:
- A low-speed internet connection for the school.
- A low-speed internet connection for one or more students.
- Times of the day when there is low bandwidth due to network usage in an area.
- Low bandwidth periods due to outages local to neither the school nor to students, but which impact performance nonetheless.
- Non-bandwidth issues (for example, issues with hardware) that masquerade as low bandwidth issues.
This article will give you best practices to follow for a variety of Teams activities when you're faced with a low-bandwidth issue.
There's information here on How Microsoft Teams uses memory, because in addition to low bandwidth problems, you may be having resource issues on your device. If you're looking for network guidance for Microsoft Teams, review Prepare your organization's network for Microsoft Teams.
Resolving low bandwidth issues for ITAdmins
The important thing to remember, as an ITAdmin, is that while you have solutions for low bandwidth issues that are wide-spread that will resolve problems quickly, this should be considered carefully, as some issues may be able to resolved with a more narrow focus taken at the educator or even the student/parent level.
In short, if the low bandwidth issue occurs for a wide group of students, taking action as an ITAdmin makes sense, and it also makes sense if the actions taken at the student/educator level haven't been helpful.
If you've got the time to invest, the Quality of Experience Review Guide is a worthwhile read (this is not EDU-specific, but it will still have valuable information). This will allow experienced ITAdmins to go in-depth on the experience for their educators and students.
Meetings and video
A primary focus for low bandwidth issues are meetings, and specifically video in meetings. We have some of the actions below that an ITAdmin should consider when dealing with issues reported by students or educators in regard to having the best meeting experience in an educational setting.
In regards to meetings, one of the most concerning areas for low bandwidth situations has to do with videos. Fortunately, in addition to Teams being able to scale to detected bandwidth automatically, you as an ITAdmin have policy options you can set at the per-organizer and/or per-user level to give everyone the best experience in light of the bandwidth they have to work with at a given time.
Some of the things you can set via policy include:
- Disabling video altogether, so no one could enable it.
- Media bit rate (this is set per-user).
To learn more about your options, and to walk through the specifics of what policies you'd need to set for meetings and video, check out Meeting policy settings in Teams: Audio and video for detailed walk-through information.
Screen sharing policies
In other cases, educators may be sharing their entire screen to students, when sharing should be limited to an application relevant to the lesson being taught. This can also be set via policy, if that's a more desirable way to do it than to have educators making that choice individually.
For a good idea of what you can do about limiting screen sharing via policy settings, check out Meeting policy settings in Teams: Screen sharing.
Dial-in number for meetings
It may be easier for some students to attempt to dial in to some classroom sessions. You can provide a dial-in number for Teams meetings, so students with issues can phone in as an alternative to attending a video meeting.
For more information on this, you can read Set the phone numbers included on invites in Microsoft Teams.
Low bandwidth scenarios as an educator
Educators should feel empowered to take steps to resolve low bandwidth issues, and may be a superior choice to ITAdmin action in the following situations:
- If the problem is intermittent, or relatively transitory.
- If there is a specific time of the day you can anticipate there being an issue, or the low bandwidth period has some predictability to it.
In these situations, you can take some actions.
For more information, check out Use Teams for schoolwork when bandwidth is low.
Low bandwidth scenarios as a parent or student
There are also situations, and you should proactively discuss them with your educators, where the bandwidth problem may be on the student's side (for example, a large number of students are able to watch the video lessons without issue, but a small number of students have difficulties).
It's not reasonable to expect many parents to be able to troubleshoot these issues, and low bandwidth issues may be out of a student or parent's control (their home may not have access to high bandwidth, they may have a lot of people in their immediate area consuming bandwidth and affecting what they can do, there may be internet instability, and so on).
We've put together guidance in our Use Teams for schoolwork when bandwidth is low article for parents and students as well, you can review and try these recommendations if you're having any problems.