How to manage slower internet and low bandwidth

Productivity while working and learning remotely can be affected by your internet speed and competition for bandwidth. It's helpful to remember that not everyone has access to or can afford high-speed (broadband) internet. And, even if you normally have access to high-speed internet, your access may be interrupted or degraded during periods of heavy usage. This document includes helpful tips how to manage slower internet speed and low bandwidth.

In this page:

Symptoms of low internet bandwidth

While working or learning remotely, you may encounter challenges with participating in 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

What activities use the most bandwidth?

Comparison chart of how different services use internet bandwidth. Details of chart appear in the figure description.
Figure 1: Diagram showing relative bandwidth usage of different types of online tools and activities.
  • 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?

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

  • Use supported web conferencing tools. WebEx, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts are tools that are supported by the DoIT Help Desk.
  • Provide materials for your meeting or class ahead of time. Lead time can help colleagues or students who might need to download, print, or review materials.
  • Try chat meetings or phone calls as an alternative to web conferences.
  • Provide alternative methods of engagement and collaboration, perhaps via Google Docs or Microsoft Office online.
  • Switch to pre-recorded (asynchronous) videos.
  • Shorten video length. Aim for 6-7 minute videos or less. Chunk longer lectures into smaller slices.

Technical resources

DoIT Help Desk

General web conferencing



Keywords:internet, bandwidth, slow, broadband, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, google disconnect screen freeze, audio cuts out,   Doc ID:99515
Owner:Adam H.Group:DoIT Communications KB
Created:2020-03-25 14:04 CSTUpdated:2022-08-25 06:46 CST
Sites:DoIT Communications KB, DoIT Help Desk
Feedback:  5   1