Bandwidth Requirement of a Café

The bandwidth (expressed in kilobits per second or kbps) requirement of a café is always a favorite topic in forums of café owners. Questions like “How many PC units can I run if I subscribe to a regular Smart BRO account?” or “What kind of PLDT Business Plan should I subscribe to if I want to have 16 units in a café that I will open?” The specifications of the different DSL subscriptions cannot help because our Internet Service Providers (ISPs) always specify very high bandwidth per unit to be connected to them because they definitely want to earn more from their subscribers.

Many of the posted replies in different forums are also of little help because bandwidth usage varies from a café to another café. While opinions really vary according to one’s choice of internet speed that he wants to give to his customers, prudence dictates that a café owner must follow an industry standard that is neither cheap nor expensive. A hard and fast rule can be established based on experiences and current practices of the players in the industry. This should be especially useful for those who will open a café for the first time.

At present, if you will ask the ISP representatives or look at their websites about the subject of this article, more often than not, you will be told that a residential of 384 kbps is good for one (1) computer unit only, the lowest bandwidth for a business plan of 1,500 kbps (1.5Mbps) is good for 3 to 5 units, and so on and so forth. If a café owner will follow these figures, he will definitely find his business losing on bandwidth expense alone.

But how much bandwidth should you really allocate per PC? Let me cite our experience from wayback when ISPs had only dial-up and ISDN connections to offer. Back then (about year 2000), we connect four (4) PCs to a 28.8 kbps dial-up internet service and eight (8) units to a 64 kbps ISDN connection. We did not yet have the bandwidth hungry YouTube and the music downloads that we have today so the 8 kbps per PC was sufficient.

Today when bandwidth is a bit cheaper and online games, audio and video downloading are happening all at the same time in cafés, the 8 kbps/PC will definitely not do anymore but feedbacks on a forum thread I started at ULOP on the same subject showed that 64 kbps per PC unit should suffice. There’s a rider though, bandwidth manager should be in place.

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