University of Wisconsin–Madison
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How to manage slower internet & 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. Here are some helpful tips for how to manage slower internet speed and low bandwidth.

What activities use the most bandwidth?

Bandwidth
  • High bandwidth, high immediacy: Video conferences, audio conferences
  • High bandwidth, low immediacy: Pre-recorded video, asynchronous (pre-recorded) 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

Construction Crew working on a computer keyboard

Is it a technology equipment problem?

Person with cat on their lap working on a laptop

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.
  • Mute your microphone unless you’re speaking.
  • Switch to chat.

Ideas for instructors

  • Check the network connection status for you and your students in Blackboard Collaborate-Ultra (learn how).
  • If applicable, try using Canvas Chat, a feature in Canvas that offers instructors and students a real-time way to communicate.

Cisco Webex Meeting icon

Prepare ahead of time

  • Use supported web conferencing tools. Webex, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, 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

Computer repair

DoIT Help Desk

Get assistance via phone, email, chat, online or in-person.

Web conferencing

Overview: Web conferencing tools simplified
Detailed: Which web conferencing tool should I use?

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra

Bandwidth requirementsBest practicesHosting events with more than 250 people
(requires pre-planning)

Webex

Bandwidth requirementsBest practices

What to do if there are bandwidth issues

shopping cart icon

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, Blackboard Collaborate Ultra, 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.

Get the help you need when and how you need it

Need a disability-related accommodation?


Contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center for assistance.

Need help with a technology issue?


The DoIT Help Desk stands at the ready 7 days a week via phone, email, chat.