Remote working: Is your Internet connection good enough?

Speed matters, up to a point

Martino Fornasa
4 min readJun 9, 2016
The Internet

A rock-solid internet connection is the essential prerequisite for effective remote working. But what constitutes a good connection? As you can imagine, speed is important, but that’s not the whole picture. Several factors contribute to your remote working experience, not all of them are captured by speed as measured using online tools.


The faster, the better, as people reached by Google fiber can attest. The rest of us need some minimum requirements to rate our connection. Your mileage may vary, but in short, as a remote worker you need a fast connection to:

  1. Download or upload bulky content (design files, video files, audio files, etc.)

2. Video calls

Number 1 is easy to evaluate: if uploading and downloading stuff takes too long, you need an upgrade! Number 2 is trickier, as video call applications make a good job in adapting to the connection quality, but they do that at the expense of video and audio quality, for example by lowering resolution and frame-rate. Low audio and video quality has severe effects on communication quality. In particular, several studies pointed out that low frame-rate video causes the loss of important visual cues, thus hindering an effective face-to-face communication.

So, what are the requirements for crystal-clear audio and video-conferencing? Let’s take Skype. Skype requirements for HD video calling are 1.5 Mbps download speed and 1.5 Mbps upload speed while large group video calls require up to 8 Mbps download speed. In summary:

The minimum requirements for effective video calls is 8 Mbps download / 1.5 Mbps upload.

Measuring your speed

There are several test services out there: you can try, and Bandwidth Place. You should also repeat the test on different times of the day, as Internet infrastructure experiences peak hours. The results are two numbers: a Download and an Upload speed, expressed in Mbps (Megabit per second).

The path from your home to a destination on the Internet is composed by several links. Usually, the weakest link it’s the last mile (the line that reaches your home). So, if your connection speed is too low, you may need to upgrade it. If you can’t upgrade your line, try another technology, for example a 4G/LTE mobile connection.

In summary, if download is better than 8 Mbps and upload is better than 1.5 Mbps, congratulations, you’re all set to work remotely… or not?

Packet loss

Connections speed is only a part the of the whole picture. Connection stability can be even more important. Internet data is carried around in small chunks called packets and your connection could be experiencing packet loss. Packet loss makes your browsing slow, and it causes a decrease in audio/video quality. Checking your connection for packet loss is easy.

If you’re on a Mac, open your Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder, and finally open the Terminal application. On the Terminal, type the following command and hit Enter:

ping -c 50

After one minute, you should see something like:

50 packets transmitted, 50 packets received, 0.0% packet loss
round-trip min/avg/max/stddev = 58.761/59.494/60.527/0.413 ms

Here we can see a 0% packet loss. Brilliant!

If you’re on Windows, open the terminal by selecting the Search box in the Start menu, typing “cmd” and pressing Enter. In the Terminal, type the following command and hit Enter.

ping -n 50

After one minute, you should see something like:

Ping statistics for
Packets: Sent = 50, Received = 50, Lost = 1 (2% loss).

In this case, packet loss is 2%.

A good packet loss rate is zero per cent. That’s correct: networks are very reliable nowadays, and decent Internet connections should not loose packets.

Go wired!

Your Internet connection is no stronger than its weakest link

If you experience packet loss, the first move is to connect your computer directly to your Internet router using an Ethernet cable. WiFi is handy, but it can be unreliable due to interference or bad reception. Try to connect your compute directly to the route and run again the packet loss test, you will be surprised! Restarting the Internet router could help too.

If direct connection does not solve the packet loss, you may need to contact your Internet Service Provider. Good luck!



Martino Fornasa

Independent Consultant & Strategic Advisor | DevOps | Cloud Native —