I was thinking about logging into Pandora at work like I do at home, but I'm concerned about sucking up all of the available bandwidth on the network with something that's not strictly work-related. I don't have a thorough technical understanding of how streaming content like Internet radio is delivered, so I don't really know how to measure the impact.

Can anyone offer any perspective on how much bandwidth Internet radio consumes relative to normal Internet browsing? Is there any way to measure how much I'm using for a specific site like Pandora?

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    The problem with bandwidth is not with one user using a service, generally. Its with a bunch of users using the service at the same time. I would be careful and make sure that your organization doesn't already have an acceptable use policy in place that prevents the usage of audio streaming services already.
    – Psycho Bob
    Apr 27 '10 at 16:38

It depends on the Internet Radio site/stream... whether it streams at 32kbps, 64kbps, 128kbps, or more. Most streams are of the 128kbps variety.

I don't think there is a standard benchmark as to what bandwidth does "normal" internet browsing consumes, but let's just say if you choose a 64kbps stream, it consumes bandwidth at about 7 kilobytes per second, which is equivalent to 420 kilobytes per minute, which is equivalent to about 25 megabytes per hour - that is way less than if you were to watch YouTube for an hour straight.

Since watching YouTube is normal internet surfing activity now, I would say you are well within limits. ;)

Go ahead, play that funky music.

To measure the bandwidth usage of your net radio usage, you can try Bandwidth Monitor. Don't do anything for five minutes but stream radio, and it will give you a rough estimation of how much bandwidth is needed.

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    They usually 128kbps as it sounds at least remotely good. Which means 50MB per hour.
    – vava
    Sep 9 '09 at 12:56
  • As of right now my employer doesn't consider YouTube to be normal Internet usage, so using that as a benchmark might get me into a lot of trouble! Thanks for the calculations and the link, +1.
    – jmgant
    Sep 9 '09 at 13:16
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    IIRC, Pandora is 64 kb/s for free accounts, and 192 kb/s for Pandora One users. That said, streaming audio/video does not have the same usage pattern as web browsing does. Nor can it be reliably cached & proxied the same way normal web traffic can. While 64 kb/s isn't much at all for a single user, if another 20 or 30 people in the office also decide to listen to Pandora, that's 1.3 to 1.9 Mb/s, or more than complete T-1 of usage that's constantly competing with legitimate business traffic.
    – afrazier
    Apr 27 '10 at 15:15
  • 64kb (kilobits) is 8 KB (kilobytes) not 7.
    – aleemb
    Jan 2 '12 at 7:24
  • @afrazier In a loud office with tight deadlines, Pandora is mission critical! Mar 25 '15 at 20:14

For one user on a home connection, internet radio is fine. For that matter, just one internet radio user on a corporate network would be fine. But you're not just one user in isolation. You're one user out of many. Taken together, the bandwidth used for internet radio by all of you as a group ads up really quickly and can be a significant cost for a company.

The big difference between streaming content and normal web surfing is the bandwidth consumed by streaming content is constant, while normal page surfing only uses bandwidth in very short bursts.

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