Most of us are familiar with the frustration of waiting for a webpage to load, or a file to download, owing to sluggish Internet speeds? It feels like being stuck in “bumper-to-bumper” traffic during rush hours, with no end in sight. Rather than losing your temper or getting upset, have you ever wondered what is causing these delays? Chances are that the culprit might very well be network congestion.
In this blog, we talk about the meaning of network congestion, the factors responsible for it, and most importantly, how to resolve it.
What Causes Network Congestion?
The reason why network congestion happens is when too much data is being transmitted through a particular link or node. This leads to delays, packet loss and even disconnections. With time, as our dependence on digital technologies increases, network congestion becomes a significant obstacle for enterprise IT operations.
It is important for businesses to understand what exactly is causing network congestion, and how can they address this issue. Some of the leading causes of network congestion are mentioned below.
In the bustling world of business networks, a diverse range of traffic flows constantly, from unicast to broadcast and multicast. While each type plays a crucial role in keeping the network up and running, they must be carefully prioritized to avoid bottlenecks and congestion.
At times, inter-mixed traffic can also wreak havoc with the network, leading to un-expected outages and disruptions. That’s where Quality of Service (QoS) protocols come in handy, allowing savvy network administrators to manage and regulate network traffic more effectively. With properly defined QoS protocols on their side, businesses can dodge misconfigured traffic, and ensure their network remains fast, reliable and stress-free.
In some cases, certain users or devices may utilize a disproportionate amount of bandwidth compared to others. This leads to slow connections for other users. This can occur, for example, when downloading sizable files or streaming high definition videos, which may consume a substantial portion of the available bandwidth. If left un-checked, this situation could have a significant adverse impact on the connectivity of other users.
Poor Subnet Management
A large network is typically divided into smaller networks called subnets, which are further subdivided into network segments assigned to specific users or groups. If there is an increase in traffic congestion within a segment, the network will automatically assign additional resources to handle the increased load. However, poor subnet management could lead to congestion and slow down data transmission.
In addition, outdated devices such as switches, routers, servers and internet exchange points can create bottlenecks in data transmission, leading to congestion. When too many devices are added to the network, in violation of design capacities, it can also become congested and slow down or stop data transmission altogether.
Symptoms of Network Congestion
Network congestion can exhibit a variety of symptoms that can hamper the performance of your network. Some of these symptoms are mentioned below.
- Firstly, you may experience slow network speeds, which can lead to frustratingly long wait times for web pages to load, and files to download.
- Additionally, frequent disconnections can disrupt work and interrupt vital tasks. This also has a very bad impact on the User Experience (UX).
- High latency and packet loss can also cause delays and lost data, ultimately leading to inefficiency and errors.
- Finally, difficulty accessing network resources can create problems when attempting to complete critical tasks, or actively collaborating with team members.
How to Fix Network Congestion?
Network congestion can be a frustrating problem for many users. Now that we have covered some of the causes of network congestion, let’s discuss how to fix it.
Traffic Prioritization and Quality of Service (QoS)
One way to reduce congestion is to prioritize certain types of traffic over others. For instance, video conferencing and online gaming require more bandwidth and lower latency, as compared to web browsing. By implementing QoS policies on their networks, businesses can make sure that high-priority traffic is given preferential treatment over lower-priority traffic.
Bandwidth Management and Upgrades
For businesses facing the problem of constant network congestion, it may be time to consider upgrading their bandwidth, or adopting bandwidth management techniques. This could be done by increasing the internet connection speed, or adding more bandwidth to specific applications, users or workloads.
Network Optimization and Redesign
Sometimes, inefficient network design or outdated equipment can also cause network congestion. To fix this, either the network architecture must be optimized, or the hardware must be updated. This can improve the overall network performance.
Regular Network Monitoring and Maintenance
Keeping a close eye on the network can also help businesses identify and address congestion issues, before they become major problems. Regular network monitoring and maintenance can help IT team(s) spot bottlenecks, troubleshoot issues and ensure that the network is performing at its best.
Implementing Congestion Control Algorithms
Congestion control algorithms are also an effective means to prevent network congestion. They are used to regulate traffic flow, and prevent congestion from occurring in the first place.
Leveraging Advanced Solutions
Even though network congestion can be a huge problem for many enterprises, the good news is that there are numerous cutting-edge and advanced solutions available to fix it. These solutions assist businesses in achieving lightning-fast speeds when it comes to browsing and streaming.
One such solution is Software-Defined Networking (SDN), which allows for greater control and flexibility over network traffic flows. Another effective solution is a Content Distribution Network (CDN). This distributes content across multiple servers and data centers. This not only improves speed and reliability, but also reduces the strain on any one particular server, thereby reducing congestion.
And let’s not forget about load balancing and traffic shaping, which can help distribute traffic more evenly across a network, and also prioritize certain types of traffic over others. With these advanced solutions, you can say goodbye to network congestion, and hello to a faster, smoother online experience.
Even though the word “congestion” may initially bring to mind images of traffic jams on the highway, it is important to remember that network congestion can be just as frustrating and detrimental.
Whether it’s caused by high data traffic, network misconfiguration, insufficient bandwidth or hardware limitations, network congestion can result in restricted flow, and ultimately hinder the performance of your network.
However, by understanding the common causes of network congestion and implementing advanced preventive solutions, enterprises can avoid the headaches of downtime and reduced productivity. So, take the necessary actions today, and keep your network moving at full speed!
Generally, finding the right networking policies and solutions for your organization can be a challenge. Luckily, service providers like ATSG are stepping up to offer versatile options that can meet diverse business requirements, and help drive positive outcomes.
One such solution is ATSG’s Managed Network Services (MNS), which promise peace of mind for enterprises by providing top-notch network management. This commitment to excellence has also been recognized by industry experts, as ATSG Optanix (OPTX) was declared a Leader in the 2022 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Managed Network Services (MNS).
That’s not it, ATSG can also be a reliable partner to help with your IT and digital transformation journey. Our Design & Implementation Services are there to spearhead your digital transformation initiatives with the highest industry standards and certified technology experts.
Don’t let complex engineering requirements hold you back. Contact ATSG today, to see how we can help you achieve your IT goals in a seamless manner.