Welcome to 2016 at the Skype4B Insider! I’ll start off the year with responding to reader questions. (Seems reasonable, since you as readers are the most important part of the blog!)
Over the holidays I received not one, but two readers asking a question about 4G. They went (roughly) like this:
#1 – “When I try to make a call over 4G, the audio works. But I can’t share my screen.”
#2 – “When I try to do a video session on my phone in a meeting, it (Skype for Business) won’t let me. I’m on 4G.”
A Question of Bandwidth
According to Wikipedia, the 4G standard’s peak speed is 100Mbit/s for “high mobility communication” (e.g. from trains and cars), and 1Gbit/s for “low mobility communication” (people standing or walking).
Of course, mobile providers control 4G with a heavy hand. “The Fastest Speeds! Unlimited Data! …Oh wait, you thought we really meant ‘unlimited’? That’s cute.”
According to Skype for Business’ Network Bandwidth Requirements page, the required bandwidth for video sessions varies depending on codec used. But it can require up to 4Mbps, just for the video!
Most of us wouldn’t use that much; audio calls work fine on only 100-200Kbps. But when you’re adding a few people into an Online Meeting, and someone activates screen sharing, your bandwidth requirement could shoot up to a level where 4G cannot cope. Whether from signal strength, or from the provider throttling it.
Our experience with 3G/4G is similar. When using Wi-Fi or Ethernet, full capacity is easily managed (on a Standard Edition with default bandwidth configuration). When using 3G or 4G, sharing capabilities are limited or unavailable, and video is choppy or fails.
If you control the 3G/4G pipe, then of course you can configure both the pipe and Skype for Business to accommodate higher bandwidth. Here’s a bandwidth calculator for Skype for Business, if you need help.
Sometimes 4G Just Doesn’t Behave
All that said, this isn’t the first time a 4G network refused to cooperate with Lync/Skype for Business.Â In fact I documented the issue back in January 2014:
Issues With Lync 2013 â€“ Known and Unknown (But Documented)
“Sharing and video call invitations fail on some mobile 4G networks”
Version: Lync 2013 Windows Store App, June 2013 Update
Explanation: On some mobile 4G networks, you may not be able to send or receive video in meetings and video calls or to see shared content in meetings. When youâ€™re in a call or meeting, a notification will be displayed that video or sharing is available, but clicking Accept will result in a failure because the mobile network connection is temporarily lost.
Workaround: No workaround is available at this time.
Additional Reference: Difference between Lync Mobility Using 3G/4G and Wifi – TechNet Support
I checked again for a workaround (it has been a while since MS documented the issue), but found nothing. Overall, Skype for Business’ bandwidth management is much better than Lync Server 2013. But it’s still a powerful system with heavy requirements.
When Using 4G, Some Skype4B Options May Not Cooperate. Sorry!
Since this is an issue with 4G providers, we don’t have a simple solution. One software patch won’t fix bandwidth allocation for multiple mobile providers worldwide. In addition, since 4G is almost always limited by providers, Skype4B’s video/sharing requirements may exceed those limits by default.
It’s frustrating, I know. But using Skype for Business in an office environment, where you have configurable Wi-Fi or Ethernet, often trumps ISPs’ 4G.
Do you regularly use Skype for Business on mobile? How is your bandwidth configured in light of this? Please comment or email. I’d love to hear the different ways people have configured their Skype for Business Servers.
If you’re just joining us, welcome! Please share how you got here and what you’d like to see. Don’t forget to subscribe (signup box is at top right).
Next week I’ll go through the December poll results, and 2016 plans for the blog. Nobody wants to miss that!