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Should my company restrict users from using streaming radio on our network?

Our WAN expert, David Hughes, answers the question "Should my company restrict users from using streaming radio on our network?" in this Q&A.

Should my company restrict users from using streaming radio on our network? Our building is concrete, and users in the basement cannot get a regular analog radio signal at their desks. How much bandwidth does a radio broadcast really use? And, what is a good way to enforce policies banning such usage?

The amount of bandwidth used by a radio broadcast depends on the station and codec, but typically you will see between 16 Kbps to 128 Kbps per stream. It is up to you to decide whether you can afford this. For example, do your users need real time radio, or will pre-recorded music suffice? Are other applications suffering at the expense of this radio traffic?

It is extremely difficult to block everyone under all circumstances. But, some WAN optimization appliances and firewalls do allow you to block most of this type of traffic, even when it uses ephemeral ports or hides within a port 80 session. The type of policy you can enforce will depend upon the solution's capabilities -- e.g., port-based, application-based, etc. In addition, it might be advantageous to identify higher priority traffic and use QoS to ensure that these applications get the bandwidth they deserve. After doing this, you can let other applications, like radio streaming, fight for the remaining bandwidth. In this respect, you don't block your users from their radio, but you do ensure that this service does not come at the expense of others that are more critical to business.

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