Microsoft tackles the bandwidth problem for remote workers using Teams

Microsoft is closing another gap on Zoom by ensuring that if you can't be seen, you are at least heard over a poor connection.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft's Teams group is addressing bandwidth problems for people who are using the collaboration platform to work from home.

Google has been tweaking Meet to ensure that it's fit for the job of conducting video meetings from home or work during constrained conditions, such as when the kids are streaming video at the same time as a work meeting needs to happen.

Microsoft is now tackling the same challenge for Teams – the chat, video and collaboration platform that has at least 115 million daily active users.

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The company is taking a leaf from Zoom's strategy, which prioritizes audio over video to make sure users are heard over a poor broadband connection

"Whether you want to preserve data or are in a location with a poor or limited network connection, sometimes it's helpful to limit the amount of data you're using during a video call," Microsoft explains in an update to its roadmap.

"A new low data mode allows users to cap the amount of data that will be used during Teams video calls, as well as to establish different settings based on network availability."

Google is also attempting to address poor network connections for people working from home by automatically adjusting resource usage depending on network conditions, at home or on a corporate network.

In January Google offered Workspace users a new troubleshooting tool for Google Meet that shows users why a local setup may be delivering a poor audio or video experience. For remote workers, it also delivered a new preview experience to help users sort out laggy video and muted mics before entering a call.

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Microsoft will start rolling its low data feature to users this month. As OnMSFT notes, the feature allows users to limit the amount of data used in video calls.

The Microsoft 365 and Teams group has been busy during the pandemic, closing feature gaps between Teams and Zoom. One of the biggest was the lack of a 49-person grid view, which Microsoft addressed in the latter part of 2020.

Zoom, for its part, reported stellar fourth quarter earnings that are rapidly approaching $1bn a quarter, up from $106 million for the same period In 2019. The video-conferencing company has seen over 400% year-on-year growth in usage by small and medium businesses.  

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