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What to do if your Internet music service gets the hiccups

Posted by John on February 15th, 2013

Custom Channels delivers music and messaging over the Internet to business locations. Occasionally, we hear from a customer who is having a problem with their in-store music cutting in and out.  Technically, this is often called “buffering” or “rebuffering” and it usually means the Custom Channels media player is not able to receive data fast enough to play music uninterrupted. The music stops, or stops and starts, or has a skipping effect like the hiccups.

Our music streams require a small, but constant, Internet connection. The typical Custom Channels streams are 64 to 96kbps. We’ve processed our streams so even though the bandwidth is low, the audio quality is excellent. Under normal circumstances, our Internet music service should use 5% or less of available Internet bandwidth.

Usually it’s not the music stream itself that has a problem. What’s causing the music to hiccup is likely also causing other things on your network to run slowly or not run at all. Music hiccups are an obvious first sign of trouble on the network or Internet connection, so it’s worth investigating and solving.

Recommendations for the most reliable Internet-delivered music service:

Corral the Bandwidth Hogs. These can cause all kinds of slowdowns and interruptions. Primary hogs are:

  • Public WiFi.  All it takes is a few customers streaming YouTube videos, playing games, listening to Pandora, or downloading photos to put a real crimp in your bandwidth.
  • Security cameras.  Many stores stream the security video. The boss might watch the store from another location. If you must stream security video (beyond storing it locally), use a setting that requires less bandwidth. The combination of streaming security AND public WiFi can cause significant slowdown and network congestion.

We recommend to ALWAYS use one Internet service for public WiFi and one for the main business use. This is smart for both security and stability reasons.

Manage your network traffic. Most small business networks are fairly straightforward – a modem and a router with a bunch of computers and devices plugged in to one source. If there’s too much connected to just one Internet connection, it’s like having every electrical appliance and light bulb in your place plugged into one power strip – eventually something’s going to overload or stop working.

Creating dedicated bandwidth for Internet music is easy. It’s small, less than 100kbps, and gives the music priority status with bandwidth to keep the music playing without hiccups.

An IT professional can suggest equipment and network configurations such as Quality of Service (QoS) that can ensure all of your network devices (POS, security, music, phones, computers) get the bandwidth they need without interfering with each other or being a Bandwidth Hog.

Do an internet speed check (www.speedtest.net) to make sure your Internet Service Speed is as fast as it should be. Slow speed coming into your location can be a problem for a lot of services you depend on, not just music.  If it’s slow, call your ISP to have them investigate.

Check new computers or new devices may have been installed recently on your network resulting in decreased or slow service all around. Also, check to see if anyone has made any changes to the router or firewall settings.

Custom Channels offers service after the sale for our Internet-delivered in-store music. We rarely have to troubleshoot customer issues but when a problem does crop up, we’re available to help find a solution. No one wants their music to have the hiccups.

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