Teams: Love/Hate Relationship

With so many folks under shelter in place mandate, working from home is a wake up call to today’s business world. Where most of us who manage large numbers of computers in enterprise environments, the ability to work remotely has been a must in our position.

Whether the user has a teleworker gateway or connects over VPN, the user needs to be able to work on files, email, and of course conference calls. As stressful as the past few weeks has been, seeing your teammates on a Teams call instills a sense of calm. At least until you’re asked for the status of a task/project you’re working on…that’s a subject for another blog. 🙂

So yea, I’m connected at home, and Teams is working, and audio is mostly OK, but geez some folks sound like Max Headroom. In most cases the person with lousy audio is shoehorning all internet traffic over a single network, and running Teams through a VPN connection. Say. Bye. To. Quality.

So how do I address these issues? I have a dual-band router that provides a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network, and I use DD-WRT to manage traffic.

I connect my work and personal Macs to my 2.4 GHz network, since there’s plenty of bandwidth to get work done during work day hours, and I can Facebook/surf/study during the evenings and weekends.

I connect my iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and my AppleTV to my 5 GHz network, which I tuned to prioritize VoIP. This way I can join Team meetings on my iOS device and benefit from excellent sound quality with minimal latency.

How good is it? I ran some tests with colleagues and family. Teams audio has minimal latency and compression…same for Facetime audio/video calls. To test I simply started some Teams calls using my work computer (2.4 GHz, no VoIP priority, and on VPN) and it was pure crap.

The switch to my iPhone and audio and camera is now very high quality. I still run Teams on my work computer for viewing when folks are sharing their screen.

Prioritizing VoIP on one network using a dual-band router is one reason there’s such a big difference. The second reason is iOS doesn’t have to go through VPN or a teleworker gateway.

I betcha that detail opened some eyes. Hope this helps you remote workers. Oh, and I don’t hate Teams anymore. 🙂