After having worked from home for over a year, I can’t stress the importance of a stable internet connection for the team video calls. Yes, service shutdowns are inevitable, and these are occasions where mobile data comes to the rescue. But cellular connectivity can be patchy too, and a 30-minute group video call can easily end up eating a GB or two of data, so it’s not easy on the wallet either. To tackle some of those issues, Microsoft Teams is adding a new Low data mode to its online collaboration platform that will allow users to limit the data usage for video calls.
Additionally, users will be able to adjust the video call settings based on the network bandwidth available. As per the official Microsoft 365 roadmap database, the status of Low data mode feature in Teams is currently listed as ‘Rolling out’ with a March 2021 release date. Here’s how Microsoft describes the new tool in Teams:
“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. A new low data mode allows users to cap the amount of data that will be used during Teams video calls as well as establish different settings based on network availability.”
Coming back to Teams, Microsoft has also been working on a new tool that allows users to transfer an ongoing call from one device to another. This feature will be rolling out for commercial customers this month, and will be widely available in April. Of course, in order to transfer calls, you need to be logged in with the same Teams account on the two devices.
Google is making similar tweaks to video calling on Meet
But Microsoft is not the only one caring about low bandwidth issues for remote workers. A few weeks ago, Google also announced that its Meet video chat service will make adjustments in the background to ensure that users have a smooth experience if they are plagued by slow internet speeds or system resource issues. Meet will make changes such as reducing the video resolution and frame rate, and temporarily turning off some video feeds if you’re on a congested network.