Google Meet Update Means You Can’t Fake a Bad Connection Any More

Slackers Beware: Workspace admins can now see the bandwidth of individual call participants in Google Meet.
Aaron Drapkin

If you’ve ever used poor internet connectivity as an excuse to hop out of a boring meeting, you may have to think of a better one: Google has just made it possible to see individual attendees’ bandwidth in Google Meet calls.

Google Meet is already one of the most widely used web conferencing services on the market, but this new feature could make it an even more attractive proposition to bosses who suspect staff might be faking technical glitches to get out of meetings.

Google’s Bandwidth Tracker

From now, Google Workspace admins will be able to track the bandwidth of all meeting participants from when they join the call to when they hang up.

As Google explains on its Workspace Updates page, “Surfacing this information helps admins visualize participants bandwidth compared to the quality of a call, making it easier for them to determine where a bandwidth bottleneck could be causing low quality.”

The reason this feature is useful is that information about which bitrates are available or being used for a specific endpoint is, as Google says, “critical data” for troubleshooting issues relating to call quality.

Google Meet Screenshot of Bandwidth Tracker

Companies experiencing call quality issues without much understanding of why, and companies with staff working in areas with poor broadband infrastructure, will now have the knowledge needed to implement a fix.

Legacy G Suite customers on Basic and Business plans will have access to this feature, along with all Google Workspace customers. To access the feature, head over to Google Meet inside Google Workspace and click on the Meet Quality Tool.

Is Google’s New Feature Invasive?

The justification for providing the feature is perfectly valid, of course, but some employees may be concerned that their employers are checking if a poor internet connection is genuine, or an attempt to get out of a meeting.

Since the start of the pandemic, demand for software that allows bosses to monitor exactly what their remotely stationed employees are doing during office hours has skyrocketed.

Other tools that provide data about employee workloads – such as granular time-tracking features included in some project management software packages – have also risen in popularity, but aren’t anywhere near as invasive.

This feature is interesting because, on the surface, it hasn’t got anything to do with privacy, and recording bandwidth is something all internet providers do anyway, so it’s not anything new.

However, as with software that has time-tracking functions, it’s about how they’re wielded in the workplace that determines precisely how intrusive they feel and whether employees are privy to the feature’s use.

What if your connection is still poor for some reason other than poor bandwidth? It might not be the easiest thing to convince your employer of, especially with all this new call data they’ll have at their disposal.

Is Google Meet the Best Web Conferencing Service?

It’s one of them, for sure. And, considering the poor broadband connection that many Americans have to deal with, it could become a troubleshooter’s dream.

However, there are plenty of other web conferencing options on the market too, each with its own set of handy features. Zoom, for example, is famous for its breakout rooms feature.

So if you’re wondering which one will be best for your company – or are too lazy to think up a new excuse for missing meetings – be sure to have a look at Google Meet’s rivals too.

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Overall conference calling

Beginners

Longer meetings

Google Workplace users

Users that need hardware

Microsoft users

Larger businesses

Zoho users

Brand-focused businesses

  • High quality audio and video
  • Very reliable and secure
  • Lower cost than competitors
  • Easy to use
  • Feature-rich free version available
  • Intuitive interface
  • Lots of customizability
  • Can also be used for Glip
  • Google Workplace compatibility
  • Very affordable paid plan
  • Advanced features like live captioning
  • 1080p video and HD audio,
  • Integrates with third-party apps
  • Good value
  • Completely free
  • 300 participants
  • Integrates with Microsoft 365
  • Feature-rich software
  • High quality audio and video
  • Easy setup
  • No time limit on free plan
  •  Browser functionality
  •  SSL/128-bit AES encryption
  • Very customizable platform
  • Quality audio
  • Respectable free version
  • Weak free plan
  • Poor audio quality
  • 24-hour meeting limit expires in July 2021
  • 250 meeting participant limit
  • No end-to-end-encryption
  • Unsophisticated chat function
  • No gallery view for guests
  • Steep learning curve
  • Occasional bandwidth issues
  • Recording costs extra
  • Expensive for full features
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Aaron Drapkin is a Senior Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol three years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.

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