How to troubleshoot Hangouts Meet connection issues

In an ideal world, everyone who joins a video conference does so with a state-of-the-art noise cancelling microphone and a high-resolution video camera on a current generation high-end device connected to a fast, wired connection. And everything works flawlessly.

In reality, many people connect to video conferences over constrained bandwidth wireless connections with less-than-optimal equipment. And conferencing still works-at least more often than not.

Analysis of video conferencing challenges too often starts with: "Hmmm... not sure," proceeds to "try a reboot," and ends with "...maybe you need better equipment and a faster internet connection?"

SEE: Google Drive: Tips and tricks for business professionals (Tech Pro Research)

However, if your organization uses G Suite and Hangouts Meet, an administrator may access conferencing connection data to help diagnose persistent problems. Here's how to access and act on this data, along with a few additional steps to minimize video meeting challenges.

Hangouts Meet analytics for admins

To access Hangouts Meet connection analytics, a G Suite administrator can open a browser to https://admin.google.com, sign in, then select Apps | G Suite | Google Hangouts | Meet Quality Tool (Figure A).

Figure A

The Hangouts Meet quality tool displays conferencing data details. Not only can you identify meetings held by date, time, and participants, but you can also look at network congestion, packet loss, and jitter information for each meeting. Select a column to sort the results; for example, select the Network Congestion column to show the meetings with the most congestion (Figure B).

Figure B

In the upper left portion of the screen, you can switch between viewing Hangouts Meet quality data by meeting, by participant, or by Google meeting room hardware. This way, an administrator can look into problems consistently encountered by a particular person or in a specific place.

How Hangouts Meet participants can help

1. Score session quality

If you participate in a Hangouts Meet session, take the time to score the session. After you leave a meeting, you'll see a prompt to rate the session from 1 to 5 stars (Figure C). If quality was fine, rate it 5 stars. If you dropped video or audio just briefly, rate it lower. If you struggled to see or share video consistently, rate it lower.

Figure C

The star scores from participants also give a G Suite administrator additional insight into Hangouts Meet session quality. For example, consistently poor ratings from a conference room might suggest network or equipment problems that merit more troubleshooting.

Keep in mind that the Meet star score is intended to rate the Meet tool quality, not the meeting content. Google's team can work to improve the Hangouts Meet system, but artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are not yet able to overcome the human capacity to hold tedious or mundane meetings.

2. Check connection speed

If you experience problems, you might also run a quick internet speed test. Open a browser, go to www.google.com, search for Speed Test, and then select Run Speed Test (Figure D). Wait a bit and you'll see the results, which will show the download and upload speeds of your internet connection.

Figure D

Support documentation for Hangouts Meet suggests you'll want an upload speed of 3.2 Mbps and a download speed of 2.6 Mbps for 1-to-1 video calls (and 3.4 Mbps for video calls with six or more people).

A few fixes

You can make a few adjustments in an attempt to improve Hangouts Meet session quality. For example:

For the last two, you'll need administrative access to your router or device. QoS settings aren't needed for Hangouts Meet, as the system already actively manages connection quality. As for DNS, not all internet service providers place a priority on delivering effective DNS services; in some cases, if you switch your DNS settings to Google's DNS servers, you may improve network performance.

SEE: Resolve to resolve DNS faster (TechRepublic)

If none of the above works, you might conclude that you actually do need better equipment and/or a faster internet connection. For faster internet, contact your internet service provider to learn your upgrade options. As for hardware, in early February 2019, Google announced new systems designed for Hangout Meet in partnership with Logitech as well as Acer.

Your experience?

If you and your team use Hangouts Meet, what has your experience been like using the system? Has your company moved to a video-centric meeting culture? Let me know how this has changed how your team collaborates and communicates. Post your thoughts in the comments below or share the impact with me on Twitter (@awolber).

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