According to ArsTechnica, the Belgian ISP Telenet recently published a list of its top 25 downloaders. At the top of the list was a customer who sometime this summer managed to burn some 2.68 Terabytes of data in a single month. That’s an impressive number, almost a thousand times the average broadband customer and worthy of almost anyone’s definition of a ‘bandwidth hog’. No word on precisely what data was being downloaded, but it can’t very well have been anything other than a whole lot of video. But as Rudolf van der Berg points out over on his Internet Thought blog, it actually isn’t as bad as it looks.
First, it is just the equivalent to using 9Mbps on a sustained basis for the entire period. Not possible if you are just browsing, but if you’re just leaving on a TV with a high def feed? In a few years, 2.7Tb may seem pitifully small, as the leading edge of tech savvy users figure out how to really leverage an FTTH connection. Second, what Telenet has to pay for IP transit and peering to support a 2.7Tb monthly load isn’t that far out of proportion to the what they charge the customer – at least for today’s cheapest bandwidth rates. While there are other costs to Telenet, including the cost of the equipment backhauling that traffic etc, it doesn’t really matter because individual usage – even this much – is not the relevant number that determines costs.
The whole bandwidth hog thing is just a PR thing anyway, a way to justify tiered pricing. The only numbers that matter are the average bandwidth used across all users, or perhaps all users in each neighborhood. If those numbers don’t spike, then the ISP has no additional costs to cover due to individual bandwidth hogs. There will always be those who use much more than average, and there will be others who don’t use a single bit in a month since they were in the Canary Islands or something.
But so what, let tiered pricing exist. If it’s a bad idea that has no business justification, then someone will undercut them eventually.
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