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Of bandwidth “hogs”

Noted in the Chron, an article saying Online bandwidth hogs to be cut off at trough, covering technologies being tested by broadband providers to meter internet usage and cut off heavy users, or at least push them into a more expensive tier.

It’s an interesting bit of bias to see how the article takes the ISP’s at face value by decreeing in the headline that heavy users are “hogs”. To be objective about it, just what is “hogging” the line? In a case study of a cable system in Texas cited by the article, Time Warner bumps users into the next pricing tier when they use more than 20 GB a month.

How much does it take to blow your limit, and can you do it without being a BitTorrenting media pirate? Well, I only have to look at my development work. For a while, Apple was putting out an iPhone SDK beta almost every week, at 1.5 GB each. So, four weeks of that and you’re up to 6 GB. Let’s say I also pick up a new Snow Leopard seed… recent Mac OS X install DVDs have been about 6 GB. Two of those in the same month and I’m up to 18GB. Add the documentation, a few software updates, an iTunes movie, any of the same downloads to a second computer, or just typical web use over the course of a month, and I’m over the limit, without ever having BitTorrented a damn thing.

Or, to hear the broadband providers tell it, I’m a bandwidth hog.

Their position isn’t too surprising, of course. If I were still trying to make 21st century revenues off 20th century infrastructure (or, in the case of the phone companies, 19th century), and I had a government-enforced monopoly to protect me from competition, then of course I’d want to give customers as little for as much money as I possibly could. And I’d get away with it, because exclusive government enfranchisement, funded with a small amount of campaign cash, would let me do more or less whatever the hell I wanted with my captive customers.

And if all the software development jobs move to less backwards countries, well, that’s not really the fault of the government and the ISPs, now is it? Nah, sleazy public-private collusion at the expense of the economy is the American Way.

Comment (1)

  1. […] some bandwidth-rationing regimes, I’d be closing in on a bandwidth cap. I ranted about this before, but this is a textbook case of why the US’ broadband oligopoly is going to hurt the country […]

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