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A Personal Reality Check for Bandwidth Caps

Posted by Andrew at 3:35 AM on March 5, 2010

Over the years of GNC, I’ve heard Todd rail on about broadband bandwidth caps and while I’ve enjoyed his rants, it’s been low priority topic for me.  Why? Because I think I’m a power user with a good selection of podcasts, a fair bit of online TV viewing, some (legal) music downloads. However, in a single month, I have never got anywhere near 50GB.  I think 30-something gigs was the most.

And then came the email from my service provider telling me that if I continued as I was going, I would exceed my bandwidth cap shortly.  Although I wouldn’t be cut-off, daytime bandwidth would be throttled.  I was a bit surprised but when I checked the firewall logs, it was correct – if anything, they were under-measuring by a few GB.

So, looking back, why the surge in data usage?  Well, I’m going to blame Todd and the Tech Podcast Network coverage of CES.  It was so good, I downloaded every single one of the videos, watched a few of them on-line, just couldn’t get enough.  I even downloaded some of the them twice, once for my PC and once for my Palm Pre!

Removing tongue from cheek, yes, it was the coverage of CES that bumped up the stats but it showed me that a bandwidth allocation of 50GB per month doesn’t actually go that far once you start getting into video.

Recently, I’ve also bought an Archos media player that can go online and stream content direct to my TV.  I’ve been pretty impressed by the viewing experience, even with only a wireless connection.  Although I can do the same with my laptop, having a dedicated appliance is far move convenient.

I don’t have any doubt that online distribution of films and TV programmes will take off in a big way, especially when it comes built-in to the TVs.  As an aside, a built-in media player is far more attractive to me than 3-D!  It’s also clear to me now that the telecoms companies are going to have to up their game to cope. If they’re smart, it’s an opportunity to make money and the competition for broadband services in the UK is pretty healthy. 

For consumers like me, it’s time to start looking for deals with caps bigger than 50GB.