Thursday, February 26, 2015

How Many Times Can You Download The Entire Encyclopedia Britannica?

I thought this article on the uncertain value of huge data pipes was quite good. Here's the payoff in case you don't want to click.
When the BTIG Research firm last October began covering the Internet pipe operator Cogent Communications , its report contained an amusing insight. Cogent’s last-mile business customers buy a service that offers 100 megabits per second. The average use by these customers, though, is only about 12 mbps, and barely “one or two dozen of their customers have ever reached 50% utilization of the 100 MB pipe,” says BTIG.

Yet despite this demonstration of how little bandwidth customers actually use, Cogent also offers a one-gigabit service. “Interestingly, the usage of these customers does not likely differ materially than their 100 MB customers,” says BTIG....Ten Netflix videos running simultaneously wouldn’t even consume 4% of the capacity (1 gigabit) that Google Fiber provides its customers.
We've had times in our house when several people are using the Internet pretty heavily all at once. Sometimes we have three high-bandwidth apps going simultaneously including a movie, a video game and a soccer game. I don't recall having much of a problem even under these conditions and that's with download speeds on the order of 16 MB.

If I'm restoring a crashed hard drive, I have to download about 120GB from Mozy. Other than that once-every-two-years event, I can't think of anything that could even come close to taxing a 100 MB pipe.

What would I do with 1 GB speed? What in the world could I possibly consume that would take even 100 MB of throughput?


tim eisele said...

I don't know yet what people will do with all that bandwidth either, but I bet that within 10 years, people will be finding ways to fill all that capacity and more. Probably with something that we currently think of as silly and impractical.

K T Cat said...

I don't see it. 4K TV broadcasts maybe? Other than that, I'd argue there's a bandwidth limit going into your brain. At some point, you're getting all the information per second you can use and anything more is simply waste.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

Some sort of 3D interactive display, like a holodeck?

tom said...

When phone data service was a blazing 50kbps, I couldn't figure out why anybody would need 802.11 wifi to a handset. There was no way it could handle all that data.

So I have an open mind about the need for higher bandwidth to the home, even if I don't know the specific use cases yet.