HDD Killers

Fair Use Policy

Posted on Monday 23 April 2007

That’s what it’s called when an ISP puts a cap on your bandwidth, but doesn’t tell you what it is.

In fact they go so far as to tell you that you have unlimited bandwidth, which wouldn’t even be true if they didn’t put a cap on it, unless you had an infinitely fast connection. So anyway, a typical connection in the UK at the moment is 8 Mbps down, 0.5 Mbps up, making 8.5 Mbps total. That’s a pretty nippy connection and it would be possible to use up about 85.5 GiB in bandwidth per day. And wow, 2.5 TiB per month. Holy crap, how do ISP’s manage to shift all that data from everyone around?

Well here’s the simple answer, they don’t. That’s a maximum figure for a typical connection, 99% of people don’t even use more than a few gigabytes per month, 5 GB of bandwidth used would be 0.2% of the maximum possible value. OK, so what about the other 1% of people? Well that would be people like me then. I don’t really download much to be honest, a few eps of various TV series each week when they air in America, but nothing major, in total they come to 3.3 GiB. I also seed the Grey’s Anatomy torrent, I can upload about 1 full copy in a week, and it currently weighs in at 20.6 GiB. So that’s just short of 24 GB per week. Adjust that for a 30 day month and we get about 103 GiB.

Now that’s quite a lot of data, but remember it’s spread over 30 days. On average it’s 3.43 GiB per day, which equates to 341 Kbps, or to put it another way 4% of an 8/0.5 connection. So you see, even people who use their connections quite a lot, aren’t really using their connections a lot at all. I’m sure there’s a very small group of people out there who do download and upload as fast as their connections allow, but there can’t be many of them, it’s surprisingly difficult to max out your connection 24/7.

So you can imagine my surprise earlier when I noticed that my download speed never really got much above 30 KiB/s. This is on BT Business Broadband, which doesn’t have a bandwidth cap and doesn’t have a FUP. So I decided to check the BT site to make sure. Very bad form BT, it turns out they’d sneaked a FUP in under the RADAR. But even so, I don’t see why I should be restricted when I only use such a small amount of bandwidth. BT has this to say.

If you regularly use the service inappropriately during peak hours, and we believe this is unfairly affecting other customers’ use of the service, we’ll manage your bandwidth during peak times (which could result in reduced service speeds).

OK, so let me get this straight, I have an 8/0.5 connection, I use 4% (that’s 1/25) of the bandwidth that I am PAYING for, and somehow I’m the one being unfair? I also find it interesting to note that even though the router connects at 7616 Kbps down, I never at any time get more than 2 Mbps down, it’s never been a problem, it’s just something that BT seem quite content with not to fix.

This is freaking BT we’re talking about here, my local exchange is probably hooked up to BT’s central Ubertron 5000 server with a gigabit fibre connection, I really don’t think it’s asking too much to be able to use 4% of MY bandwidth without being punished by having a crippled connection for 30 hours / week.

Add on top of that that I’m not just connected to BT Broadband, but to BT Business Broadband. It costs more than your regular run of the mill broadband, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why. What is more outraging is the fact that BT Total Broadband Option 3 (which is for home users), appears to have no FUP or bandwidth limit.

Sadly it seems that all ISP’s are moving towards an FUP now, or failing that, a pathetic bandwidth cap. I’ll just have to try and arrange my sleep schedule so that I slumber through the “peak hours”.

    Monday 23rd April 2007 | 10:07 pm
    Antony's Globally Recognised Avatar

    That really sucks, FUP’s a really one of the worst things to happen to the internet, because it gives ISP’s total control over restricting the internet use of people – because they are the ones that get to decide exactly what’s “Fair” and what’s not.

    Paul Jr
    Tuesday 24th April 2007 | 1:33 am
    Paul Jr's Globally Recognised Avatar

    Gay sauce.

    Ben Rogers
    Tuesday 24th April 2007 | 2:59 am
    Ben Rogers's Globally Recognised Avatar

    You’ve spoken with them about this, right? If you’re paying them, they might work with you. Might.

    Anyhow, I recall specifically asking if my connection had a bandwidth cap…I got a “no”, but…not I feel the need to check up on that.

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