Monday, April 28, 2008

Pareto and bandwidth

According to Om's article about P2P and Broadband Usage, Arbor Networks data shows that Pareto's Principle works:

On fixed and mobile broadband networks where consumer services are provided (i.e., NOT interprovider or typical dedicated Internet access for commercial enterprises):

  • 10% of subscribers consume 80% of bandwidth.
  • 0.5% of subscribers consume about 40% of total bandwidth.
  • 80% of subscribers use less than 10% of bandwidth

How to deal with the 20% is the problem ISP's face. Comcast throttles P2P, which is about 20% of the traffic. Video is another big chunk. Caching can help a little. And no one wants FCC mandated network management rules. So what would be the answer?

The commentors across the web expect the bandwidth that is purchased. Apparently, none of them have designed, built or managed a network. Every network - even your home LAN - has a finite bandwidth. (Think about your own inside wiring in the house - for many it is so poor that it cannot carry the 100MB or the 1GB throughput that many homeowners want). Even HPNA taps out at around 50MB. There are bottlenecks in every network. Remember the busy signals when AOL stopped billing by the hour? The network wasn't built for that kind of usage. Just as the Internet is not really designed to carry real-time traffic such as voice and streaming video.

One management suggestion is to fire the 20%. No rule says you have to supply them with basically a dedicated line. (I would suggest adding that to any TOS and AUP you offer, just to spell out what exactly the service you provide is). Some ISP's have turned back to metering. This may be an answer, but it's like the cell phone owner who gets the crazy bill one month. In the old days, if you called international, you would get a huge charge from your LD carrier (at&t, mci or sprint) - and call them yelling. It would happen when the grandkids visit or they try to download a movie that takes 5 tries and ends up eating up 20GB. There's no one answer, except that the FCC should mandate. Use the FTC to enforce Truth in Advertising.

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