Bandwidth - the Baseline

September is now over, so I now have my baseline for monitoring my bandwidth, to see how I fare against the bandwidth cap. Total data used for the month of September: 22.36GB down, 5.44GB up, 27.80GB total.

September was a bit of an odd month, though. For about a week and a half, I was without an Xbox 360; and for almost the whole month, my wife was using my laptop while we tried to get hers repaired (the wireless network card was fried). However, even with those odd variables, there are some worthwhile data points.

First off, there is only one day in the entire month of September that shows a total over 2GB (2.24GB used on 1 Sep) — every other day is under 2GB, and only 5 days total are over a gig and a half, with an additional 7 days between the 1G and 1.5GB marks.

There is a definite dip in usage around the time my 360 died, so its effects are noticeable. There's also a spike on the 13th that would represent when I got my new 360 and proceeded to play the heck out of it all day. Another sweep up starts on the 23th, which could represent when I and three others decided to make a speed run at a Halo campaign level for a competition that Friday night (we practiced every night that week). The extra boost starting on the 25th may come from my wife finally getting her laptop back from HP and having to download updates and reinstall software.

Even with the up-ticks, there's still not a lot of bandwidth being used. If you take the heaviest of the days that should represent things getting "back to normal", the 25th, and multiplied that by the entire month, it's only 50GB, or about a fifth of the cap.

But how could that change? If I wanted to ditch the $40+/month "digital voice" service from Comcast and shop around for other VOIP options, I'd be looking at an increase in usage just for using my phone. If I wanted to take advantage of the upcoming Netflix integration with the Xbox 360, that would cause a huge increase in bandwidth, depending on how many movies I tried to watch. For that matter, the "New Xbox Experience" is creating a new paradigm for interacting with friends (i.e. they're ripping off "Miis"); will this have an impact on how much bandwidth is used just sitting in the dashboard, while my friends' avatars are displayed on my console?

I think I've come to the conclusion that it's safe not to worry yet, but it still makes me nervous about trying new and potentially high-bandwidth-eating applications or services. And I still think that's just the way Comcast likes it.

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