2010 Bandwidth

I haven't been posting monthly bandwidth numbers, mostly to distract from the fact that the majority of my posts lately were the monthly bandwidth numbers, and that's just boring. But I haven't stopped keeping track.

2010 proved out what I expected. Since we got rid of paid TV, we have been relying on Netflix for the majority of our video entertainment. The use of this has increased over the year, as we've not only become more comfortable using the service, but the number of offerings of the service has increased as well. Add to this the fact that more videos are available in HD, and it's no wonder that my monthly data usage has only been going up.

There are also other items that account for the increase. A large number of file transfers to support our website design business accounts for some of this. Also, we bought a Blu-ray player that has the capability to stream YouTube videos, of which the kids have taken advantage as a substitute for more traditional Saturday morning cartoons.

The year-over-year view is rather dramatic:

The largest-use month in 2009 was surpassed by 75% of the months in 2010, and the second-highest month of 2009 was exceeded by all of them. Comcast's measurement was consistently lower than mine, although they were only 8% off in December. It was November when, finally, we reached the halfway point of a monthly cap.

The numbers are likely to only go further up. I don't see any change in this trend. Content providers are continuing to innovate and use the bandwidth we have. Netflix's increase in HD offerings is one example. Microsoft recently updated the Xbox to use a higher quality encoding for voice communication, which, although only provides a modest increase in bandwidth, is just another example.

All this still leaves me wondering, when will general use and content innovation use up this arbitrary data cap, and turn the number of "excessive" users from what was once claimed to be "a single percent" into the majority? I also wonder if Comcast's policy of punishing those who go over their monthly number will change before or after that happens — or, more cynically, how much revenue they'll collect from fines before they consider changing their policy.

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