backtop


Print 41 comment(s) - last by Jeffk464.. on May 10 at 9:55 AM


  (Source: rgbstock.com)
There are three main reasons for anxiety related to bandwidth caps: invisible balances, mysterious processes and multiple users

A new Georgia Tech/Microsoft study shows that bandwidth caps are putting unnecessary strain on users in South Africa.

Marshini Chetty, a Microsoft Research intern and postdoctoral researcher from Georgia Tech's School of Interactive Computing, conducted a study that shows negative user experiences associated with bandwidth caps. However, Chetty believes the pressure put on Internet users could be relieved with the right data usage monitoring tools.

The study, which is titled "'You're Capped!' Understanding the Effects of Bandwidth Caps on Broadband Use in the Home," was conducted in South Africa. Chetty met with 12 households in the country, where caps were universal until February 2010. South African Internet service providers (ISPs) generally range caps up to 9 GB of data monthly, but some plans are as low as only 1 GB of data, which is significantly lower than 150 GB - 250 GB caps in the U.S.

According to Chetty, there are three main reasons for anxiety related to bandwidth caps: invisible balances, mysterious processes and multiple users.

Invisible balances refer to households having to pay extra fees for small bandwidth cap increases. When this method wasn't ideal, some families would visit other family members to use the Internet, or just switch from desktop PCs to smartphones.

Mysterious processes mean the household's inability to identify which programs are consuming the most bandwidth. Videos and downloads eat up much more of the monthly cap then Web browsing, but not everyone is aware of this and can be cu off in the middle of their activity because the cap reached full capacity.

Some users would even skip software updates because it ate up too much of the monthly bandwidth cap.

"People's behavior does change when limits are placed on Internet access -- just like we've seen happen in the smartphone market -- and many complain about usage-based billing, but no one has really studied the effects it has on consumer activity," said Chetty. "We would also hear about people 'saving' bandwidth all month and then binge downloading toward the end of their billing period.

"We were surprised to learn that many of the households we studied chose not to perform regular software updates in order to manage their cap. This activity can be benign for some applications, inadvisable for others and downright dangerous in certain cases. For example, not installing security patches on your system can leave you vulnerable to viruses and other sorts of cyber attacks."

Multiple users in a household can also add to the strain of bandwidth caps because not all family members can monitor each other's data usage throughout the month. One may be consuming much more data than the other's, leaving the rest of the household unknowingly limited with Internet use.

Chetty has recognized that bandwidth caps can be problematic, and is urging ISPs to come up with better tools that allow households to monitor their data usage and also create better alternatives for when these caps are met. 

"As ISPs move toward usage-based pricing, we need to keep in mind the reactive behaviors that consumers adopt and the consequences of those behaviors," said Chetty. "Because when you have broadband caps, you will use the Internet differently.

"So if you're going to have caps, you should empathize with your users and offer ways for customers to see how their data are being used and who is using them."

There appears to be strain associated with mobile bandwidth as well. In January 2012, England-based mobile advisory company Arieso reported that the top 1 percent of heavy users are bandwidth hogs, accounting for half of the entire world's mobile traffic.

Source: Georgia Tech



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Meanwhile, outside the castle walls ...
By drycrust3 on 5/8/2012 6:11:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
South African Internet service providers (ISPs) generally range caps up to 9 GB of data monthly, but some plans are as low as only 1 GB of data, which is significantly lower than 150 GB - 250 GB caps in the U.S.

What Chetty's study overlooks is the cost of providing the internet, and especially the links to Europe and the USA. Obviously the cost to American or European ISPs to connect to the popular websites is minimal, but to connect from somewhere like South Africa would require the use of undersea cables, which are expensive. Thus, the cost to South African ISPs of connecting to the rest of the world is much higher than for a "rest of the world" ISP, and that cost will be passed on to their paying customers.
The Bizcommunity.com website said, in 2010, that the average monthly household income in South Africa is around 14000 rand, which equates to around $1772 per month or just over $21000 a year. While that is not excessively low on an international scale, it does mean that a 9GB cap is probably about as much as the average family could afford, and a 250 GB cap is just unrealistic for the majority of internet users.




By Trisped on 5/8/2012 8:05:23 PM , Rating: 3
The cost of laying the lines limits overall bandwidth. If everyone gets on at 9PM and tries to use their full bandwidth then the lines must be large enough to cover that cost. If everyone only gets on line the first Monday of each month at 9PM then the lines need to be able to provided the full bandwidth for all users at that time. What happens if everyone wants to watch the world soccer tournament on line at the same time?

While caps help lower usage, they do not accurately reflect the cost to the ISP and as such calming that the data caps are low due to cost is a stretch. The caps are low because that is what the ISP decided they would make the most money selling a service that looks good (higher bandwidths), but people are afraid to use (for fear of the cap).


By Dr of crap on 5/9/2012 8:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
The COST of providing the service has nothing to do with restricting bandwidth. Unless there isn't enough physical lines to support the number of users bandwidth, then we have a problem.

If it costs the ISP to much to provide service has no bearing on bandwidth to each person, it would just mean that they would have to charge more per month to provide the service, or add a service charge to cover the install cost. Charging extra for bandwidth or capping isn't the way to go to cover installtion costs.


By wallijonn on 5/9/2012 12:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
to connect from somewhere like South Africa would require the use of undersea cables


Satellites and dishes. If they have electricity they can have access to communications satellites with the proper equipment. From that main hub (usually located in a large city) they could then lay down wires to homes.

Do you really think that the cable companies are wired through land lines? Nope, they have satellite farms, rows and rows of dishes which pick up TV broadcasts and Internet from around the world.


"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki