Broadband Caps and Congestion: Facts and Fiction






The data hogs are the reason the network providers must install data caps to protect the experience for all users. Hang on now.. Here we are talking about data congestion.. Internet providers as with highway managers build out their systems for peak usage, which for the internet usage is the TV prime time viewing hours of 7PM-11PM Monday through Friday. The same goes for our highway system.. it is peaks  between 6-9AM and 4-6PM.  This is the aim of the builders of the systems.. At 4am you might be the only one on a stretch of the highway.. same goes with internet usage.


Perhaps changing the system as we’ve done with our toll highways and electrical billing.. you pay more during high demand hours and less during the off peak hours.  You want your Netflix movie on demand at 7PM you pay more than if you scheduled it to download for you at 4AM in the morning.


On the non toll highways you don’t pay more for increased usage of your private car, you can drive just to the neighborhood convenience store or clear across country and not pay more.  No, Usage Based Billing here.. no meter on your odometer.  In fact, the more miles you drive the more gas you use ergo the more you contribute in taxes to support the building of roads that are designed to help alleviate peak usage slow downs.

In Canada the major ISP’s fought and got UBB just as Netflix entered the Canadian consumer space.. Watch HD movies each evening and  in 1 week you are at your cap.. no wonder the public screamed with outrage..

The fact of the matter is that heavy users are the most profitable for the ISP’s

Yes. Because overall congestion, not individual consumption, is the single driver of network costs. It’s not the “how much” but the “when” that really matters.

No one wants a global Internet riddled with traffic jams. Not users and certainly not video-on-demand services, cloud companies, MMO games, or any other services requiring bandwidth. The fact that these services require more bandwidth has been a boon for ISPs. They drove consumer demand for broadband, which is much more lucrative than dial-up Internet. Therefore, we all have a stake in ensuring a healthy Internet.

But if not data caps, then what?

Our data indicates the solution is twofold: High-bandwidth services need to be good citizens and peak usage needs to be brought under control.

BitTorrent yields to Priority Traffic

Since any data traffic that doesn’t induce congestion on a fixed cost network is essentially free; applications can voluntarily play a role in traffic prioritization. And since BitTorrent is a high percentage of global Internet traffic, we have a responsibility to be a part of the solution.

This was the primary motivator around our release of a new protocol a year ago, called µTP. The protocol essentially senses congestion and self-regulates to avoid contributing to Internet traffic jams.

Because µTP can never induce network congestion, it doesn’t contribute to an ISP’s cost. An ISP still has regular network maintenance expenses, but remember, with a fixed-cost network, traffic only becomes an economic burden if it contributes to congestion and forces the need for expansion.

Voluntary good citizenry on behalf of the industry is a start, but it’s not a complete solution to congestion.