In a previous article we made the following statement:
“ISPs are now promising 100 megabit per second consumer service, and are betting on the fact that most consumers will only use a fraction of that at any given time. In other words, they have oversold their capacity without backlash. In the unlikely event that all their customers tried to pull their max bandwidth at one time, there would be extreme gridlock, but the probability of this happening is almost zero. “
So I ask the question, what would it take to make full use of your 100 megabit pipe?
A typical streamed movie consumes about 4 megabits. You would need to watch 25 Netflix movies at once all day every day to fully utilize your pipe. Obviously watching 25 movies at once all day every day is not very practical, you would need multiple Netflix Accounts and 25 devices to watch them on.
Big files: A 100 Gigabyte file, that’s a good size download for a consumer right? Well, that would take approximately 4 minutes to download on a 100 megabit pipe, and then you’d have to find another one.
For convenience maybe you could find a 1,000 Gigabyte file? That would take only 40 minutes, so you are still kind of left with a good deal of spare pipe for most of the day. How about a 10,000 Gigabyte file (10 Terabytes)? That would take 400 minutes. By my calculations, in order to make use of your 100 megabit pipe completely for 24 hours, you would need to download a 40 Terabyte file!
Where could you find such a file?
I did some poking around and there are a couple of sites that have gigantic files for no particular reason, but the only practical file with a reason to download was this one:
“Some time ago I was interested in creating custom maps of the Earth, and I realized that the data files needed for this are pretty large; and the more zoom you want, the larger are the data files.
OpenStreetMap has a huge file of the Earth which is 82GB compressed and around 1TB uncompressed according to the OSM wiki, and it will become larger. You can find it updated here.”
So this very large file that maps the entire earth is 82 Gig in compressed form for download, a tiny fraction of the full 40 terabytes you would need to download in one day to fill up your pipe.
What is the moral of the story?
Internet providers can safely offer 100 megabit pipes, full well knowing that even their heaviest users are likely not going to average more than 5 megabits sustained over a long time period. You would actually have to be maliciously downloading ridiculously sized files all day every day to use your full pipe.