broadband End User

What Type of Traffic Uses Up Broadband Bandwidth?

It is interesting to see the mix of traffic on the Timico ADSL network and thus what is taking up the broadband bandwidth usage. As a B2B ISP the profile will be dramatically different to that of a consumer provider.

For example the amount of bit torrent traffic is fairly low at around 6%. This compares with up to 40% sometimes seen on residential ADSLs. There are legitimate business uses of P2P but it does suggest that a few customers are hitting it hard. The nature of P2P is that it will hog all available bandwidth which actually makes it a highly efficient protocol for transferring large amounts of data. In fact the 6% of P2P traffic on the Timico could well be largely down to half a dozen ADSL2+ customers hitting it hard which represents a tiny proportion of our customer base.

The usual business type applications such as email and VPN are apparent on the chart but the biggest driver is clearly simple web browsing. No great messages here regarding bandwidth growth.

There are however some hidden gotchas. This chart was a snapshot over one working day sometime recently. It does not, for example cover the Ashes cricket matches where video streaming saw a huge growth as people at work tuned in on Skyplayer. How many business managers knew that their staff were watching the TV all day instead of working?  It is costing them twice – in the salaried time spent watching the cricket and in the cost of the bandwidth.

Also it is daytime usage and does not cover night time where a significant amount of file transfer traffic takes place. We do see a small rise in P2P in the evenings –  Timico provides thousands of corporate homeworker ADSLs. However the overall bandwidth falls significantly for us after 5 o’clock which is the exact opposite to what is seen in the consumer world. It will be interesting to periodically track the changes in usage and look at where the trend takes us over time.


Apps Business storage backup & dr

Bandwidth Bandit – Offsite Backup Case Study

One of the big drivers for bandwidth usage is offsite back up and storage.

The amount of backup and storage capacity required by a business is to a large extent dependant on the nature of that business. An organisation which regularly processes a large amount of financial transaction or billing data is going to need a lot more than somewhere whose main concern is the safekeeping of CRM data and perhaps the security of information on individual PCs. Moreover as a rule of thumb the larger the amount of data that needs backing up on a daily basis the more critical that data is likely to be for a business.

One of Timico’s customers performs a 50GB daily backup to tape. The tape is removed from the premises every night to an offsite storage location. This is far from ideal. The company until recently operated over a bonded ADSL connection which gave them approximately 2Mbps uplink.

Backing up 50GB over the 2Mb connection was going to take 555 hours. This was not a practical proposition. The company has just put in a 100Mb leased line. The time taken to perform the backup would now be 11 hours which makes an overnight run a real proposition.

Not everyone has a 50GB requirement but as faster broadband technologies come along at cost effective prices more and more people will use an offsite on-net backup facility which will in turn drive bandwidth usage.


The chart is self explanatory. I’ve made some assumptions regarding packet overhead on the pipes


Apps Business internet media

Bandwidth bandit CCTV

One of the applications rolled out as standard when people are trying to promote the use of faster broadband is Closed Circuit TV. I’ve always treated this with some contempt as a poor contribution by some unimaginative marketeer somewhere desperate to think of reasons why someone should upgrade their connection.

In the interests of pursuing the theme of bandwidth bandits I was however prompted to look into CCTV as a subject. I am amazed the progress in this space. 

Timico uses a product called X-Protect.  Cameras plug directly into the LAN and are powered by Power over Ethernet.  The product supports a number of codecs including H264 and MPEG-4 and you can select the quality of your stream based on how much bandwidth you have.

As an ISP with a high bandwidth Gigabit fibre based WAN Timico has plenty of bandwidth and our cameras stream at an aggregated 10Mbps to the recording server.  Timico IT staff can view these streams from anywhere in the network, including from home and including on the move with their PDAs.  The bandwidth used for viewing from outside the network does not of course have to be the same as on the LAN/WAN.

What this does show though is an application that is promoting high bandwidth usage.  Manufacturer Milestone Systems states a recording capacity of 960GB per day per server.  A quick back of a beer mat calculation suggests this would need a total of around 90Mbps streaming to support this capacity.

The only way is up for bandwidth usage.

Business internet

Bandwidth Bandits

Internet bandwidth use is continually on the up and is further stimulated each time we roll out faster broadband services.

As the UK ISP community lines itself up to offer 40Mbps broadband based on BT’s Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) proposition it is worth looking at what services and applications businesses are going to use that will take advantage of the increased speeds.

I’m going to start a Bandwidth Bandit thread on A Bandwidth Bandit is an application that uses lots of bandwidth. Deleted in the great category cull of February 2014 🙂

So what do I hear you ask? The point is that it is easy to look at the consumer world and see how someone sitting at home watching online TV might benefit from the access speeds supported by FTTC. Full screen, HD for example. However this isn’t going to turn on a business.

The owner of a business is more likely to say “I don’t want to promote TV watching on my company’s internet connection because it will distract staff from their job”.

Every time I look at the drivers for faster internet access the industry has always come up with the same story – better file transfers and better quality video. Now the use of video has still not really taken off in business, other than the occasional educational stream coming from someone’s website.

So I want to take a look at the bandwidth needs of different applications and see whether faster broadband is really going to facilitate a change in the way businesses work. I guess the biggest enabler is quite likely to be faster uplink. FTTC will in theory support “up to” 5Mbps.

Posts are going to appear on this subject from time to time over the next few weeks. In the meantime if anyone wants to contribute or point me towards material that is likely to add value here please feel free to do so.

As a footnote a business typically uses twice as much bandwidth per broadband connection that a consumer despite the impression one might get from some areas of industry that all consumers do is sit on their broadband connections downloading music and video. Apart from the fact that the business ADSL is more likely to have more people sat behind it using accessing the internet it must also mean that there are an increasing number of applications out there wanting the bandwidth.