broadband Engineer

Evidence that video is driving home internet use

Home broadband usage driven by TV streaming

Evidence is emerging of what applications are driving home broadband usage at the Davies house.

broadband usage wife at workThe two graphs presented herein for your entertainment and delight are of the broadband traffic over our Timico 80/20 FTTC line at home over the last two days – Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first graph shows very little happening during the day. As it happens my wife Anne was at work – she is a supply teacher. There isn’t that much going on in the evening either really although were were hitting 10Mbps at 10.30 pm.

DSL usage wife homeThe second graph shows the traffic when Anne was at home during the day. What a difference!

Most of the bursts are running at around 1.2Mbps and lasting between 30 minutes and two hours.

Now I happen to know that Anne, who always keeps herself busy, often has cookery programmes on during the day in the kitchen. There is so much to catch up on – Master Chef, Great British Bakeoff etc etc. She plays them on her iPad.

The bursts of traffic look very much as if they represent this kind of TV programme watching. Also interesting is the bandwidth required. It isn’t very much although I’m not sure what codecs were being used by iPlayer.

The other usage must basically represent everything else though the spike at 10.30 looks like a download – I know not what. All this just goes to show what this tinterweb thing is being used for. This is in no way an accusation that Anne sit around all day doing nothing – if you knew her you would know she is a very active person. I would however say that she was very representative of the average consumer even if I am not.

You can check out our home broadband data usage trend here.

Ciao bebe…

broadband Business

Does FTTP on Demand compete with Ethernet fibre connectivity?

FTTP on demand – will customers go for it?

Yesterday was at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton to give a talk on connectivity to a community of businessmen and IT types. Hampshire is, like many counties, very rural and there was a degree of complaining from the audience regarding the availability of decent connectivity.

Although the BDUK funded Next Generation Access project is rolling out to supposedly cover 90% of the country that still leaves a lot of people without access, or at least with the pitiful 2Mbs that the government it its wisdom has decided is good enough for the last 10%.

One chap mentioned that he had 20 rural sites that needed connecting. My answer to him was Fibre To The Premises on Demand which is currently being trialled by BT. FTTP on Demand has a fibre connection from the cabinet to your premises. The comparison is with Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) which has a copper cable between you and the cabinet. FTTP therefore, in principle offers the prospect of much faster throughputs than FTTC. Initially FTTP on Demand should provide 330Mbps down and 30Mbps up, once you’ve paid for the connection. The connection charge will almost certainly not be the few tens of pounds you might fork out for a new phone line. It’s more likely to be in the low thousands of pounds.

Notwithstanding that there is a fair chance that FTTP would do the job for many rural areas. This then prompted me to compare an FTTP solution with a standard Ethernet fibre connection.

What is the difference between FTTP and a fibre Ethernet connection?

FTTP whilst being fibre all the way to your premises runs over the BT 21CN Wholesale Broadband Connect (WBC) network. This is the backbone network that carries most BT broadband traffic. Because BT has a near monopoly the pricing for this is regulated “to ensure a level playing field” but is fairly expensive (regulated price is £48 per Mbps). To make broadband services economic to provide an ISP will rent a certain amount of bandwidth over WBC and use it to service multiple customers. It is therefore a shared network.

In reality this works very well, most of the time. Although FTTP isn’t a production product yet the mechanics are similar to Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC). A network with say 40Mbps amount of capacity to carry FTTC traffic will be able to serve multiple 40Mbps FTTC lines because they won’t all be using it at the same time. Ok if everyone was online downloading torrents at the same time that is likely to cause problems but by and large that doesn’t happen and ISPs have their own ways of dealing with the situation.

ISPs productise this type of connection and normally limit the data transfer bandwidth in a bundle of Gigabytes. They do this because a given sized backhaul connection will be able to handle a certain number of bytes in a given time period. This usage capacity is usually determined for a window at the busiest time of day.

Some ISPs offer “unlimited” packages. BT is one. BT offer an unlimited data bundle for their 80/20 FTTC product (they quote something like “up to 76Mbs down and 17Mbps up”)  for £61 plus vat including calls and line rental (plus another fiver for a static IP). The Timico equivalent is £60 for the same product with 500GB a month of data. The Timico version might not sound as good as BT’s but the reality is that very few people ever come close to 500GB in a month. My “best” ever month was 250GB last December and I am a very heavy user. Also if average usage grew to levels unacceptable to BT you can bet your bottom dollar that they would either increase their pricing or stick in a limit.

There is a point to this bit of the discussion which I will come back to later.

Ethernet, as opposed to FTTC is a different product altogether. It is still fibre to the premises but relies on an unregulated backhaul network that very much has competition. The cost of the backhaul on Ethernet is anything up to ten times lower than that of FTTP (that’s what a bit of competition can do). Also Ethernet provides symmetrical uncontended connectivity. Ie it is the same speed up and down and you don’t share the connection with anyone else (though you can buy contended Ethernet which will be slightly cheaper).

Although the backhaul bandwidth is cheaper for Ethernet the fact that you are paying for it all means it is more expensive than FTTx (P or C). The flipside is that you can shift an awful lot more data in the month. A 100Mbps Ethernet connection should let you transfer 32Terabytes a month – massively more than the 500GB bundle I quoted earlier for FTTC. Also remember that Ethernet is symmetric – a 100Mbps connection is 100Mbps in each direction, whereas FTTP is 330 Mbps down and 30Mbps up.

Although there isn’t an official line on this it seems clear to me that BT has set the asymmetric levels for two reasons. Firstly so that they can boast a 330Mbps product in their commercial battles with Virgin Media’s cable service and secondly so that the product doesn’t clash with Ethernet.

A business buying Ethernet will be doing so for a number of reasons including reliability, Service Level Agreement and latency but also because they need faster upload than FTTX provides.

A 100Mbps Ethernet service retails at around £750 plus VAT. A business using the 80:20 FTTC service (in the absence of FTTP it’s the nearest one I have a price  for at the moment) and based on £60 for 500GB (we have to assume some kind of benchmark for this calc as I don’t think it is realistic to assume unlimited bandwidth for £60 – as I say the price would go up if people started hammering it) a company would have to be using around 6Terabytes of data a month to justify the move to Ethernet, unless they needed the symmetrical performance (and the other benefits). They might also want a lower latency product which Ethernet provides. If my memory serves me right the round trip time between a site using Fast Ethernet and docklands will be a fifth or lower than that of FTTX.  That’s less than 10milliseconds compared with 40 to 50 milliseconds. Ethernet could be even faster depending on location.

It is easy to envisage a chart that plots  where the cost of FTTX will intercept that of fibre Ethernet based on the growth in usage. FTTX bandwidth costs may well come down but it will also do so for Ethernet. I don’t know when the lines will cross but they will do so and that point will tell us when the country will move entirely to a fibre based network.

My forecasts for my own personal data storage needs suggest I will be adding nearly 2TB a year in storage by 2020. Unless I start consuming a lot of Ultra high definition video it suggests to me that it’s going to be a very long time before I need to upgrade to a symmetrical Ethernet service. A 30Mbp uplink as provided by the current FTTP capability would let me upload 10Terabytes in a month (all these numbers are approximate) which my calcs suggest is more than enough for my forseeable needs. Even my 80:20 line which only gives me 35:7 due to the distance to the cabinet will be good enough until at least 2020.

There are other factors which will drive the world towards fibre (as opposed to FTTC). The cost of running the network will be one – fibre has a much lower operating cost once it is in place as it is more reliable. The speed of adoption of download bandwidth heavy services such as streaming Ultra HD video is another.

I didn’t really know where I was going when I started this post. I am a big fan of rolling out FTTP. It is the most sensible long term proposition. It certainly still make sense in the near term for areas of the country that can’t get FTTC. That’s 10% of the population at least.

I’m going to leave it at that. I’ve rambled on long enough.

Ciao baby.

broadband Business

Home Broadband Data Usage Growth

Every now and again I dip into our network  management portal for a skeet and today came across my home broadband usage data. It makes for quite interesting reading. Christmas showed a whopping 250GB of data usage which was a bit of a local maximum (to coin an old ALevel mathematics phrase). We had a house full of offspring home from University with time on their hands.

The trend is clear. As I recall I had the FTTC line installed in the July August time frame which may account for the data starting to shoot up a bit more round that time.

That’s all. Graph below:

FTTC home data usage Davies house

Apps broadband End User social networking

Home broadband data usage growth

home broadband data usage trends for Trefor Davies

Broadband data usage growth driven by photo uploads

I’m installing a RaspberryPi computer at home carrying an IPCortex PBX with SIP trunks. I just needed to find a free IP address and found myself checking out available addresses so that I could provide a static one to the IPCortex.

I just happened to find myself looking at my home broadband data usage and came up with some interesting stats.

The first chart plots the growth in my overallgrowth in upload data usage for home broadband - Trefor Davies usage for the last four years. It actually shows almost an order of magnitude (20GB to 160GB) growth from the lowest point in 2008 to the highest point this year.

I realise this is not scientific but you can easily see the trend. The rise in upload usage in the May/June time frame (2nd chart) this year coincides with my taking proud possession of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the fact that all photos now get backed up to Google+. Trefor Davies photo storage requirements ytd 2012

The final chart shows the growth in photo storage needs this year and you can see a very good correlation between photo storage and the growth in bandwidth upload usage.

The numbers don’t exactly match because we use the home broadband connection for other applications and I, being both gregarious and fertile, do not live alone.

I haven’t drilled into specifics but a reasonable chunk of the photo storage space is now used for video. I do both a daily (ish) video diary for the kids and take lots of “generally interesting” videos. Check this one out from the weekend visit to the Beamish Open Air Museum in county Durham.


End User mobile connectivity phones

Monthly mobile data usage August using Samsung Galaxy S3

August mobile data usage using Samsung Galaxy S3It’s been a busy month on the mobile internet usage, what with the Olympics and being on holiday. So far this month, and it is pretty much over, I have consumed just shy of 20GB of internet bandwidth using my Samsung Galaxy S3. That’s 2.40GB of 3G/mobile data and 17.13GB using WiFi.

My hard drive tells me I have taken 9.38GB of photos and videos and I’m sure there are a few sound files on top of that though they won’t contribute much towards the total.

The first screenshot shows the applications that were the heaviest mobile data users.

Note that Gallery is the number one user by far. I like the way that Android pulls down albums from my online Google+ store but clearly there is a price to pay for this with the data usage.

At number two Tweetdeck comes as no surprise and I’m thinking OS Services must mean operating system upgrades and / or general system management though I’m not totally sure about this. I’d normally save any major OS upgrades for WiFi.

During the month I did a lot of speed testing which shows up in the stats as that app came in fourth.August WiFi data usage from Samsung Galaxy S3

Straight internet access/web browsing was only the 6th most popular activity! In total 56 apps used the mobile data connection to some extent in August!

The next screenshot is of the WiFi usage from the phone.

Obviously it was used a lot more when in range of WiFi.

You can see that the amount of photographs taken is reflected in the usage of Google+.

I also took advantage whenever I had good WiFi, as I did in a number of places around London, to upload videos to YouTube. This way I could easily embed a video in a blog post at a later date whilst on the hoof.

In all 55 apps used the wifi connection in August.

The next screenshot is somewhat revealing and in some respects tells me I need to get a life.

I spent nearly 26 hours in the month using Tweetdeck wtf?! That’s almost an hour a day.

time spent using data connectivity in August

16 and a half hours using chrome. Interesting to note that the times spent on specific applications haven’t resulted in those apps beign the heaviest users of mobile data. Shows how light Twitter traffic in particular is.

Then it was nearly 14 hours using TouchWiz which is the Samsung user interface. All that time spent prodding the phone. I’ don’t know how much time is allocated per prod but this seems to be a lot.

Maps I can understand – that four hours is probably a couple of car journeys.

I’m not sure I know what to do with all this information but it is certainly food for thought.

You can see from the pics that the app I used to gather all this data is My Data Manager. It’s great. Go get it and let me know about your own usage.

broadband Engineer

Monthly ADSL Usage Trend and Prediction for 2015

monthly adsl usage is on the increaseIt might interest you to see my monthly ADSL usage over themonthly adsl usage trend at the Davies house last four years or so, reported in GigaBytes per month. There is a very clear upward trend – over 500% growth from the low point in April 09 to Jan 12.

There would have been a technology upgrade from ADSLMax to ADSL2+ – quite possibly around mid 09 which would explain the jump but I can’t remember exactly.

The average household usage is around 17GB a month so us Davies’ are clearly heavy users. Our oldest, Tom went to University in October 2010 but this doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. In fact there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why one month his heavier than another. it’s just the general trend that tells us that I should expect to be using 150GB a month by sometime in 2015.

My broadband connection by 2015 is likely to be at least 100Mbps so I will have bandwidth available that would sustain large amount of data transfer. I suspect that reality will be higher than this. We as a family will begin to use even more services so I am going to predict 200GigaBytes a month. I’d also like to bet that my mobile data usage will be in the tens of GigaBytes compared with the very low single digit GigaBytes at the moment.

Any insights happily discussed.