Web Bandwidth: Net Neutrality Is One Thing, BUT We Need To Address Wonton Bandwidth WASTE Because It Is ‘Free’.

Anura Guruge December 2014 thumbnail
by Anura Guruge

Related Posts:
Net Neutrality still leaves inequality — Nov. 11, 2014.
Net Neutrality should be Obama’s legacy — Jan. 17, 2014.
>> Net Neutrality is dead – Jan. 15, 2014.


While I appreciate that it is basically un-American I do favor Net Neutrality.

But something that has always bothered me about the whole ‘Free Utility’ model of the Internet is the wanton WASTE of bandwidth — with many not even realizing that they are wasting bandwidth and that there IS ALWAYS a cost to bandwidth THAT IS USED and that it takes REAL ENERGY (i.e., electricity) to send/receive bits.

Today somebody sent me a 9MB video file. It was a fun video. But it took me 10 seconds to find it on YouTube. So rather than sending me a 9MB file, 72 million bits, they could have just sent me the YouTube link which would have taken about 100 bytes (i.e., characters), 800 bits. Big difference between sending 800 bits, across the World, to 72 million bits.

When I told him off for wasting ENERGY, this guy, an engineer to boot, claimed that using bandwidth was not the same as wasting energy. Sacre bloody bleu! Why do people believe that bandwidth is FREE. Of course sending bits, whether over copper or fiber, requires energy. Chipsets use more energy when they are working than when they are idling. Plus sending/receiving data generates HEAT — which in the case of computer and networking equipment means spending more energy to cool the equipment!

I have no problem with people using bandwidth. I do, with gusto. But I am acutely aware of the bandwidth I use and try very hard not to use it. Yes, some of you will quite rightly point out that I am ‘wasting’ bandwidth with my LAVISH use of graphics. But a big part of this blog and I is the color. The graphics are very much a part of the tone of this blog. But I try not to waste bandwidth outside of the graphics. I rarely send files to people — especially if I am sending the same file (say a photograph) to multiple people. Instead I upload the file and send a link. Much less bandwidth. Considerably less. If I am dealing with video files I immediately upload it to YouTube. Now I have a link.

I have always argued that people will be much more responsible about bandwidth usage IF they had to pay for it — like we do for electricity or cell minutes. And now that people can talk for FREE over the Internet, VoIP, we get even more waste. It is like heated driveways. I have no problem with consumption. I am into conspicuous consumption. It is just the waste.

Small things. And this one I have been urging upon people for 20 years. E-mail. Something very simple. When REPLYING to an e-mail DELETE some if NOT ALL of the texts that was there to begin with. Keep the subject line and maybe if you have to … a few lines from the original. Don’t send back all the text you received. Think of the bit you are sending back. That is all wasted bandwidth.

Bandwidth usage causes congestion. Bandwidth usage consumes energy. Bandwidth usage generates heat. If that bandwidth usage is for naught you have caused congestion, used up energy and generated heat. That is it.

One last thing. You do KNOW that using your car radio decreases your milage, i.e., mpg, right? It is miniscule BUT a radio requires energy. That energy comes from the alternator. It is not much, but it is not free. You burn a tad more gas when the radio is on. You may never see it in terms of MPG but you can’t deny the physics. I once wrote a White Paper for IBM where I used this car radio example — in the context that everything you do on a CPU has a cost, even if that cost maybe as insignificant as the amount of gas required to power a car radio. But you always have to look at the big picture. If the radios (and other electronics) were turned off in ALL the cars, all over the world, we would see a drop in petrol usage. Physics doesn’t lie.

1 thought on “Web Bandwidth: Net Neutrality Is One Thing, BUT We Need To Address Wonton Bandwidth WASTE Because It Is ‘Free’.

  1. janelleyjames

    My goodness, all this…I had no idea. I will keep this useful knowledge in mind when I email and when I am driving. I use my mp3 player anyway mostly. On occasion I will listen to the radio. The radio can be very disappointing to me. In an hour the stations, on average play 1-3 songs within an hour that I like. That’s nearly 40 minutes per hour of my listening time that was wasted. Music isn’t the same these days. Tastes have changed to an unlikable experience. Not happy about it. I stick to my old favorites which I am also getting tired of hearing at times. I need something new, something good. Anyway, thanks for this article. It was excellent.


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