Internet usage allowances and keeping the data traffic flowing

Internet usage allowances and keeping the data traffic flowing

InternetUsageMaking sure we continue to provide the best experience for our Internet customers is extremely important to us. We spend a lot of time analyzing the amount of Internet traffic passing across our network. The information we collect is primarily used to make decisions about infrastructure investments. Each year we spend several million dollars to ensure we maintain the Internet service our customers expect.

I joined BendBroadband back in August 2010, and one of my first projects was determine if our Internet packages meet the needs of our customers. On average, I found, each customer was consuming 18GB of data every month.

Consumption comprises both the amount of data a customer downloads from the Internet and the amount the customer sends the other way. We could see that the rate of consumption was growing steadily by 5 percent each month. Also, customers let us know we needed to increase our download speeds; they were connecting more devices, and their behaviors were changing.

This was the start of the growth in the use of streaming video services such as Netflix. Based on the feedback, we made changes to our packages in March 2011. Speeds were significantly increased on all packages, the download speed for our premium-tier product, Platinum, went from 60Mbps to 100Mbps, and we increased the usage allowance on our packages by 50 percent.

We have continued to watch what’s happening to Internet traffic – and it is no surprise that the demand for data transferred over the Internet has increased dramatically. Netflix has grown, and more video services have entered the market: Amazon Prime, Hulu and VUDU, to name a few. The latest game consoles – Microsoft xBox One, Nintendo Wii and Playstation PS4 – all connect to the Internet for interactive gaming and downloading new games onto the console itself. Also, everything is now connected to the home Internet network.

I have two teenage children, so our household has four smart phones, four tablets, several computers, a smart TV and couple of gaming consoles – plenty of opportunity for gobbling up data from the Internet. It’s no surprise that the average monthly data consumption for each BendBroadband Internet customer has mushroomed to a whopping 45GB – a 150 percent increase over 2011 levels.

Not surprisingly, Internet traffic peaks from early evening to around 10 p.m. Netflix accounts for about 60 percent of this spike.

Recognizing this huge increase in demand, and building on customer feedback, we are making changes to our Internet packages. Starting March 1, we’re changing the usage allowances:

InternetUsageTable2These changes allow our customers to right-size packages to suit their needs.

Additionally, there are things we can do to manage our Internet data consumption. Customers can check the amount of data they have used against their allowances. You can also sign up for email notifications that go out when you’re starting to reach your allowance limit.

You can also change the settings on many of the video streaming services, including Netflix and YouTube. I did this myself for Netflix through the settings on my account – going for “medium” download (the default is unlimited). It made a huge difference on my data consumption but had no impact on the quality of the Netflix video.

There are other things that may drive up your usage, and it might be happening without your awareness. There could be a virus on your computer or someone could be connecting to the Wi-Fi routers in your home without your knowledge. Luckily, many of these problems can be easily fixed. We have lots of information on these subjects on the help pages of our website. Alternatively, you’re welcome to call and speak to one of our technical support team members.

Needless to say, we’ll continue to monitor our network and make the investments needed to maintain our high levels of service.

Questions? Check out our 2014 Internet FAQs.

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