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How much is in a Gigabyte? – or the not so broad-band experience

The ordinary broadband user does not grasp the concept of “Gigabyte per month”, despite many years of educational efforts by operators around the world. A typical operator illustration looks like this: for one Gigabyte you can get x (low single digits number) hours of video, or y (double-digit number) hours of music, or z-thousands of (not too high-resolution) photo messages. The often advertised promise of high-definition video on the go and the actual reality of limited data packages are usually far apart.

A friend, who recently moved to a farm house in the country side complained to me: I cannot get any fixed-line service here and while my 3G mobile connection works fine, my data is used up within 3 days – so for the rest of the month, I’m left with chatting on whatsapp.

An illustration of what happens here: In most European countries the average person consumes around 4 hours of TV per day. Bringing this experience to an IP world translates into an astonishing data volume of 1 Terabyte (or 1000 Gigabyte) per month (assuming high-definition video). This is far from any current mobile data package and even far from the newly data-limited DSL packages of Deutsche Telekom, which offer a maximum data allowance of 75GB at entry level and 400GB at the highest package. So, even this highest package would cut you off in less than half a month, if you were to bring all your average TV consumption to the Internet.

There is still a long way to go until an all-IP world can become reality.

Written by Matt Halfmann, Partner, Coleago Consulting

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