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Can someone help me understand what constitutes broadband useage ???

(12 Posts)
gingeroots Sat 10-Sep-11 18:48:57

I feel so dense and stupid and I'm not even sure how to phrase the question !

We have a contract with BT for our phone ,BT vision and internet useage .
We don't have an unlimited broadband useage but over the last 5 years have never exceeded the amount we are allowed ( package 2 ,40 something I think ) .
But last month we used 66 ( megabytes or something ,can't remember the name ,keep wanting to type megawatts ! ).

So now I realise that I don't even know what contributes to the use .
I have googled and think anytime you're on line you're eating up your allowance .
But presumably some things use more juice than others ?
Is skype ( just audio ) a greater use than posting on MN ?
Playing on line games ?
Playing on line via PS3 ?
Watching TV on ?? i player ?
Listen again on BBC radio ?
Listen again to music programmes ?
Downloading documents ?

We have recently become a two laptop family so I think it must be this that's put the useage up .
One laptop will be going with Ds to college ( which has wi-fi but do students have to pay for use ?? Oh Lord ,so much I don't know ! )
But I can't decide if we should get unlimited ( it seems expensive ) or hope useage will fall when DS goes and stay as we are ?

Any advice ?

lilystar Sat 10-Sep-11 19:22:26

Yep, anytime you are online you are using your allowance. Anything involving video will use a lot of your download limit, so watching iplayer, ITVplayer, 4od, PS3 online, downloading videos are the biggest users. Music uses less than video but more than just text etc, so listening to streaming music, radio, skype are next, then you have your usual browsing (including MN) which will use very little of your allowance.

If it's your DS who is playing PS3 online and probably has been downloading loads of stuff ready for college you may be ok once he has gone - he might get free wifi, but there will almost certainly be caps on usage - but if you are starting to watch more TV/video online it may be worth looking at going to an unlimited package.

gingeroots Sat 10-Sep-11 20:00:03

Thanks lilystar that's making sense to me ,I'm begining to understand .

lilystar Sat 10-Sep-11 20:51:54

You're welcome, gingeroots! You can install usage monitors, or there might be one included with the BT software (don't know, am not on BT) but most of them will only tell you what your machine uses, not the other laptop or the PS3, so it will give you an idea but not be definitive. There is usually a way to get figures from the modem but I wouldn't know where to start with a BT one - it might be worth googling the BT Broadband help forums, as I am sure someone there will know.

gingeroots Sat 10-Sep-11 21:27:59

Thanks - Yes BT have one ,but I couldn't use /make it work when I tried ,ages ago .
But I think it's the relative " consumption " that I was interested in ,and you've helped a lot with that query .

NetworkGuy Sun 11-Sep-11 11:48:56

Would be worth checking if the BT Broadband "my account" facility has a usage monitor of any sort. I use Plusnet and it reports how much data has been passed in the 'billing month' so far, and if one wants more detail, can show each day separately.

I could be wrong but I don't think the BT Vision downloads count against your allowance. I know some ISPs charge extra for going over your limit, while others slow your connection down to snails pace until the next billing month. Mine allows unlimited use between midnight and 8am but you can only use BT Vision if you have BT Broadband so not an option.

Skype now offers video as well as audio, so that can generate more traffic.

For something like a BBC TV show, 30 minutes uses about 300 MB, 60 minutes about 600 MB, if something is in HD then it is a bigger download.

At least with watching video, your home would not be 'sending' a lot of data. However, if DS is using Torrents (peer to peer file sharing) then he may download a movie (typically 700 MB to 1.5 GB) but as he is 'sharing' a lot of other people can ask for chunks to be sent to them, and therefore your connection might download a 700 MB film but send out 3 times that much data, making the total transfer 2800 MB (nearly 3 GB). It is quite easy to do that.

It might be worth asking your DS what he's been doing as the data transfer amount has 'shot up' recently.

Listening to Radio 3 HD is another way to cause a major increase in traffic, so it might not be all his doing, of course! (I use R3 HD as a test for how well my connection is performing, and that can will run until you stop it, and is a 'heavy download' type of use).

gingeroots Sun 11-Sep-11 20:38:06

Thank you networkguy - but not sure I understand
if DS is using Torrents (peer to peer file sharing) then he may download a movie (typically 700 MB to 1.5 GB) but as he is 'sharing' a lot of other people can ask for chunks to be sent to them, and therefore your connection might download a 700 MB film but send out 3 times that much data, making the total transfer 2800 MB (nearly 3 GB). It is quite easy to do that.
Would one/DS know whether he is using Torrents ,do you think ?

What is Radio3 HD ??? High definition radio ? Mmmm - DP does listen again to obscure music programmes ,wonder if they are HD .

OK - I'm going to look again at BT monitor to see if I can assess daily use .

BadgersPaws Sun 11-Sep-11 23:01:21

"Would one/DS know whether he is using Torrents ,do you think?"

Ask him if he's downloading games, movies or music from the internet. Torrents is one method of doing this but there are others.

To begin with the downloading might very well be illegal, so he shouldn't be doing it anyway, but it is something that will really chew up bandwidth if you're running with a limit on what you can download.

NetworkGuy Mon 12-Sep-11 20:42:02

Re R3 HD yes, that is just one 'high definition' streaming radio service... aiming at CD or better quality via the net. The BBC service is experimental while some others are run from US universities.

Naoko Tue 13-Sep-11 01:49:29

The other thing it could be, if your DS plays games on his laptop as well as the PS3, is if he's been buying and downloading games via Steam. Steam is a digital games reseller, all fine and dandy and legal, nothing wrong with using it, but the games, especially newer ones, are often very large files indeed. I downloaded one that was 11GB not too long ago and as I'm on a 50GB a month limit I have to watch my Steam use as well.

NetworkGuy Tue 13-Sep-11 15:41:17

Gulp. Knew they were big games downloads but didn't know they were that big!

gingeroots Wed 14-Sep-11 14:53:26

Ah ha - Steam will be what it is !
Thank you all MNners advisers !

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