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Bandwidth Mathematics

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Now let's discuss bandwidth. First of all large bandwidth cost a lot of money.  There are several types of WAN connection available:

Smaller providers use DC3 connections and larger providers OC3 and OC12 connections.

There is no free lunch and DC3 lines are not cheap and they are limited to 45Mbps or approximately 4M/sec or 240M per minute or 14G per hour. That means that you can transfer approximately 300G per day or 10,000G per month.  That's all you have for your users.

DS3 product is designed to handle the most bandwidth-intensive applications. A DS3 (or T3) is a digital communications link that supports data transmission rates of about 43-45Mbps. A DS3 line actually consists of 672 individual channels, each of which supports 64Kbps.

The cost is approximately from $5,000 to $15,000 per month depending on distance to provider and other factors. If you have 1000 users on one DS3 line your minimal per user cost is around $5 and reasonable per user limit would be around 15G per month.  Of course not all users can utilize such bandwidth so for ISP that allocate 1000 users per one DS3 line  it is reasonably safe to advertise, say, 30-50G per month per user.  But not more.  

The problem is that web sites load is not evenly distributed and lyon share is consumed during rather mall windows 8-10 hours a day max. That means that even typical for a meduim Web site 50GB per month will not be distributed during 24 hours but concentrated in approximately one third of the day and thus are equivalent to 150GB of evenly distributed load.  Assuming that DC3 provides around 10,000GB per month  that's just hundred accounts per DC3 line, if all users are active in the same rush hours and are equally bandwidth hungry. Luckily this is not that case so and in  realy approximately ten time more users might still be OK. But rarely more.

Forget about 1000G per month on shared accounts like some providers advertise.  That's a ream of dedicated servers with dedicated connections and costs are completely different. Such traffic means ~33G a day or around 2G per hour during 10 hours a day with real traffic (usually this is day day hours, something like 8am-6pm). That requires having your own 5-10Mbit connection to Internet. Assuming $50K per month for such a connection and $10 for hardware, rent, electricity and labor and you get $60 per month which is about right for a dedicated server.  You can get this price by hosting server at office and using Optonline or similar cable service business plan.  Most providers charge more and provided limited hardware, for example Rackspace charges $199. In other words there in no free lunch. 

Amazon charges you per gigabyte of traffic ($0.1 per gigabyte) and they have huge datacenters, large customer base and are not stupid. So you can assume that this $0.1 per 1G of traffic is a low price point and if you need quality of service you should prefer providers with per gigabyte traffic charges.  Returning to Amazon, if you try to get a virtual server your per year cost will be pretty high if your traffic is anything but minimal.

That means that you should beware providers which advertise exceedingly large quotas for bandwidth, the quotas that exceed informal quotas listed above by a very large margin.



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