Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Another Analogy for Bandwidth

I realize my previous water company analogy may not have been as all-encompassing as I'd hoped, so here's my second attempt at a simpler analogy.

Imagine a glass of water with straws in it.

Consider the width of the opening of the glass to be the bandwidth that Time Warner has to the Internet for everyone to use.

Consider the water in the glass to be the data that you want to download (by sucking it up through a straw).

Finally, consider a single straw as your connection to the Internet.

When there are only a few straws in the glass, everyone can suck up data as fast as their straw will allow them (that is, the speed of your connection in Mbps - also known as bandwidth).

Some straws represent more speed / greater bandwidth and are bigger than others. But there is only a limited amount of space in the glass to put straws. If you pack the glass full of straws to the point where you can't add any more, then you've reached the maximum capacity (bandwidth) of the glass (backbone Internet connection).

What Time Warner is proposing is that you will get a bigger straw for the top tiers, but you'll only be able to take two sips. Every sip afterwards will cost you extra money. Because you're straw is so big, you only get a few sips as opposed to a couple good slurps.

Time Warner's plan doesn't deal with the problem of too many straws in the glass. Indeed they're exacerbating the problem by making some straws bigger.

The people in the lowest tier will also receive the smallest straws and take much longer to reach their allotted number of sips because they don't get as much data per sip as the higher tiers / bigger straws.

Let me know if this is any clearer. I really want to help everyone understand why Time Warner's tiered Internet access by usage doesn't help anyone -- not even the light users.

I'm not the only one using water as an analogy for bandwidth.

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