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Risk

9/7/2007
01:21 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell
Commentary
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Bandwidth Is A Business Security Matter, Too

The more we can get, the more want to get -- nowhere truer than on the Internet, and getting truer by the day as rich video, audio, effects and extras become an expected part of the traffic. Not just entertainment traffic -- more and more small to midsized businesses are taking advantage of rich media and Web 2.0-ish techniques to send sophisticated sales, marketing and communications signals. But is their richness a business risk? It may be if your customers are Comcast customers.

The more we can get, the more want to get -- nowhere truer than on the Internet, and getting truer by the day as rich video, audio, effects and extras become an expected part of the traffic. Not just entertainment traffic -- more and more small to midsized businesses are taking advantage of rich media and Web 2.0-ish techniques to send sophisticated sales, marketing and communications signals. But is their richness a business risk? It may be if your customers are Comcast customers.Check out this article in The Washington Post about Comcast's crackdown on big downloaders.

Without revealing exactly what its daily download limits are, Comcast is disconnecting violators of those undisclosed limits.

While the disconnects are, at least according to Comcast, aimed at download abusers -- mass music-downloaders and YouTube addicts -- the policy could have a definite effect on businesses and their customers, particularly as each grows more accustomed to sending and receiving rich files.

If, for example, you have a series of professionally produced and delightfully digitized training, promotional or product films, should you warn those customers who are also Comcast customers that viewing your material could cost them their high-speed access?

Not doing videos? How about sending space-hungry PDF versions of manuals, product literature, books?

Or suppose your business itself is the production of content-rich digital materials. One or two intensive client back-and-forth reviews could see your company cut off.

Bandwidth caps don't really care what the material they're capping is, just that it's not small.

Unfettered -- and I'm not talking abusive here -- bandwidth access is as essential to securing your business's digital profile as anti-virusware, firewalls, etc.

Many if not most Comcast customers at least have hopes of other highways coming to their connections. But download caps are an almost unavoidable matter for satellite Internet customers who have no other access to (relatively) high-speed connections.

HughesNet's Fair Access Policy, for example, gives customers anywhere from 200 Mb to 1250 Mb per day, depending upon the level of their subscription. Pop past that limit -- or give indications that you're likely to -- and Hughes cuts your bandwidth to 14k for 24 hours.

Three or four goodsized PDFs, a software dump or a few minutes of video and it's hello dial-up speeds or slower.

So far Comcast and the satellite providers are the only players playing download cap hardball, and maybe it'll stay that way.

But as the Net becomes more and more a medium for rich content, and the delivery and receipt of rich content and fat files becomes more and more a part of doing business, it behooves you to make sure that your provider doesn't have hidden or potential caps that could cripple your ability to communicate or even do business.

And maybe you should add a little flag to your marketing videos and training PDFs, something along the lines of: Comcast and HughesNet Customers Download At Your Connection's Risk!

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