As a consumer, I have been watching the move to the “cloud” with a huge amount of interest. Unlike many consumers, I have a much more visibility into what is happening with my traffic on the cloud, and there are some potential bumps for the power user household if they do not have a good handle on their usage. I happen to have a Procera system (a miniature version that we call a PocketLogic) on my home network that I use to monitor and control my home network.
For example, for the month of June, my household used quite a bit of “cloud” bandwidth for content stored in the cloud and digital purchases.
|PlayStation Network||65 GB||Free Game Downloads from Playstation Plus|
|iTunes Store||13.1 GB||We have several iPads and iPod Touches; application uploads and purchases eat lots of bandwidth|
|Mac App Store||3.1 GB||A single Mac with no purchases, only updates|
|Steam Transfer||650 MB||Three computers at home use Steam for gaming (plus Civilization V: Gods and Kings was released in June!)|
|iCloud||100 MB||We are minimal users of iCloud|
|Dropbox||60 MB||Dropbox for work across two devices (iPad and Mac), very little activity|
Moving beyond cloud applications, I happen to have a household that is a heavy user of streaming video, especially YouTube (my children) and NetFlix:
|HTTP Media Streaming||51 GB|
|NetFlix||24 GB||This is actually a very light month|
|Amazon On Demand||5.7 GB||Amazon does not have the extensive catalog that Netflix does, usually second choice in our household|
As you can see just from the above applications, I consumed 163GB without even taking into account my normal day-to-day activities (which in this case was 100GB for June) on the internet: normal web browsing, download, non-children video streaming ads or new stories (I track usage per device, so I can tell the difference, there was ~2GB of pure video ads that stole from my cap in June).
Although this is just one example of usage from a power household, there are some new business models being built that depend heavily on the “cloud” for service that are reflected in my usage patterns. Some high profile examples:
|Video Games/Software Distribution: More direct downloads, less physical media||Huge size of games and software packages could cause consumers to have to monitor their purchases closely, and frequent updates could spike bandwidth usage|
|Streaming Video: Direct to Consumer streaming, ad-supported or monthly fee services||Watching streaming video consumes mass quantities of bandwidth, will blow through most fixed line quotas, much less mobile caps. By some accounts, Netflix became the largest “cable channel” by usage last month.|
|On-line storage services: Single repository for content and files (iCloud for media sharing is a great example)||If a consumer has multiple devices synchronizing with cloud services, a single file changed in the cloud must be downloaded to all devices. iCloud might be the extreme example for heavy photo/video creators using this between Apple devices. This could grow to be a huge bandwidth hog in the future.|
These types of services are perfect for partnerships between the service providers and the content/service providers. A service plan that included “free” Apple Store downloads or iCloud synchronization would be extremely attractive to a household with many Apple devices. Netflix/YouTube/streaming video plans will happen in many countries, simply because not having one will be a competitive disadvantage. Gaming plans are already offered in some areas, but adding in download exemptions for new games will become more attractive as consoles become the new set-top box and fewer games are purchased in stores.
The Cloud offers some very intriguing new service opportunities (as well as challenges), and operators that find ways to turn these challenges to services will differentiate themselves from their competition.