Netflix traffic accounted for 34% of North America’s downloads
during the busiest hours of the day this year.
Drew Fitzgerald, Wall Street Journal, 2014 May 14
Maybe you already knew that Netflix accounts for one-third of internet downloads. But maybe you didn’t know that I accounted for another one-third of internet traffic this last week, downloading new software and uploading my documents and photos to online storage.
OK, not quite a full one-third share. But combined with our current Netflix preoccupation (“MI-5,” a BBC intelligence thriller with ten (count ’em, ten) seasons), my reconfiguration of my laptop and my foray into cloud storage did push us over the bandwidth limit on our internet package. A limit we’d never paid any attention to before, not in six years with this provider. It’s hard to get to 60 GB/month just by downloading Word files from shared work sites and uploading vacation photos to Google+ albums, 30 at a time.
But it turns out it’s quite easy to blow through 60 GB watching Netflix offerings—especially in the dog days of the network summer schedule—and uploading, oh, say, 30 GB in accumulated photos for backup. Just to pick a number out of the air.
The bottom line? We now have double the bandwidth and a new, much faster modem, all for slightly less than we have been paying. Not to mention a never-before-mentioned option for vacation shutdown, useful for the snowbirds we have become.
Pleased to have a better deal? Yup. Chagrined not to have looked into it sooner? Yup, that too. After all, it isn’t as if I hadn’t seen the behaviour modeled, and several years ago, at that.
Is that the best you can do?
Using a more polite variant of that plain-language question, the speaker is a client’s purchasing agent, talking to a supplier. The self-appointed mission? To push down corporate costs by asking one simple question of a different supplier every month.
Is that the best you can do?
Neither the words actually used nor the tone even hinted at a threat to take the business elsewhere. It was just a question. Yet invariably the answer was, No. We can do better. I was astounded and a little chagrined by the success of this tactic.
After all, in some idealized world, companies would call to offer me better deals. Faster modems. Higher bandwidth. Lower rates. In the real world, I have to ask, either directly or a little more softly.
Here’s what I have now. Is there any way that I can do better?
And once I put it like that, it’s a question I can put to myself, too.
In some idealized world, someone would monitor my performance and call to suggest improvements. Gently. In the real world, I have to do my own monitoring.
Is there any way that I can do better? If not cheaper—although that might be possible, too—then perhaps faster? Sooner? Reliabler? Thorougher? Thoughtfuller?
After all, money is nice, but man (sic) does not live by, ahem, bread alone. And neither do I.