Compression – How important is it?

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As you know, I live in a non-metropolitan area. More specifically, I live in northern Canada, in an area called the Yukon Territory (for ease of reference, we border Alaska). Because of our more remote geographic location, you can imagine that costs for everything from food to internet are higher than more populated, southern areas. So, how much do we pay for internet ?

Well, for a business that can access cable internet infrastructure, the cheapest plans look like this:

10 Mbps downstream / 768 Kbps upstream / 60 GB usage cap ($3 per GB overage) for $149.95 a month.
5 Mbps downstream / 512 Kbps upstream / 25 GB usage cap ($3 per GB overage) for $79.95 a month.

And the most expensive plan:

100 Mbps downstream / 5 Mbps upstream / 350 GB usage cap ($2.50 per GB overage) for $399.95 a month.

DSL services (where cable isn’t available) are even worse. That’s probably a little bit more expensive than what you’re used to, eh ? For this reason, certain cloud services aren’t practical for us to use or recommend to clients. Cloud backup for desktops for example, or for virtual machines or servers. Most organizations that we’ve interacted with are using the 60 GB a month plan. Keep in mind, 60 GB a month is not a lot of usage, especially when you’re looking at 20+ workstations. That’s only 3 GBs per workstation, or 100 MBs per day. Go ahead and do something as simple as streaming Eli’s Daily Blob talk show and see what happens…..

This isn’t just limited to the business world of IT either. In the home, think of cloud services like Netflix. Stream a few HD movies and you’re going to be getting pretty close to your usage caps. This is why compression is such an important thing. Even for those of you in more populated areas down south that enjoy much higher bandwidth cap limits, it’s still a pain to have to worry about and keep track of. Developments in compression techniques and algorithms allow us to move data over the internet in smaller packages. This is what RIM, Research in Motion, was famous for in their BlackBerry smartphone product. They had cutting edge, industry leading compression capabilities, which were required back in the days when wireless cellular service was slower (CDMA 1xRTT was averaging 80 Kbps). Unfortunately in the cellular world, compression has taken a backseat as a priority mainly due to the increases in wireless network speeds (LTE in Canada averages 20 Mbps downstream).

With all the talk around ‘net neutrality’, content providers like Netflix would be well served funding Research & Development of next generation compression techniques. Compression remains an important part of the internet, especially for those of us living in non-metropolitan areas.


Martin Lehner

Martin Lehner is an technology professional working for an IT services firm in Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada). He has been working in the technology field for over a decade. With a degree in Business Admin and numerous industry certifications, Martin leads a team of IT professionals that provide third party support for clients. Originally starting a company to offer web development services, Martin quickly realized that clients wanted the entire spectrum of technology services. When Martin is not at work (which is not often, since his company offers 24/7 support), he is busy at home spending time with his family.

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