Thursday, June 10, 2010

Nerd Word of the Week: Data pig

more bandwidth && more sandwichImage by EisFrei via Flickr
Data pig (n.) - A person who consumes an unusually high amount of data over a network connection. Not to be confused with a bandwidth hog, which is a user that consumes so much network data that network performance is reduced for other users. Data pigs are heavy users that don't cause problems. Internet service providers often (intentionally) mislabel data pigs as bandwidth hogs. Data pigs are usually subscribers to "unlimited" data plans -- plans which increase customer subscriptions, but limit ISP profits -- and thus ousting data pigs is often a net profit gain for service providers.

I bring it up because: The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) was announced yesterday as an industry board that will "advise" the US government on net neutrality issues. The need to clamp down on (or profit from) data pigs is often one of the motivating factors for opponents of net neutrality. Moreover, AT&T (a BITAG member) just last week ended its "unlimited" wireless data plan for iPhone and iPad owners, such that they can now charge data pigs more money and hopefully alleviate strain on the bandwidth-strapped AT&T wireless network.While Google is also a member of BITAG and perhaps the world's staunchest corporate advocate for net neutrality so is Comcast, which was smacked by the FCC for secretly throttling peer-to-peer data pigs. We'll see who wins in the end, but in the short term it's almost certainly going to get harder to be a data pig.