How can I buy end-user bandwidth for my customers?

Solution 1:

For all intents and purposes, no, this is not possible. Even if it were, the technical and contractual logistics required would cripple your business.

Think through this a bit more: Joe user at University signs up for your service. You then approach one of the University's many providers (which one? How might you know what provider Joe user's traffic egresses out of today, let alone tomorrow when things change). So then you have to make agreements with all of their providers. But then you realize that somehow you need to make an addendum to a contract that was made between the provider and the university, without the university's involvement?!? How exactly do you expect that to work? Oh and then, you realize that Joe user's traffic is likely subject to heavy traffic shaping and that any "extra bandwidth" you could procure (if such a thing were even possible) would be pointless due to traffic shaping rules. Even if traffic shaping rules weren't in play, why do you think traffic to/from your site should get special treatment? How do you thing the network people would feel about that?

See? It's impossible for many, many reasons. Honestly, though, I think you're proposing a solution for a non-existent problem. If your customers are on university or corporate networks, there is likely plenty of bandwidth to spare. A few gigabytes is not that much data, and is lost in the noise when viewed with all of the other traffic on the network.

Solution 2:

Depending on the frequency at which you exchange data with the customer, it could be cheaper, faster, and more efficient to mail them a storage drive, then pay to have it overnighted back to you when populated with data. This would cost a tiny fraction of what your agreement plan would cost long-term. Turnaround time may be nearly the same if lots of data is involved and their upload speed is low, as most asymmetric connections provided by most ISPs tend to be.

Solution 3:

It sounds like in effect you want to pay a users ISP to zero-rate traffic to your site, similar how to some cell carriers allow you to stream video from certain websites without impacting your allocation. If you are a major company like Google or Netflix then this has a ghost of a chance of being feasible, otherwise most companies will not talk to you -- its not worth their time to implement the necessary infrastructure for such a small user base.

The corporate or school clients (I am thinking such as a hotel) may very well not have the capacity to scale their bandwidth in an economic way either. They may have the equivalent of a T1 (hence the connection metering), and the only way to go above that is to buy another entire T1. You aren't going to want to pay for that. If your service is profitable enough to make those kind of deals anyway then your clients would be able to afford commercial tier ISPs anyway and won't need you to do so.

If you approached someplace that could meaningfully scale their bandwidth, they'd still want you to foot the bill for the whole years worth of extra bandwidth since they likely have a yearly contract. Anything government or education related (state schools) would have its own entire issues with procuring extra capacity at your behest.

So, if you have very very deep pockets and an army of lawyers and marketers then you might make some progress, but the model just does not scale and I can't fathom how it would be profitable.

Solution 4:


No it is not possible because it is likely to be illegal in the country you are operating in. The proviso of course being that if you are in the US, the FCC/Trump are currently in the process removing the laws that protect users from the evils of such an arrangement.

Net Neutrality

Hi Ryan, I think you are asking the wrong question. Of course what you are asking is technically possible. In fact arrangements have been made in the past to that effect.

The better questions is "Is this arrangement LEGAL and if not, why not".

You question falls under the realm of Net Neutrality, which is where all ISPs treat all data the same. You want this because the world you imagine, taken to the logical conclusion would mean that you cannot access any website (at any appreciable speed) without that website forking lots of money to your ISP, assuming the ISP accepts their money.

Take a theoretical case study. Bob lives in a rural area which is only served by a fictional ISP. We shall call this Cast-Com. Bob likes his TV streaming and has signed up for a third party TV streaming service, we shall call WebFlicks.

However Cast-Com is owned by Temporal Magazine, who also have been their own inferior TV streaming service, which they would like to push onto their Cast-Com customers. Cast-Com begins throttling back the bandwidth from Cast-Com customers to WebFlicks locking Cast-Com users to the inferior TV service.

Of course this is all theoretical and has never happened before...

Solution 5:

Couple of points:

  • Couple of GBs is not that large these days. Most universities are on a very good bandwidth connection anyways. I knew our Physics Dept. (Wisconsin, USA) worked on the ATLAS / LHC projects where they used to fill a terabyte HDD with data in about a month all streamed in from the experimental sites over the internet for analysis. And this was back circa. 2010.

  • Rather than get data to your "site" could you get the "site" to the data? i.e. Load your code on a server and just install the server on site? Or do you need a cluster / cloud etc?

  • I know of one arrangement in the past where the university had two sites separated by 100 miles and due to the needs there were bandwidth bottlenecks. So they had a provider add fiber to connect those. And the network was configured to bypass that traffic directly.

  • In another case there was a local ISP who had a lot of university staff and students etc. log in so a lot of local traffic. They had worked out some kind of arrangement where they co-located some equipment on site at the University and the traffic to the University selectively bypassed the public internet due to routing rules.