How much bandwidth does average user use?


I am monitoring a free wireless network at a apartment complex that has 250+ units (plus nearby individuals that are catching and using the free wifi).  I have access to a dashboard that shows me each computers IP for the moment, MAC address, and their bandwidth.

I was interesting in knowing how much data/bandwidth an average user uses to browse the internet a month.  I see A LOT of computers exceeding SEVERAL gigabytes of data which leads me to believe they are illegally downloading materials.  I have access to block these users but before i do i just want to make sure what the average users should be using.

For instance, if Joe is using 100mb of bandwidth, and Sally is using 2.1gb of bandwidth, is it safe to say Sally is downloading something?

I have a DSL line that averages 3.4 mbps if that matters.  We do not plan to put a password or MAC address filter on people who are leeching the free internet, that is the least of our worries, but i will be blocking access (probably mac address filtering) for those people abusing the network.

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Just a thought, the several Gb of bandwidth could also be from legitimate traffic. Something like downloading podcasts / streaming media or the likes. I think that defining abuse on such a setup is subjective, if I were you, I would establish a fair use policy and make all the users aware of it. You could also implement some sort of bandwidth cap to stop individual users hogging bandwidth.
khaji00Author Commented:
I argree, there are a lot of kids here as well that stream music and videos off youtube and radio sites.  But i have a user with 60gb/month which is a little strange.

I called my ISP and they "dont have statistics" for average bandwidth per month on their interent, which seems really stupid.

I am looking into throttling the internet via my dashboard.
yeah, 60Gb does seem a little excessive. you could use something like a passive ethernet tap connected to a machine running Ethereal that would sniff the packets and let you know exactly what was going on but that is a lot of information to sift through. What routing hardware are you using at the edge of the network? you may be able to get something like Netflow running that would give you an idea of what was going on without going into too much detail.
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I use up a lot of bandwidth using Netflix's streaming movies.  Unfortunately my ISP says the same thing so i'm not sure what my average usage is.  You should let users know before you start throttling though.  I'd be upset if I hit the ceiling watching some really bad movie and didn't have any bandwidth left to game with.
khaji00Author Commented:
We are using a Meraki system and dashboard software.  It does have several useful capabilities.  I cannot ask residents to install additional hardware to sniff any packets, I also use Netflix and i would be upset as well if my internet was killed.

For now i'm assuming users of 6gb/month and over need to be throttled.  I have a user with 170gb/month, a 60gb/month, and other smaller increments.
> and Sally is using 2.1gb of bandwidth, is it safe to say Sally is downloading something?

No, it isn't. You can easily download 2GB/month just getting windows and office updates for a single computer... what if there are 2 or 3 laptops sharing the connection in that apartment through a wireless router in AP Client mode?
How could you even tell that was happening if the wireless router was handling the NAT?

5GB/month is not unusual for average surfing and (totally legal) downloading of programs... and if they're streaming funny vids from youtube or catching episodes of shows they missed from, et cetera, watching their favorite college team because it's not broadcast locally or on ESPN2 (e.g. the Big Ten network makes all 11 teams' games available every week to subscribers), other alternative video from, et al, they can easily use 10GB/month.

Comcast's recently imposed 'average user' tier limit is 250 GB/month, I believe.  And they have users complaining THAT isn't enough!  LOL

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khaji00Author Commented:
The comcast limit to my knowledge is 250GB/month per household.  IMHO i believe that is MORE than enough.  I stream netflix movies regularly, and i have 5 computers at my household online with all kinds of streaming media and i dont get near that 250gb limit.

My main concern is my users with 170gb/month bandwidth and 60+gb/month bandwidth.  We have already caught users with several GB of illegal (copyrighted) material and warned them.  I am assuming i have the same issues at hand.  I cannot pinpoint these users as i only have their MAC address and cant prove their identity. (or at least not with my knowledge and power)
add in things like Steam games
Netflix DVD downloads..

there is many MANy easy ways to use alot of bandwidth and be doing it legally... people downloading the latest linux ISO's, even from torrent sites.

comcast is 250G a month now they officially stated and p2p is throttled to all heck even though the FCC gave them crap for it, but now that they publicly annouced their policy they can do as they like.

How are you catching them with illegal content? (i hope your not sniffing packets...) It should frankly be none of your buisness what users are using their internet for until the RIAA or MPAA comes knocking on your door and then you simply provide info once a court order is given.

Write up an acceptable usage policy for everone to use.

have you considered a login system for each user to connect instead of it being wide open? each person who wants to use it must provide ID and in turn they get a user and password which can be associated to their MAC address somehow?

250G a month is alot for MANY people but for others it is not, period, my steam games folders is 27G alone, i often reinstall my OS, thus having to download many updates, game updates, game demo ranging in gig's now, streaming files, sending gigs of pictures to friends or uploading to my website.....

just because 250G is alot for you doesnt mean it is for everyone.
khaji00Author Commented:

I understand.  We're not sniffing any packets or doing anything illegal, often individuals bring their computers into the officer and get them repaired as a service we offer them.  Of the computers we've repaired and cleaned of viruses we've found SEVERAL GB of music, movies, and pirated software, which has led me onto this chase of throttling bandwidth.

Thats why i'm trying to get an estimated # as to how much bandwidth will be ideal for each user.  This is a free wifi network, so we would like people to use it, but obviously not abuse it.  My last concern is people watching netflix movies, or streaming youtube videos regularly.  They can purchase their own internet (which is available) if they would like.
khaji00Author Commented:
For continuous improvement purposes, in what way did my answer fall short of your expectations in order to receive an 'A' grade?

then your best bet is to close all ports not standard, keep open port 80 / 8080 / 443 and maybe even port 21, for a free service they cant complain really, perhaps also open up IM port for msn, yahoo and aol so people can chat on messengers.
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