Hackszine: High-Bandwidth Sneakernet and Un-Unwiring Your Home

by Bruce Stewart

Here are a couple of posts over on O'Reilly's new Hackszine site that may be of interest to ETel readers. Jason Striegel takes a look at some actual costs involved in transferring very large chunks of data (courtesy of Jeff Atwood's The Econimics of Bandwidth) and comes to the realization that the good old sneakernet can still make economical sense when we're talking about moving terabytes of data around.

Jeff Atwood posted a great article on the economics of bandwidth the other day. He puts some current cost figures towards Jim Gray's 2003 ACM interview, in which Jim describes the efficiencies of packing and shipping a whole computer instead of copying a terabyte of data over the net.

According to Jeff's calculations, the effective sneakernet transfer rate for a terabyte of data is about 9.1 MBps at $0.06/GB. Only an OC-3 would be faster, which costs roughly $0.15/GB for both the sending and receiving end. Want to send 2 terabytes of data? Factoring in the extra time to copy to and from the disk, it works out to about 14.6 MBps at about the same cost per GB. Sneakernet scales.

And Brian Jepson takes a look at his unwired home and decides that thanks to the increased bandwidth requirements that online video will require, it's time to run some new wired connections.

So over the past week, we've been punching holes in the walls, and my 1000ft spool of Cat5 cable arrived over the weekend. I never thought I'd be wiring my house, but here I am, doing just that. Now I understand why the Xbox 360 WiFi adapter is an optional item.