22 days of 512 Kbps

A bit torrent oversight drained off my 170 GB broadband plan and for the rest of my cycle my Internet surfing speed came down to 512 Kbps from 15 Mbps.

There was a time when 512 Kbps seemed like the coolest way to surf the Internet, especially when you have just upgraded from a 256 Kbps plan and just a couple of years ago you were using 14 Kbps on a dial-up modem. Heavy flash pages loaded just like that and you just needed to buffer the YouTube videos for a few seconds before you could run them non-stop. And anyway YouTube only became a hit in our household when our daughter started watching videos on our phones rather than constantly drawing plans to throw the gadgets down from the balcony — her favourite pastime that always kept us on our toes when she was quite young.

Those days, if you wanted to boast about a broadband connection, 512 Kbps would do just fine.

Then perhaps came a time when 512 Kbps began to feel sluggish. The torrent files would take forever to download, the YouTube videos would go on buffering and many of the pages wouldn’t load (sometimes it all seems like a conspiracy to force people to upgrade). I actually don’t remember it, I must had gotten frustrated, called up my ISP and upgraded my plan to 1 Mbps. The surfing must had become state-of-the-art, but I don’t remember, I seem to have lost memory of those days. Then there must had come a time when a 1 Mbps connection started feeling sluggish. Then 2 Mbps. Then 4 Mbps. Around a year ago when I changed my ISP, I straightaway opted for a 15 Mbps connection with 170 GB bandwidth.

Life suddenly came to a standstill (not exactly standstill but almost similar) one day when many of the webpages I took so for granted simply refused to load. I switched on and off my router just in case, multiple times. Then I headed to speedtest.net and to my horror, saw that the needle of the barometer wouldn’t budge beyond the middle of 0 and 1M. For so many years I had never seen the needle in this position. Panic ensued and I called up my service provider and the guy on the other side told me, matter-of-factly, that I had run out of my allocated bandwidth. “In 8 days?!”, I asked in disbelief. “Yes,” he replied, again, of course, matter-of-factly. I couldn’t believe my ears.

“It isn’t just possible, I never go beyond 120 GB in a whole month, how can I use 170 GB in just 8 days?” I thought I was having a nightmare.

“Yes, sir, you have,” he said in a, now-too-familiar matter-of-factly manner.

“There must be something wrong on your side, please check the details, please check my pattern and you will see I never use so much bandwidth,” I insisted.

But of course the guy insisted too and he also offered to send me my usage details. Although I agreed that he should send me my usage details, I also wanted to talk to a support person and he took my complaint.

When the support person called after a couple of hours, he was able to explain to me how I must had left some torrent file unattended and this drained away practically 90 GB of data in just four days. Nothing could be done. Matter-of-factly. I would have to wait for my monthly cycle to get over and only then my bandwidth limit would be reset to 0 and my speed would be reinstated to 15 Mbps. 22 days seemed like an eternity. “Modi will be PM by then,” I thought.

There is a booster plan available with my ISP but I haven’t opted for it because first, it isn’t much (it is given in the slots of 2 GB per boost and you only get 4 boosts) and second, I wanted to practice some patience (and luckily my wife too had no problem with a drastically reduced browsing speed) and third, our daughter would be dissuaded from incessantly watching online videos due to repeated buffering.

It’s been surely a humbling experience. No longer I could simply click a video and watch its contents without giving a second thought on whether it would load or not. There are at least 60-70 family photographs uploaded by relatives that I haven’t browsed because I would have to wait for the individual image to load. I haven’t downloaded any heavy file directly or via torrent. I wonder why 512 Kbps used to be such a great speed to browse Internet and now why it feels so insufficient.

There was a law in the offing that ensured a minimum of 2 Mbps as a fundamental right, I don’t know what happened to that law, but it would have been good had it been enforced.

Anyway, just a few days left and I’m eagerly waiting for my monthly allocation to reset. Tomorrow, political fortunes will be made and destroyed. There will either be a new beginning, or we will be stuck with the same old thing. Hopefully, it will be a historic 16th of May 2014, and I will try to keep up with everything with my 512 Kbps connection.

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