What is a Bandwidth Hog?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Bandwidth hog is a term used to describe someone who uses an excessive amount of Internet bandwidth on a regular basis. Normal web surfing does not usually generate very much bandwidth usage, so other activities are normally required to raise the levels very high. For example, if a person streams a lot of media, or downloads files on a regular basis, he might be considered a bandwidth hog. In many cases, companies that offer Internet service define bandwidth hogs on the basis of how their usage compares to the average customer.

The term bandwidth hog is often used by Internet service providers (ISPs) that want to impose bandwidth limitations on users or charge different fees for different levels of usage. Some who oppose this mindset claim there is no real stress on Internet bandwidth, suggesting that the term bandwidth hog is an unfair classification. This argument has generated some degree of controversy, and there have been legal battles regarding whether or not it’s acceptable for companies to limit bandwidth for certain kinds of online activities.

There are some online behaviors that have been targeted by companies as indicative of a typical bandwidth hog. These generally include the use of file sharing applications like BitTorrent and streaming of entire movies through online services. According to some experts, bandwidth hogs could potentially cause problems for other users if rationing of some kind isn't implemented.


Many ISPs are concerned about the possibility of future strains on bandwidth because of changing technology. For example, the trend toward increased use of the Internet as a replacement for television could eventually lead to much greater bandwidth consumption. Many users take advantage of Internet services that offer movies and entire seasons of television programs to stream instantly. This is often considered more convenient than watching regular television, so some companies expect more people to begin taking advantage of this in the future.

People who favor the concept of net-neutrality, often see the term "bandwidth hog" as propaganda. These people claim that there is no real danger of increased cost for companies based on rising bandwidth usage. This is because technological changes have often allowed for rapid increases in bandwidth along with simultaneous reductions in cost. Many people who favor net-neutrality believe that technology improvements are easily keeping up with the rising use of bandwidth, and they believe there is no need for throttling or other methods of rationing.


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