Spotify the silent bandwidth thief?

By | January 18, 2010 at 10:18 pm | No comments | Technology | Tags: ,

I’m talking from experience here, and I would like to think I am not naive enough to just wander into anything without first checking it out, but I am fairly certain that I have fell foul to my own trust when I installed Spotify.

Not only is Spotify a music-lover’s dream.  Not only does it clear your conscience by allowing you the peace of mind that you are no ripping off musicians’’ hard work by downloading the latest unlicensed MP3 download, but actually contributing to a service that lets you listen to their music and in turn furnishes them with their duly deserved royalties.  So what could possibly go wrong?

Sphincter says what?!

I am currently with (not an affiliate link) as my ADSL provider, and I have nothing but great things to say about them unlike my previous traffic-shaping peak-time ISP that is Tiscali (no link at all for you dirty, dirty robbing b*stards).  So, as you can imagine, I was disheartened when my ADSL line suddenly started crawling websites slowly, download speeds on simple .zip files were ridiculously slow etc etc.  I logged into my control panel to see that I had been hit with a line-speed limitation for using over 40gb (my personal allowance was 35gb) on file-data transfer via peer-to-peer.  To say I don’t normally download 35gb via peer-to-peer normally is an understatement – I rarely use torrents unless for official World Of Warcraft updates etc.

I decided to ring customer support as I was fairly certain that there must be a mistake.  Unfortunately as soon as I asked why my line was limited with speed the advisor kindly asked in a nonchalant way:  “Have you recently installed Spotify?”

Spotify is a Peer-to-Peer program (doh!)

Much like the peer-to-programs of the past (Napster, Bearshare, Grokster etc) Spotify embraces this software to serve millions of tracks to their users – by using their own bandwidth.  This is where the “doh!” moment comes in.  I was unaware of the software being peer-to-peer as were hundreds of other users according to their customer support.  I “assumed” that the software was being ran like any other online radio or podcast-type system where the music was simply streamed from Spotify’s servers and this landing nicely on my PC.  Again, apparently not.

Looking at Spotify’s website at first glance there is no mention that their program runs as peer-to-peer nor does it openly state on the download page that their service might infringe upon your ISP’s fair usage policy.  Only when you delve into the help files or the FAQ’s is it fully explained.

What do I do next?

Nothing, simply ignore the absolutely amazing idea that is Spotify until I am at work and use their leased line with unlimited data transfer limitations so I can get my music fix.  It’s just a shame that I have to not take part in this amazing service at home because of the state of the UK ISP’s and their ridiculous traffic quota.  I don’t care if I am wrong on this, but I still blame BT for not investing into optical much, much earlier than they should have and behind so many other countries (Sweden I am looking at you!)

About the Author

Kev Strong

Kev Strong is an online marketing consultant at Newcastle Upon Tyne based digital marketing agency, Mediaworks. A lover of all things search and an ex-web developer, Kev Strong (a.k.a Goosh) is a specialist in advanced search engine optimisation.