Always-on 56kbps Connection

on 18 January 2013
I wasn't able to quickly find the answer to this question, so I thought I'd just figure out the answer and post it here for anyone else who is ever curious.

Question: How much bandwidth is consumed if a 56kbps connection is left open (and used to maximum capacity) for a month.
Answer: 17.3 MB

The easiest way to do the arithmetic is by making the numbers as small as possible right off the bat. Since 8 bits make a byte, a dial-up modem is able to push 7 bytes a second. And since there are 86,400 seconds in a day, we have a maximum of 604,800 bytes in a day, or 0.576782 MB. Multiply that by 30 and we find that the maximum capacity of a dial-up connection is 17.3 MB per month. Wow. That's nothing.

The reason I was thinking about this is because I just received a new Huawei cellphone for $15. It's a backup phone in case I ever lose my main one. For that price, you just can't go wrong. I'm surprised at how cheap and relatively full-featured it is, for a basic phone (though it does feel a bit like a toy). Since I don't make many calls at all, I was wondering what else could be done with something like this. Well, how about an always-on dial-up connection for a stop-motion camera?

But based on the math above, this wouldn't make much sense. The cheapest unlimited voice-only plans I've come across are $20 a month, which equates to over $20 per MB in this case. That's higher than roaming data rates in Russia. Nuts to that. I'll stick with a 4G connection, especially since there are at least a couple of new providers offering free data of up to 500 MB per month.