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A question about bandwidth was asked and answered in Nov 2011... we are now Aug 2013 and the usage of bitcoin has grown enormously since then.

So just as an update to that question I ask it again with the benefit of being here and now. I hope this is allowed.

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    A comment on the answer to the other question to the effect of "is this still accurate, as-of Aug 2013?" probably would have sufficed. – Stephen Gornick Aug 27 '13 at 20:34
  • I thought about that however it would not have got posted as an open question and therefore would have less chance of being answered. – T9b Aug 28 '13 at 6:42
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Since we've already asked this question, let's try to re-answer it with some additional insights:

Without mining or relaying, in order to participate in the network, one would need enough time to download all transactions within a block before the next block is found in order to stay synced with the network. Considering that a block has a maximum size of 1 Megabyte and that the block time is about 10 minutes, this puts the theoretical minimum download speed at about 1 Megabyte per 10 minutes or 1.7kbps (according to Google)-- much slower than a dial up modem. Notice that this figure is constant -- so the size of network does not dictate how much bandwidth is required to participate in the network, so this was true in 2011 and will be true in the future.

In the original question, we wanted to run a wallet from work. If all we want to do is trade bitcoin, this should be fine (provided that you do download the initial values for the block chain outside of work), but to do more on the network...

If we're relaying transactions, not just downloading them, the calculations can vary wildly. Here our bandwidth should be proportional to the number of transactions posted per second (which should be predictable) as well as the number of node to which you are connected (which isn't easily predictable).

If we're mining, you're going to have to broadcast your mined blocks, which as mentioned before, can have a maximum size of 1 MB, and you're going to want to broadcast this as fast possible -- not just within the 10 minutes. You could put the theoretical minimum required upload speed at 1.7kbps, but it's simply not practical.

I realize that this doesn't the question about how much average-bandwidth clients us, but if you're only posting and reading transactions, we shouldn't need more than about 1.7kbps. If you begin mining and relaying, we're going to need more, but it's hard to predict how much.

  • I did not ask the original question and that stuff about running from work holds no interest. But, I don't understand how there can be a constant limit to the size of a block. The more transactions being made would increase the size of the data in each block. Have I missed something? – T9b Aug 28 '13 at 6:55
  • Apologies, I've modified the answer to reflect that you did not ask the original question. As for the constant maximum block size, it's just part of the specification as mentioned here: en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Weaknesses#Spamming_transactions – John Henry Aug 28 '13 at 15:35
  • Oh, and if the size of transactions in a block reaches 1MB, anymore will be delayed until the next block. – John Henry Aug 28 '13 at 15:37
  • It's worth noting that 1 MB is the maximum block size, but typical blocks are smaller. More like 100 or 200 kB these days, is my impression. So the actual bandwidth needed will be less than your estimate. And in 2011 it was much less. – Nate Eldredge Aug 29 '13 at 1:21

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