How not to blow your download limit at the iTunes Store

iTunes Store TV.jpg
The news earlier this week that Apple was finally selling TV shows through the Australian iTunes Store was welcome for people keen to legally purchase and download television using the familiar and well-regarded iTunes interface. But as several readers have pointed out in emails, downloading shows will use up much more bandwidth than music. With virtually all Australian ISPs enforcing some sort of bandwidth cap, what tactics can you use to minimise the impact of a spate of TV downloading? See our suggestions after the jump.

Check file sizes before you buy. iTunes includes an option to show download sizes; right-click on the episode you want and select Get Info. There's a size field on the Summary tab, although we couldn't find many examples currently in the store that accurately displayed this information before purchase. You can also see file sizes in the download window. As a guide, an episode of South Park takes up 180MB.
See if your ISP includes iTunes downloads. Although it's not common, some ISPs do exempt iTunes purchases from the monthly bandwidth quota, iiNet being the most visible example. If you regularly download video, that could represent a big saving. (This might also happen with the iPhone once local plans are revealed, as Apple has experimented with similar schemes in the US, although you won't be able to fit much television on it in any event due to space constraints.)
Use your off-peak download cap. Many ISPs offer an increased download limit for activity outside of peak hours. While you can't schedule iTunes to begin downloads at a particular time, you can commence downloading during the off-peak periods if you don't want to urgently watch a show during the day. (Allow plenty of time; the iTunes servers aren't particularly fast in our experience.)
Check the DVD options. At $2.99 an episode, there's quite a high price to be paid for convenience in downloading. For older shows, buying a season box set will almost certainly be cheaper than excess download fees if you're on a plan that charges for excess. This is less of an issue for people who get their speed shaped after they reach their cap, but the inconvenience still may not be worth it.


Comments

    Again this highlights the shortcomings of the Australian way of doing the Internet. I've opted for a higher end Bigpond service which offers 30Mbs speeds, and I can get that for Australian sites. But at that rate the meager 25GB cap for a family of 5 can go very quickly.

    We cannot participate in the Video Internet with these caps. It just doesn't work.

    Well I've downloaded several TV programs and a new music album since the announcement of TV show availability and the speed has been impressive, as it usually is using iTunes. I was expecting large TV video files to take much longer to download than they did.

    The subject of download limits is however a real problem for us here in Australia, it's time all the ISPs woke up and realised that by pushing such stingy limits they're only hurting the take up of broadband and their future business prospects. Drop the ludicrous 200/400 MB limits and start offering reasonably priced 15-30GB plans along with some 50+GB ones too. Pretty soon (presumably) the iTunes store will be offering feature length movies at several GB a pop, and without such limit increases it'll be totally impractical to use.

    $2.99 an episode?!?!?!? Why do Australian's always get inflated prices on Apples products? $2.99 is 150% of what the HIGHEST american store price is for TV shows. I guess they have to keep things consistent, like the $1.69 per track price.

    I'm with Comcen and have unlimited download but only at a speed of 23kps, so i download all day. I can download 180mb in under 3 hours, so it's slow but unlimited. I used Whirlpool to find my perfect ISP.

    Let's face it, while places like Europe and America can recieve high speeds with no cap, and much cheaper services. Australian ISP's are just milking us for revenue!
    Sly ISP TV adverts prey on those that have absolutely no idea about how bandwidth works, then sell them a crap deal which has all sorts of ludicrous hidden costs after going over your measly 2gig bundled with your home phone.

      The grass is always greener... I live in the U.S. in the Silicon Valley -- the tech center of the world! We have the *worst* Internet service imaginable. Yes, it is "unlimited" but during peak hours, the speeds are unusable. You often can't watch Netflix or Hulu Plus. Steve Wozniak is moving to Australia because the ISPs are so bad here. They're not cheap either -- I pay $50 a month for a service, and I'm lucky to get 1.5 Mbps during peak hours. Off peak, I can get 6-8 Mbps.

      Now, if you live in somewhere other than the Silicon Valley, Internet speeds are better. People here are too tech savvy -- Instagramming pictures of the big dump they just took. It's a bit too much...

    I'm not advising you do this but you do know you can purchase US itunes cards on ebay for a slightly inflated price. This allows you to use the US itunes store which has more content and cheaper prices (the cheaper prices more than account for the slight inflated price you pay for the card).

    Does iTunes/Apple peer with any Aussie peering services? Pipe Wiax?

    iTunes uses Akamai to distribute a lot of it's content. iiNet has Akamai hardware in it's datacenter(s), and as iiNet peer with PIPE and WAIX, these services are visible to other PIPE/WAIX peering ISPs.

    I just wrote a how-to article on scheduling iTunes 11 downloads:

    http://www.appledystopia.com/how-to/schedule-itunes-downloads-page-1/

    It's a bit of a Rube Goldberg process, but not that hard to set up. It's re-usable. It will wake your Mac and resume downloads at any time you desire.

    It used to be easier to do this, but iTunes 11 requires authentication, even when downloading content you have already purchased.

    It looks like Australians tend to have ISPs that encourage off-peak downloading and limit peak usage. In the U.S., most ISPs are "unlimited" but are really quite un-usable during peak hours. I see Internet speeds cut down to 10% during peak hours. Perhaps y'all are on to something....

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