How people use their broadband connections will have changed immensely in the seven years broadband has been available in the UK. To this end, Ellacoya who manufacture a range of traffic management hardware has published some data they have collated, which can be read over on ISP-Planet.
It appears that just 5% of broadband users generate 45.3% of traffic, and a further 40% of users account for only 3.8% of traffic. Unfortunately the ISP-Planet item seems to label the heavier users as hogs, which is perhaps not the best phrase. While in the past it was probably clear that a lot of traffic was from sharing of copyrighted material via peer to peer (P2P) networks, things are rapidly changing as the Ellacoya research seems to show. VoIP traffic is on the increase, and online gaming, if the data is correct, has seen a massive explosion in use. Once you add the emerging audio/video streaming/download services like Sky Anytime, MSN Music and a host of other services, it is easy to see how usage patterns are moving away from just a little bit of bursty web browsing.
What is interesting for UK broadband users is the final paragraph which talks about US broadband providers cracking down on the heaviest users, with a search on BroadbandReports.com showing a number of stealth usage caps. Love them or hate them, caps in the form of easily visible usage allowances or more stealthy fair use policies (FUP) have been part of the UK broadband landscape for a couple of years. One advantage to the majority of consumers is that these policies have helped to drive prices down over a period of three years when wholesale prices have been relatively stable.