Australian Bandwidth Cost – Still Too Expensive for Community Sites

Overclockers.com.au Spotted this discussion thread yesterday at OCAU, one of the biggest community forums in Australia. Agg posted about OCAU’s hosting changes:

As you may be aware we’ve been very kindly hosted by AusGamers for a few years now. Unfortunately due to changes beyond their control they can no longer host us, so we have to relocate the site by early next month…

If you read through the discussion thread, for the last couple of years OCAU has been hosted at the now-defunct Comindico content network for free through the courtesy of AusGamers. It’s mostly vBulletin + other scripts providing wiki, image sharing, etc. It is also doing around 2,000GB of data transfer per month, which is not surprising for a community forum of that size and nature. Now they are forced to move out from their current rack and need to find a new home. 90% of visitors are from various ISPs in Australia, and as of this Saturday OCAU will move to… The Planet!

The main reason? Bandwidth cost in Australia is just too prohibitive for high traffic community sites, whom traditionally receive comparatively low revenue/traffic from advertising or sponsorship. I read that the cheapest transit cost would be around AUD$1.10/GB single homed. When you multiple that to 2TB — we are talking about some serious hosting fee for a website that gets probably only a few hundred thousand page views per day, and we are not yet even onto the hardware and data centre costs.

Scanning through a list of big forums/community sites in Australia, looks like you either have to find a hosting company to sponsor you (Whirlpool sponsored by Bulletproof Network for example), or you must be part of a much bigger content network (Vogue Forums on News Ltd, Essential Baby Forums on Fairfax for example). Even with sponsorship — you just do not know when the relationship will break and what to do when you need to pay for your own traffic cost.

My Australia-focused site seems to be like a small fish in comparison to some of those much bigger communities. It will do around 225GB this month, and it is currently hosted at Linode in Fremont — USD$39.95/month is how much I am paying now with plenty of room to grow. For a similar sized VPS with the same amount of monthly traffic, I’ll be looking at at least AUD$200/month from a reputable provider to be just enough, more if my site continues to grow this year.

I guess I will stay in Linode for a bit longer then.