We were discussing the possible effect of increased broadband access to the Internet on bandwidth use in a different thread. I went away and did some research.
One of my Internet connections is supplied by ja.net who have been providing broadband access for UK universities and research establishments for many years.
One of their network adminstrators told me:
My best guess, from investigating
incidents that have shown up as a result of international charging, is that
the average user in an office or teaching lab behaves rather like the
average user elsewhere, only more so ... more files, more often.
Where behaviour does appear to change is where institutions wire up
student bedrooms. In this case, the existence of a connection that is
both always-on, and in the privacy of one's own room, has led to
incidents of behaviour that would never have occurred in an open office
(or most likely on a metered dial-up connection), such as running
servers for music/pirated software, or leaving adult online video channels
running for hours on end.
Thus it may be the case the biggest impact from broadband access to the home
such as ADSL will come not from the peak bandwidth increase, but from
the sustained use that becomes possible with unmetered always-on access.
This evidence is purely anecdotal but it does back up the projection that hosting plans with inclusive bandwidth will get more expensive, unless telecom prices comed down, because more of that bandwidth allocation will be getting used.