Why Your Broadband Meter Is Running Late

[qi:gigaom_icon_routers] As ISPs have introduced capped or metered broadband, the one element that’s been missing is the meter. Over at my old hometown newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, columnist Dwight Silverman points out that Comcast’s meter still isn’t ready, but is being tested in the homes of its employees. I chatted with Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman, about this issue last week, and was told that the problem is that not only does a meter need to be part of the modem or router itself, but it has to work with the multiple routers, end computers and other devices that may feed off the network. And it needs to be easy to use. All of which requires a lot of testing.

That’s a fairly daunting task, especially as we connect ever more devices to our home network. For example, measuring consumption used by my computer isn’t very helpful since I also stream a lot of content to a Roku set-top box inside my home, especially MLB.tv. There’s also game consoles, iPod touches and phones sucking up my home bandwidth. Meanwhile, all the extra consumption has led to a median use of 2-4 GB a month inside Comcast homes and a more representative consumption of 11.4 GB a month, on average, worldwide, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index figures released last week.

Since ISPs are champing at the bit to charge us based on our ever-increasing consumption, they’d better get those meters running.

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