Comcast Usage Meter Pilot

02 May 2010

I was surprised to find an e-mail in my inbox from Comcast pitching their new Usage Meter. It’s just what you would expect from the name: a website to see how much bandwidth you’ve used so far this month. The bulk of the text follows:

We are pleased to announce the pilot launch of the Comcast Usage Meter in your area. This new feature is available to Comcast High-Speed Internet customers and provides an easy way to check total monthly household high-speed Internet data usage at any time. Monthly data usage is the amount of data, such as images, movies, photos, videos, and other files that customers send, receive, download or upload each month. Comcast measures total data usage and does not monitor specific customer activities to determine data usage.

The current data usage allowance for the Comcast High-Speed Internet service is 250GB per month. This means that the vast majority of our customers – around 99% currently – will not come close to using 250GB of data in a month, and do not need to check the usage meter.

Heavy bittorrent users may rightfully complain about Comcast advertising “unlimited” when there is actually a 250GB cap on traffic. But I think this is a step in the right direction for Comcast, towards completely transparent usage plans. There will be no more fears of finding out your usage is beyond Comcast’s arbitrary limit by receiving a nastygram canceling your service.

Soon you’ll be able to check your usage and compare to their monthly cap. If you go over, perhaps Comcast will offer a higher bandwidth plans at extra cost. How do you advertise “more than unlimited”? I’ll leave that to Comcast’s marketing team to figure out.

Why wasn’t this available long before they started canceling users’ service or slowing downloads? My guess is this was their escape plan for continuing to restrict heavy users despite the FCC’s move towards Net Neutrality. What does that mean in light of the appeals court ruling overturning the FCC’s authority over Net Neutrality?

According to the e-mail this is only a pilot restricted to a few areas – with the FCC out of the picture, will Comcast have any incentive to be this transparent with their users? Or will they return to their old tricks of secret caps and traffic throttling?

This entry was posted on 02 May 2010 and is filed under Tech Support.

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