Who Will Monitor And Audit Broadband Metering?

from the questions,-questions dept

With all the recent talk of metered broadband, there are some questions raised: such as how will the usage actually be metered? As that report notes, broadband providers should not be allowed to meter the broadband themselves, because that represents an obvious conflict of interest — and when it comes to things like electricity and gas pumps, regulations require third party inspectors or equipment to make sure that the meters are accurate and not subject to tampering by the company. So wouldn’t broadband require the same thing?

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Comments on “Who Will Monitor And Audit Broadband Metering?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Self-loading sound and videos that can be stopped from playing but not from loading, image sets that preload for your “convenience,” 99% of email (spam, as you said), push updates, software that insists on calling home, web pages with unauthorized drive-by malware (trojans, adware, and the like) and the communications the ISP itself embeds, also come to mind as items we can’t control and shouldn’t have to pay for.
The power company can only occasionally push a surge to pop our peak consumption meter, without getting caught, and the water company can’t make us use more water than we are willing to accept, but not so with ISP.
Why do we have to pay for phone calls we receive from spammers? I have stopped answering my phone at all, anymore (unless someone I want to speak with makes an appointment) because the bogus automobile warranties and security systems were using all my minutes.

bob says:


For that matter, is there a regulatory body behind metered mobile minutes? I don’t believe there is.

Maybe they treat utilities differently. Should “data” be just another utility along with water, electricity, gas and sewer? Although, it isn’t exactly a natural monopoly like the others since it’s hard to get them wirelessly.

nasch says:

Re: Re:

Broadband has been metered for years here, by the ISP, and we’ve seen no problems at all.

Perfect choice of words. You have seen no problems… that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. A smart and unethical ISP would overbill everyone just slightly. So little that not only would it be almost impossible to notice, it would be difficult to prove even if anyone did notice. If it’s a big ISP they could rake in some serious extra cash when considering all their customers, and never even be suspected.

I’m not saying it’s happened, just that without independent auditing, how do you know it hasn’t?

Luís Carvalho (profile) says:

2 excelent points above.

It will be a lot more serious the Wireless theft, that is quite easy to do. And everyone will feel a lot more inclined to learn how to do it after being a victim of it.

Maybe that will be the death of a great technology, Wireless. Or, they will step up and create a better security, that will be cracked later, and so on.

The point is, if and when your internet is metered, what will you stop doing? What are the sites you will never go? What will you do about e-mail? What about internet radio? What about daily AV updates? What about IM?

Everything online is going to wither and possibly die, because you will start measuring it’s value in actual $$ based on bandwidth. We will go back to text browsers to reduce the traffic, and basically fall back to 1994/1995 browsing.

I would simply remove all extras from Firefox, wouldn’t use YouTube, stop using social networks, and would go back to some text browser, to filter all images. What a sad way to be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It will be a lot more serious the Wireless theft, that is quite easy to do.

I hadn’t heard of WPA2 being broken. You need to cite some references if you’re going around making claims like that.

We will go back to text browsers to reduce the traffic, and basically fall back to 1994/1995 browsing.

Sure. Like everyone uses kerosene lanterns to avoid electric metering. Get real.

Luís Carvalho (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Just a quick search on Google: WPA2 Cracked

Today, everything in internet is planned on the broadband, limitless traffic. Of course, some people use it, others don’t.

My usage of internet, is based on unmettered traffic. I have an average 400gb traffic per month. I know that some people manage to use only 1 or 2 gb. Those, of course, are in no risk. As long as they keep NOT using all the net has to offer. But, is their choice obviously.

To anyone that actualy does use, any kind of limit, is a problem. You’ll have to keep looking at your traffic, avoiding excesses, and, in the whole, having a worse experience.

BTW, wireless theft, is not a future problem, it’s happening already. It will get a lot worse, and troublesome, if you don’t have a limitless connection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just a quick search on Google: WPA2 Cracked

From one of those results: “Brute Force Attack will take up to 128299838271 years”. That’s not exactly what I’d call “cracked”.

The truth is, WPA2 has not been cracked. But that’s why you didn’t cite any sources, isn’t it? And a Google search isn’t a source. After all, a Google search on Luís Carvalho is a pedophile returns thousands of hits, but does that make it true?

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I hadn’t heard of WPA2 being broken. You need to cite some references if you’re going around making claims like that.

while wpa2 uses AES crypto (256bit i believe, same as the military uses for classified documents) it’s still a password challenge, and is therefore vulnerable to brute force attacks.

there are other attacks as well, such as fake AP/evil twin attacks, where you impersonate the AP to gather credentials or serve as a man in the middle.

Chargone says:

I’d just like to note that NZ has ALWAYS had metered broadband, and it has caused none of the issues mentioned above by Luís Carvalho, to the best of My knowledge and certainly in my case, save a tendency to avoid youtube etc in the last few days of the month if approaching the cap, and that’s only because our ISP charges us more for another chunk of data when we go over the cap. Most just drop your speed back towards dial up depending on actual traffic, last i checked.

the caps, while possibly pointless and unfair, are not actually a major disaster if managed properly, and even if done poorly are probably not going to bring about the end of the digital world as we know it.

please note that this is in no way supporting a move to caps when there is no physical need for it. if the infrastructure will support it and the pricing is fair, unlimited is Good, and losing it is a sad thing.

Chargone (profile) says:

hum. don’t see an edit button with my colour settings as they are [sometimes buttons decide to be background, so it may be there for all i know :S] and i forgot to mention something above:

the people who meter the broadband use here are the ISPs. that said, there’s no monopolies [so far as i can tell, a non-national ISP is a rarity. of course, as always, i may well be wrong, and NZ is rather a lot smaller than the USA :D] at that level of the system, and you can always go through the consumer complaints tribunal [i think that’s the one?] or other appropriate part of the system if you’re getting screwed over.

or Fair Go. that’s usually amusingly effective [public shame on national television does remarkable things for shaping up policy, it seems :D]

dvnt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Note to self do not move to NZ. Metered broadband? I have metered broadband when I use my phone as a modem. But actual broadband? Wow! you are handicapped from playing MMO´s social networks, etc, etc. Again I dont see Europe doing this as everyone is outfitted with fiber optics to your home and have an average speed of 12/12mb. Unless you are like me who wants that extra 100/100 for only a few dollars more. I just feel that Chargone, you are being deprived of being able to fully surf the internet.

Chargone says:

Re: Re: Re:

actually, no. MMOs, it’s SPEED that matters, the actual data transfer’s pretty low, and the speed is constantly improving. that said, fiber optics are not yet universal. [and the fact that our MMO’s almost all use USA servers and thus the data has to go through the big undersea cables anyway is a bigger deal]

data cap on my current plan is 20 gig. only reason we EVER hit that is because we have 3-4 people using it for MMOs, web browsing, and my brother downloads video All the Time.
[we also have free to air, state funded (and non-state funded) television. cable is a New thing, existing purely(last i checked) as an alternative delivery method for satellite and air…]

and you Can get a ‘no data cap’ plan. it just costs a lot.
unlike in the USA or probably Europe, actual traffic congestion on our internet services is a legit problem sometimes here. if for no other reason than that EVERYTHING, near enough, goes through those under sea cables.
social networks? no problem there. well, except for the STUPID pages that insist they absolutely must load music every single time you click a link. but again, that’s transfer rate, not data cap.

if the caps are high enough, and the rates set properly compared to them, and the SPEED is not affected [at least, not as long as you’re under t he cap] it seriously does not impact use at all. you pay for the cap appropriate to your usage. [it actually SAVES you money if your usage is low enough, if the system is designed properly]

that said, i have no faith in US corporate entities with monopolies [or near monopolies] ability to set sucht hings properly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Third Parties

and when it comes to things like electricity and gas pumps, regulations require third party inspectors or equipment to make sure that the meters are accurate and not subject to tampering by the company.

Everywhere I have ever lived the gas and electric meters were actually provided, tagged and read by the the utility companies themselves. I’ve never seen utility metering done by third parties so I don’t know what you’re talking about there.

dvnt (profile) says:


I think that this is the most stupidest idea ever put forth, I think its more so targeted for the torrent downloaders. Its a good thing that I live abroad in Europe and have a 100/100mb fiber line going to my personal home. This is a demstration of how bad the economy is getting and how the CEO´s of the broadband providers are trying to think up of ways to fatten their pockets. Don´t get me wrong if the metering is for testing purposes for future upgrades in the system in the given area then I think its a great idea, but to hire a third party to meter it?

I agree with zFrogz if this happens then there should be a regulation for the content that is being streamed. However, I see this as a lose-lose situation as its going to come up that the advertisment, adbanners, etc. etc. is not the responsibility of the broadband company but the responsibility of the site provider. and I eventually see this being a downturn in the internet period.

Again, good to be living abroad than in the kool-aid loving country known as America.

aikanae says:


Oh boy. Get to watch another industry perform suicide. Caps are ridiculous – esp. what I heard AT&T proposed at first – 40GB’s/mth. With Netflix and others offering streaming movies online, I agree that this will push the industry back decades. And will take a lot of commerce along with it. People don’t have endlessly deep pocket books anymore. Half of this is some broadband ISP’s are worried people are discontinuing their cable TV and watching it online instead.

There is no alternative in the area I live. If I want medium speed, I have a choice of one provider. They can charge $1k a month or I have to go back to dial-up. I’m not rural. I’m in the heart of the fifth largest city.

As it is, I’m supporting TV without subscribing. The cost of what I do have is almost 3/4th’s of their bundled package with 250 HD stations and landline phone – which I don’t want. It’s like what the old phone companies used to do with long distance prices.

Broadband is as essential as a phone anymore. I would be more open to caps if there was some competition, but there isn’t.

zcat says:

Just a followup to other comments here

The plan I’m on is a fixed charge for the connection and $1 per gig for traffic. I average about 20G per month which includes plenty of youtube, second life, facebook, and a few Ubuntu isos every six months. The alternative, since New Zealand has limited international capacity, would be internet that crawls along at less than dialup speed and is uselsss for any realtime use, while a few selfish bastards torrent everything they can. I know this because a while back my provider was foolish enough to provide a ‘torrent’ plan with 200G of free traffic after 10PM and that’s exactly what happened. It’s taken them months to sort out traffic shaping on the torrent plans enough that the rest of us can have some useable bandwidth left over.

ASM says:


Question: is not Tier level pricing based on speed- Metering?
Why does there have to be both? If I opt for a slow connection
I would not be downloading Movies, etc…..the day would be over before I got back to it. As well a slower speed lessens the load on the network, right? Higher speeds invite a higher load? Tier level pricing already exists here in the States.
The ONLY reason I can see for Data capping is GREEEEED.
We have seen what happens to the economy when Corporate gets TOO Greedy. Also, would not Advertisers push their wares even more, so everyone would get the best AD’s before they hit their limit? Cynical, yes, likely, yes. Besides, data caps limit the ability of services built on the web.
Services on the web is a major reason we even use it.
ISP’s need to get their money from the services that eat up
bandwidth, not each and every consumer being surcharged for
the FEW % who would abuse bandwidth.

zcat says:

Re: Metering

I have to totally disagree with that. If I was ‘rate limited’ to the equivalent of 20G per month I’d be crawling along at about 20kbps here. That would really, really suck. I like having a 10mbps connection. I can watch a youtube video without buffering, or grab a linux CD in about half an hour, and the easiest way to make people pay for what they actually use is to _make people pay for what they actually use_ .. If I use 20G in a month I pay for that. If someone else wants to torrent 500G of movies they’re using 25 times as much of the capacity as I do, and they should pay 25 times as much for it. That seems perfectly fair to me.

zcat says:

Of course if you’re the guy that likes to torrent 500G or more of movies every month, you probably don’t want to pay anywhere near what it actually costs and would rather have everybody just pay more, so that guys like me subsidize the cost of your connection.

Also of course, in countries like America that aren’t way out in the middle of nowhere it’s probably not going to cost $1 per gig, it ought to be a lot cheaper. But the principle is the same; the guys who use most of the bandwidth damn well should pay most of the cost, and the people who use very little should end up paying very little.
And how anyone can think this concept ‘unfair’ is very difficult for me to comprehend.

Chronno S. Trigger says:

Re: Re:

First, It sounds like you really need to jump on your ISP to upgrade their network. It’s not that expensive, and it’s getting cheaper every day.

Second, It costs the ISP just as much money for a user to use 1M a month as it douse for another user to use 100G a month. The ISPs don’t pay for the bits, it doesn’t cost $0.05 to create a 1, and the nodes and hubs never go into standby so they don’t ever save on electricity ether.

I could understand a cap if it’s like the electric company and it costs them more to produce more but it doesn’t cost to create a bit.

hegemon13 says:

Re: Re:

I would agree to an extent, except history shows that it won’t work that way, at least here in the US. The caps have not lowered broadband cost at all for the users who use less. They have only raised the price of the truly unlimited plans to absurd levels. If it were actually balanced, with the light users actually paying less than they used to, I could understand the ISPs’ position a little better. Instead, they just reveal themselves as the greedy, selfish corporate pigs that they are and have always been.

Simon says:

Video Podcasts

I started to download a video podcast from iTunes a couple of days ago – I thought it sounded interesting and was going to see if I liked it. However once it started downloading I realized it was almost 1GB in size. Be on capped broadband, I decided to skip it rather than eat into my allowance.

This is exactly the behavior the incumbent providers want… no doubt they are hoping that instead of enjoying my free content, I was watching subscription TV.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lack of Competition

In the US we are lucky if we have a choice of two crappy service providers for our internet access – Cable TV provider and the Phone Company.

In the case of using the phone company naked DSL is just now becoming available. Naked DSL being a connection without a home phone service. Why should those of us that chose not to have a home phone or to use VoIP be forced to pay for a service we don’t want. Not to mention the generally lower speeds available through DSL.

The other option we may have is from out cable TV provider. Cable is one of the worst rated industries. In the case of using a cable company I have elected to purchase the highest speed they offer. I get my internet connection with TV service for $80 a month or I can get my internet without TV service also for $80 a month. I have no need for their TV service (I am very happy with my SAT provider) but if I am paying for it I might as well get it.

With my already being forced to subsidize other parts of their business I should not also be limited by a bandwidth cap. Sure I am currently below the cap but data usage grows on a yearly basis and I don’t see these companies adjusting their caps.

Not to mention that the caps strangle innovation.

Until there is real reform to our telecom industry including the opening up of competition these companies should not be allowed to implement caps and other restrictions as they see fit.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Only the Beginning

Excellent observation and one that I had overlooked. We already have some indications of what metering would mean.

Cellphone user shocked by charges of $85K

Man gets $27,000 phone bill after watching Bears game on web

Also, as has been pointed out by others, would we have to pay for spam, advertising, and other unwanted content that is forceably delivered without our consent?

Anonymous Coward says:

well you already have cap 30 days*24 hours*3600 *Connection speed.

1Mb connection has a cap of 316GB download per month.
so when you pay a speed you are getting a cap.

So if they sell you a 10Mb line with a 316GB download cap per month the are selling you a 10Mb line that you can only fully use 3 days a month.

With only one internet user the thing can workout, think about a household with two parent an a couple teenager
the bill the month that the teens discovered the video conferencing in ichat and spend all the time sending two video feeds to 2 of their friends each.


Chargone says:

you know, i have NEVER understood why on earth (some?) US phone companies charge the person RECEIVING the call. it makes no sense unless it’s one of those ‘reversed charges’ kind of things, and even then you’d expect to be asked, one way or another, if you wanted to accept it or not first.

what one’s used to really does change what one thinks is reasonable, doesn’t it?
[also, telephone ‘spam’ here seems to be limited to occasional surveys by marketing departments, more common surveys by various political and governmental entities, and in lieu of door to door salesmen. (they ring up and spend 5-30 minutes trying to get you to let them show up to show you something, rather than just turning up on your doorstep. I’m not sure if that’s courteous or not. after all, on the phone, you Can just hang up on them if necessary, but answering interrupts in the first place, so what can ya do?]

… maybe it’s just my browsing habits and the fact that i use hotmail rather than the ISP based e-mail account [I’m not actually the account holder on this arrangement, and the account holder barely uses it. additionally our ISP’s spam filters are pretty good], but it’s very rare i run into the stuff that the AC above mentions that one shouldn’t have to pay for.

that said, it pisses me off when i do run into it too 🙂 and do you really want your ISP checking out WHAT you’re downloading so as to be able to NOT charge you for that sort of thing?

of course, it seems that the situation in the USA is [from the point of view of one who doesn’t live there :)] such that regulations seem to be hard to come by when they’d do any good, and over abundant when they make the situation worse, while the EU just seems to be full of layers of both getting in each others way. [not that I’ve really Studied either] it’s nice to know that, so far at least, for all the stuff ups they’ve made in other areas, our government has done a reasonable job of keeping a handle on the behaviour of the various telcos and ISPs etc.

Ben says:

Utility vs. Luxury

Isn’t this more of a question on whether broadband is an essential utility (electricity, water) or a nonessential service (telephony). Essential services are required to achieve a basic standard of living and are rightly subject to increased government scrutiny.

I’m in the US and am all for increased provider competition (where I can switch companies to escape caps) but do not think that broadband is an essential service yet. Despite exclusively receiving my news & entertainment from the web it will be tough to argue the internet is essential until broadcast TV stops.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Utility vs. Luxury

Isn’t this more of a question on whether broadband is an essential utility (electricity, water) or a nonessential service (telephony). Essential services are required to achieve a basic standard of living and are rightly subject to increased government scrutiny.

That argument doesn’t really fly. I know a guy who lives “off-grid” with solar cells, a backup generator, and well water. But you know what he can’t do without? An internet connection. So to him internet service is more essential than either electric or water utility service.

Rob says:

No to caps

Having lived in both a country with a cap (Australia) and without one (US) – I can appreciate the luxury of using broadband without having to worry of of my internet usage. In Australia I had a 20Gb/month limit (for a ludicrious $80/month), and I used it every single month. A 2 hour game of Battlefield 2 – 1GB. Half a day of surfing the Net at non-video sites – 300Mb – 500Mb. Why? Because they’d included in the cap all TRAFFIC, not just data that was downloaded. So if you had a MSN Messenger connection going, contastly checking for incoming data, that killed the cap. This was 2 years ago before Hulu and streaming online became more prevelant too.
I’m sure this was all in the fine print too, so was looked over really easily by your average user.

hegemon13 says:

Capacity vs scarcity

The big difference between bandwidth and other utilities is that bandwidth is not a scarce resource. Building a bigger pipeline will not magically produce more natural gas. Putting up large power lines will not magically produce more power. Putting in fiber and more powerful servers does produce more bandwidth, and there is no limit to how high it can go. While other utilities must meter to determine the usage of a scarce resource, bandwidth more closely resembles phone or cable, which can be upgraded infinitely by upgrading the infrastructure. There is no reason to start metering bandwidth now.

How would people feel if landline companies went back to charging them for every minute they spent on the phone? Or what if mobile carriers went back to charging by the minute for long distance? They would both hemorrhage customers and die. The only reason broadband metering is even possible is the monopoly/duopoly situation that exists almost everywhere in the US.

Turk says:

Re: Capacity vs scarcity

How would people feel if landline companies went back to charging them for every minute they spent on the phone? Or what if mobile carriers went back to charging by the minute for long distance? They would both hemorrhage customers and die.

Actually, that’s not at all true. Both landline and mobile carriers have different packages. If you only use a cell phone for limited calling, you can buy low minute plans. If you need the all you can eat model, they have unlimited plans.

Broadband would be no different. If you only want to check e-mail or see occasional pictures of the grandkids, you could buy the lowest tier. If you want to stream HD movies 24/7, then you’d need the unlimited plan.

This isn’t exactly a pricing model without precedent.

Average Dope says:

Metering…if they’re going to do it, might they actually provide a way for me to at least have some slim idea of how much I’m using?

Because right now I don’t. I shouldn’t have to download 3rd party programs to do so either.

I have no idea how much bandwidth I use a month, how much a Hulu’d show or this very site uses. I’m getting weary of being baffled with what is too often bullshit.

dvnt (profile) says:


I think bottom line putting a cap on broadband usage is just a way for ISP’s to make more money, I mean come on if they are suffering that bad, get a bail-out from Obama and then give out bonuses. I own a place in Hawaii and I dont know about NZ but there was no caps there, and the 4.3 million population on just one island used internet, and my speeds where about 9/2mbps. I moved to Europe and pay half the price for fiber optics and have a 100/100mbps. Now I also have 2 servers and 3 desktop machines as well as 2 laptops, and my average up is about 500-600gigs a month. Not to mention I am also doing a remote desktop link to my server in Hawaii so bandwidth varies. As far as wireless, no one has been able to successfully hack a secure WPA connection, and when I mean secure I am talking about using a Hex key and not one like “luisisanoob”. I know this because I build and test 128-256bit encryption algorithms

Panty Hamster says:

More Provider Choices Please

I don’t know about the rest of you around the world but here in the States we are limited as to the number of ISP providers in a geographic area. Because most providers only have one competitor in the areas they service its easy for them to set fixed prices that are very high for the quality of service offered. If i’m going to pay for metered bandwidth then i had better have the option of going with the best provider i can find and not be limited to the two who are allowed in my area.

I live in a large city in Southern California and the best internet connection i can get at the moment is 10/1 Mbps which cost almost $90 per month. That is crap compared to some of you who have dedicated fiber connection of 100/100 Mbps. If the United States is going to reclaim its leadership role around the world, then we need to start making fewer bombs and start investing in our technology infrastructure.

Anonymous Coward says:

here. DSL 6Mb down/756Kb up @ $35 (or) COMCRAPSTIC for $60 a month for 10Mb down/1Mb up, Throttled & Capped!

The day ComCrap capped my service was the day I dropped them. Looks like I’ll have to drop AT&T soon as well as they have been talking caps as well.

Im going to monitor it, and if I am not getting what I am paying for, I drop the ISP just like that!

Maybe soon Ill have no internet, but they aren’t going to take me on their Unlimited contract only to cap me later bullshit!

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