If You're Going To Meter Or Cap Broadband, Shouldn't You Provide A Meter?

from the where's-the-problem? dept

With various ISPs implementing forms of capped or metered broadband, you would think it would be standard (if not required) that they also provide consumers with the tools to measure their consumption. Otherwise it seems a bit unfair to say you can only use x amount, but you have no way to know when you've actually done so. But, it seems that hasn't really stopped various ISPs. News.com is noticing that despite capping broadband connections at 250 gigs/month for many months (and rumors and screenshots of it), Comcast still refuses to deliver a broadband monitoring solution for users. If that's the case, it makes you wonder how accurate/reliable its own internal monitors are, and how it can guarantee that users actually get the 250 gigs they're promised. Perhaps I'm missing something, but is it really that difficult to measure broadband usage? If so, that would seem to be yet another reason that ISPs might want to stay away from metered broadband: the cost of developing a system to actually track it.

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  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 25 Jul 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re: They should invest in more streets, than in traffic cops

    I think you're right. Of the two options you list, I think it's just that putting in a meter solution takes some time, and some money. You have to:

    - meter each user
    - get that data into a telco-grade database
    - develop a real-time database update data feed from meters
    - develop systems that trigger actions at certain events like overage
    - change marketing
    - develop web pages for user self-support
    - develop notification systems like email and SMS
    - get an SMS partner to deliver messages
    - have a call center trained to handle inquiries, remediation
    - have a system to implement repercussions, like throttling
    - integrate all of this

    This is a real project, and not trivial. It costs money, it takes time. It is, however, the kind of things that ISPs, telcos, and MSOs do (in their slow, plodding manner). What is actually more likely to happen is that most of them will carry on stumbling as they are, until a nimble vendor (billing company, throttling company, etc.) sells them on a complete solution. Then they'll skip to the integration step.

    In short, it's totally doable, it's not prohibitively expensive, but don't expect turtles to move like hares.

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