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Bell Admits Their Usage Meter Is Broken
Who Exactly Ensures These Meters Work Properly?
by Karl Bode 12:07PM Wednesday Feb 09 2011
We've long noted that while ISPs are eager to begin charging users significant per gigabyte overages, proving that they can accurately track user consumption has been a consistent problem. You'll recall that when Cogeco first implemented significant per gigabyte overages, the company's meters were plagued with errors. Other companies eager to bill by the byte have struggled with similar problems. Here in the States, at least one trial (AT&T) was scrapped in part because getting all the consumption tracking and billing systems in place would have been exorbitantly expensive.

Now Bell, with more than a little irony considering they are the primary pusher of usage-based billing on the Canadian landscape, has come out and admitted that they've struggled with accurately tracking consumer usage as well. Our users have noted in our forums that Bell's meter is busted, with users who have only used a few gigs suddenly being told they've well-exceeded their 25 GB monthly limit. A notice on Bell's website confirms that the company is having problems tracking usage accurately:
Please note that we have identified an issue that may cause Internet usage shown on the site to be overstated in some cases. In order to ensure we provide reliable information to all our clients, the usage tracker will be unavailable while we resolve the issue. We apologize for the inconvenience.
All of this again raises the question we've asked before: who exactly outside of the ISPs is ensuring meters are accurate? The answer is: nobody. In their efforts to help Bell get this kind of pricing implemented, it apparently never crossed the CRTC's mind to create some kind of system whereby ISP meter accuracy is tested and verified. ISPs consistently talk about how they should be allowed to price bandwidth just like electrical utilities, but you'd be hard pressed to find an ISP that's willing to be regulated like a utility and have consistent meter inspections.

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