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As Predicted, Comcast Usage Meter Expands
Beta enters additional Pacific Northwest markets...
by Karl Bode 01:22PM Thursday Jan 14 2010
Just as an anonymous Comcast insider had stated, Comcast has expanded the availability of their bandwidth usage meter beta into additional markets in the Pacific Northwest. Previously the meter was only available in Portland, Oregon, but now users in a number of Comcast markets (including Bellingham and Spokane) say they're getting a letter informing them that the usage-meter beta has arrived. Comcast's meter is available through their Comcast portal, and the company claims independent testing found it to be accurate to within plus-or-minus 0.5% each month. Says the letter:
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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.
Well, unless Comcast decides they want to proceed to usage-based billing. You get the feeling that Comcast isn't putting all of this work into an accurate, independently-verified usage meter just to make sure that Joe and Nancy Smith are aware of a cap they'll never hit.

Rumblings have floated about for years that Comcast is interested in metered billing, but worried about consumer reaction and the ability to accurately meter usage. They've apparently solved the latter half of that equation -- but any ISP that still wants to impose lower caps and overages is well aware of what happened to Time Warner Cable last year. Customers have made it more than clear that they prefer the simplicity of flat-rate pricing (something companies like Cablevision say they agree with).

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