Are You Ready for Metered Internet?

If you had asked me a few days ago, how much I download and upload each day, I’d have had no idea. Apparently some cable companies in the USA are testing metered internet service. I haven’t seen this mentioned for Canadian companies, but if it works in Texas, it will probably arrive here soon enough. If you know your current usage, you’ll be able to select the best plan for your needs.

To measure your daily transfer rates, you can download the free utility, NetMeter. I installed it last week, which went very smoothly. The icon sits in the system tray, and you can click on it to see a graph of your current usage.

Right-click on the system tray icon, to change the options, or to view your totals and projected totals.

You can also view Daily, Weekly and Monthly reports, and export them as csv files. Open the exported files in Excel, and you can create your own chart, reports and pivot tables from the data.

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9 Responses

  1. Nick Hodge says:

    Debra

    We’ve (I’ve) had this for some time now. My service used to be unlimited but they encouraged me to downgrade at a competitive price. I have been on it for over a year now and every so often I get an email saying I am approaching 50%. I have for fairly heavy users at home (me most of all) and we have a service capped at 25gb. Looking a few minutes ago, I had used 5.04gb (13 days in).

    I suspect they are protecting themselves for the inevitable streaming video revolution.

  2. Thanks Nick, I think you’re right. I exchange some pretty big files with clients, upload stuff to my site and blog, and do lots of browsing, errr, research.

    Looks like 25GB would be enough for me too, and I hope that I don’t have to worry about it any time soon!

  3. JP says:

    I wonder how this relates to net neutrality and the recent FCC ruling against Comcast. I agree with charging for bandwidth, but doesn’t it seem like a loophole in the ruling? “We can’t slow down BitTorrent traffic, but we can charge you extra for it”

    –JP

  4. Dave says:

    If more and more people start watching shows/movies via IPTV (or Amazon’s Unbox or whatever), then I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more people start thinking that they don’t need cable tv.

    And since lots of people use their cable provider as their ISP, those cable companies will have to get their money somewhere else.

    I’m guessing metering will arrive about as quickly as consumers start dropping their pay per view/movie on demand/cable tv signal.

  5. Tim Mayes says:

    Anybody else remember, back in the day (the glorious 1980’s), when we used to have to pay by the minute? CompuServe was one of the very few choices back then and it was costly. Heck, I used to pay $0.05 (on top of connection charges) just to get a single stock quote for a company. To get a decent stock price history was really expensive.

    Eventually, Prodigy and AOL came along and things got cheaper. Then they realized that people didn’t like paying by the minute and started offering “all you can eat” plans. Then this thing called the Internet came along, competition increased further, and prices fell more.

    I don’t think that we’ll see any capped plans (in the US) anytime soon. If we do, the caps aren’t likely to affect many customers. At least I hope I’m right. :-)

  6. MJ Ray says:

    Capped plans are common in the UK. There are also some dishonest ISPs advertising uncapped services that have “fair use terms” or similar that let them charge you extra, rate-limit or terminate your service if you use it too much.

  7. MJ Ray says:

    Oh and a quick mention that using a desktop rate monitor isn’t great if you have more than one computer. Our ISP http://www.ttllp.co.uk/phone (aff) has a control panel that lets you see what the ISP thinks the usage is – after all, that’s what matters.

  8. Tim, I remember paying by the minute, and trying to get things done as quickly as possible, so we didn’t use up all our monthly allocation. And I hope you’re right about capped plans, for Canada too.
    MJ Ray, good point about monitoring one computer. This just gives me an idea about the use on the main machine. I’d want to see the ISP reading if I had a capped plan.

  9. Tim Mayes says:

    MJ Ray, those “hidden caps” are in full effect in the US. Comcast won’t reveal what their caps are (apparently quite generous, though) and they may be variable. As far as I can tell, you’d pretty much have to be downloading a ton DVD’s each month to be affected. From what I’ve heard, they will send a warning letter and then cancel your account if you don’t reduce usage. This is certainly a cap, but only the very worst offenders are affected. Anyway, bandwidth is relatively cheap to add on. Certainly cheaper than having a high customer churn rate, and subscriber acquisition costs are quite high. That’s why I don’t think that any caps that are imposed (if any) will be a problem for most users.

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