Comcast has begun offering Internet usage meters to customers across its footprint.

In December 2009, Comcast offered Internet usage meters to some of its customers in its Portland, OR, system on a trial basis. That trial was expanded to Seattle in January.

The technology will be available in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts within the next few weeks, with Minnesota, Texas, Utah and Colorado next, said Charlie Douglas, spokesman for Comcast.

“The meter goes out on a CMTS-basis,” said Douglas. “It is not ubiquitously available to 100 percent of the people in that market.”

He said the meter is available to Internet customers served by Cisco CMTS, first.

The bit-counter is a software-based technology that customers can access through a Web portal. When the meter is available in a market, Comcast sends subscribers an e-mail with instructions on how to access it. The online portal will show customers their usage over a three-month period.

(Ed note: Usage is generally counted in bytes; the standard formula is 1 byte = 8 bits.)

Douglas said Comcast is providing the meter as a service to its customers. From Internet forums, “We saw folks were asking for ways to measure their data usage,” he said.

The meter software was developed internally at Comcast with the help of some vendors, which the company is not disclosing.

In October 2008, Comcast set a usage cap of 250 gigabytes (GB) per month.

“For most people they have nothing to be concerned about their data usage,” Douglas said. “Our median customer uses two to four gigabytes a month.”

The meter only counts bits and doesn’t know what those bits are being used for, whether movies, music, games or something else.

Douglas said the company does call customers who exceed the 250 GB limit to see what’s going on. Sometimes their computer is infected with a bot.

Comcast hired NetForecast to do an independent analysis on the accuracy of the meter.

–Linda Hardesty

The Daily

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