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Will Comcast’s (and other’s) metered usage backfire?

December 1st, 2009

Much ado today on the internets regarding Comcast’s trial of metered usage in Portland.

Here’s my $0.02 (and then some).

The idea behind this is to identify (and punish) the high bandwidth users. Comcast (and other broadband companies) have skated by for years on this “bucket-of-bits” concept where you buy a bucket of bits (we’ve all seen the UPTO 16MB commercials). This is a whole additional discussion which I don’t want to get into here, but in short I refer to that advertisement as fraudband.

So with this bucket-of-bits concept you pay a monthly fee for a connection and you use it as much as you want. The problem is that the *more* you use it, the *less* the provider makes for your usage. This is an upside down business model and I’ve tried to think of other companies that are incented to sell you a product that you shouldn’t use (help me out by commenting if you know of a successful business model that follows this upside down paradigm (and don’t say cell phone companies)).

What they are doing by opening this door is saying that your monthly fee (let’s say it’s $34.99) is good for upto 250GB of usage. If you exceed this amount you will get less traffic or have to pay an additional fee. But what happens for those *good* broadband users who don’t use their allocated 250GB? Do they get to a refund on the unused portion of their bits? How about roll-over bits?

If the formula is $34.99 for upto 250GB of data … can I pay upto $34.99 for what I actually use?

I work from home and as such am probably one of the heavier users. I also watch Netflix on demand on my TV via my TivoHD XL. I rent online movies from Amazon as well. I use Vonage. I don’t do it regularly (as it makes my VoIP phone almost unusable), but I have been known to share files via P2P and download a lot of content from non P2P sites as well.

My guess is that I’m a heavier user and that I’d exceed the upto usage, but when I don’t I will be doing everything I can to get credited for what I didn’t use in a particular month.

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