Starting today, Comcast subscribers in the Portland OR pilot market area will begin receiving notifications that they can access a usage meter via their online accounts to help avoid data overage charges.
The meter will first show data usage being consumed in the current month. Over time, it will show the most recent three months of usage (including the current month).
As you can see, it's simple and easy and it should provide customers with helpful information about their overall bandwidth consumption. We've found that even some of the most technically savvy people have very little information or understanding about their monthly data usage. We believe many will be surprised by how little data they actually consume.
The meter displays usage on a per Gigabyte (GB) basis, over a calendar month, which may be different from the customer's monthly billing period cycle. The meter updates roughly every 3 hours and is designed to display usage conservatively and in favour of customers, such that it rounds DOWN usage to the nearest GB rather than rounding up.
It's important to underscore that almost 99% of our customers should not be concerned about their monthly data usage or ever crossing our 250 GB per month excessive usage threshold. The median customer consumes approximately 2 to 4 GB of data in a month.
For the fraction of less than 1% of our customers who are concerned about exceeding our excessive use threshold, this meter will help them monitor and calibrate their usage. It may also help them identify potential problems such as the presence of a bot or virus or excessive use of their bandwidth via an unsecured wireless router.
What's unique about this meter is that it measures all data usage over a cable modem. So, if a customer is using multiple computers and other devices, such as an online gaming console, laptop, or additional wireless devices (such as an iPod Touch), the meter will report data usage for all of those computers and devices combined.
This development has been a long time coming for Comcast power users who have been relying on third party bandwidth meters in an attempt to avoid exceeding the monthly 250 GB data cap. Unfortunately, trials have to wrap up in Portland before Comcast starts rolling it out nationally. [Comcast]