About Those Faulty Broadband Meters: None of Them Are Used to Track Usage Limits

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A story on GigaOm today suggested that there is a serious problem with the usage meters that certain Internet service providers are using to track the amount of bits their customers are using.

According to the story, NetForecast -- a Charlottesville, Va.-based company that certain ISPs use to audit their usage-monitoring processes -- found that five out of seven of its client ISPs had usage meters that were more than 1% off the mark in measuring actual usage.

Sounds pretty grave, right? Problem is: Not one of those five ISPs is currently using those meters today to enforce data-usage limits, NetForecast president Peter Sevcik told me. In other words, they are in testing or perhaps merely informational -- presumably, with the ISPs trying to refine their accuracy before they actually use them to bill customers or put data caps in place.

Oh.

Sevcik wouldn't identify the ISPs in question, nor would he quantify how inaccurate the still-in-development meters were.

Comcast, for one, has published an audit report by NetForecast that says the MSO's meters are accurate. Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications also told me NetForecast has certified their meters for accuracy. AT&T says it doesn't work with the firm to certify its wireline usage meters.

So now we know.... what, exactly? That measuring broadband usage is kind of tricky. OK, well, glad that's settled.

I'll note that none of this is to dismiss the question of whether other ISPs that have rolled out usage-based meters actually have reliable tools -- both AT&T and Suddenlink, for example, have been accused of misreporting data consumption. But that's not what NetForecast, in this case, is saying.

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