The frenzy over bandwidth caps reached a fevered pitch recently in response to news that Time Warner Cable was expanding trials beyond Beaumont Texas. Consumer outrage sparked responses from operators and the NCTA, as well as various politicians. Ultimately, Time Warner has decided to shelve its plan for metered billing, at least until it’s had “further consultation with our customers and other interested parties, ensuring that community needs are being met.”
Arguments for and against bandwidth caps aside, Time Warner is moving forward with one very smart plan. It’s turning more attention to getting a reliable bandwidth meter to market so that subscribers can actually tell how much bandwidth they use. This is critical. Even though public analyses like the recent one done by Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOM help clarify the relative value of bandwidth, nothing could make the situation clearer than providing real-time usage information. Once these meters are widely available, I imagine we’ll see wide usage comparisons from data collected in forums, on Twitter, and via other online communication tools. Then not only will consumers be able to see how much bandwidth they need for their own Internet habits, but also what patterns exist across the larger Internet population.