The headline above doesn’t strictly parse, but it still points to an interesting question. In a world where the argument for flat-fee broadband is fought regularly in the public forums of tech blogs and Twitter, where does actual Internet usage stack up? Jeff Baumgartner is finding out as part of Comcast’s trial of its new bandwidth meter tool. He’s got the new bit counter up and running, and was (I’m speculating) hoping for a spiking graph to show off his geek cred. Despite streaming the final season of the The Wire in February, however, Jeff didn’t even break 1 GB of usage. He did push up to 6 GB last December, but even that mark barely registered under Comcast’s 250 GB monthly cap.
So is a cap really a cap if nobody reaches it?
I’m very curious to see more data as the Comcast bandwidth meter rolls out to more markets. Currently it’s in the Denver area, parts of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Texas, and Utah. Will my own usage register? I work from a home office quite often and regularly stream Slacker music stations. However, my online video watching isn’t extensive.
The main argument against bandwidth caps is that they don’t allow room for innovation. But using Jeff as an example, there’s a pretty big space between 6 GB and 250 GB. Perhaps online gaming would create a significant spike, but we’re short on data for the moment.
Meanwhile, if we do see consumers start to run up against caps more frequently, I imagine we’ll also see further advances in offline media caching and compression, and a lot more discipline in locking down open Wi-Fi networks.
Cheers to bit counters, and to the data they’ll bring us.