Before we can play the metered broadband game, don't we have to understand the rules?

Seems a lot of articles are popping up on metered broadband, especially on GigaOm. Essentially, charging “heavy” internet users more for broadband than “regular” users.

I read things like “5-gigabyte monthly cap” and it’s like talking about how much something costs in rubles when you have no idea what that means in the dollars you spend.

They keep talking about “abuse” but I have no idea what that means. How much is too much? Who sets that measure, and who agrees that it’s fair? Does it take the telecommuter and web worker into consideration? Doesn’t appear to be the case from the stories I’m reading. “Abuse” is measured by volume only, not intent. I’m online for many hours a day. I watch videos but don’t download movies, upload some graphics, manage C3’s various websites and web services which often means a bit of uploading and downloading, write for WebWorkerDaily, etc. Eric and the girls are on our DSL modem too, doing their thing. Should I be nervous about metered broadband? I have absolutely no idea.

There is nowhere I can go on Verizon’s site to see how much traffic the Sohn household consumes in a month. I don’t remember seeing such a metric on the Comcast or Cablevision pages when I had their services either. The only way I hear of people finding out they’re “heavy” users is when the company decides to tell them they are.

So I guess I won’t worry about metered broadband affecting my home service until Verizon sees fit to give me some sort of measurement. I also wish Verizon would offer a home business plan, acknowledging those of us who are heavy users but aren’t “abusing” a home service. This kind of traffic coming from an office would be nothing. Would I pay more for a faster connection and better customer support? Yes, I think so. But the reality is that it’s not going to happen, even if Verizon were to offer such a middle service.

For me, it’s like drinking out of a lake with a coffee stirrer. A fantastic good day gets me around 2Mbps down/700kbps up. The other day I got an honest Verizon rep on the phone and asked him what my options were for getting faster Internet service. He confirmed what I already suspected. I have no chance of ever seeing the new 7 Mbps DSL service they’re rolling out (we’re too far away from the switching station or whatever it is) and FIOS isn’t in my development yet. His answer: “Well, you could move.” Thanks.

It seems the wireless companies are all too happy to tell you exactly how much you’re consuming, so I’ll start there to try and figure out what I really consume.

I have my Sprint EVDO modem (USB AirCard) with the unlimited plan that Sprint is threatening to make not-so-unlimited. Should I be worried? Let’s see.

Earlier this month I was in Chicago and for 3 days, I was on the Aircard for 8-10 hours a day. I was sitting at our booth and the conference-supplied wifi was terrible, so I used my own. Wasn’t always uploading/downloading. But things that happen in the background when I’m online happened. Firefox tabs open. You know how it is.

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Hmmm… around 400 MB for 3 days of “solid” use plus a few hours here and there. If there’s a 5 GB cap, and I used my Aircard the way I do my home DSL modem every day (the pipes are about the same size, believe it or not) that’s going to add up quick. Uh oh.

While I’m here, could someone please explain how a AirCard could send/receive a text message? I had a bill a few months ago with a $0.20 charge for a text message and yes, I called Sprint and had them take it off. I also asked them to disable/block text messages from my account. If someone sends a wrong number text message to my AirCard, where there’s no possible way for me to know or read it, why should I be charged? Looks like I’ll have to call again when the next bill comes. It’s only a quarter, but why should I pay them a fraction of a penny I shouldn’t have to? I will call them every single time I see a text message on my bill.

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