Now that Time Warner Cable is testing a bill-by-the-byte approach for Internet access, it’d be nice to have a simple way to measure individual Internet use. We’re taught to track the upload and download speeds provided by ISPs, but exact measurements there are hardly necessary. If my downloads are moving more slowly than usual, I know without testing that I’m not reaching my promised 6-Mbps mark.
On the other hand, I don’t want to guesstimate how much I’ve downloaded in a month if I’m going to be billed a dollar every gigabyte I exceed my limit by, particularly because I’m not the only one in my household using the Internet connection.
Time Warner is apparently planning to put a “gas gauge” on its website so subscribers can tell how much of their download and upload allotments they’ve used up. (Something akin to TWC’s DVR storage gauge shown right?) But why are ISPs waiting until after they’ve instituted metered billing? Why not give users an easy way to measure now so we can get smart about how we use our bandwidth? Such a move might even help the ISPs by reducing strain on their networks from users willing to be a little more conscious of their Internet habits.
There are options available for measuring Internet usage today, like Hagel Technologies’ DU Meter software. But in my opinion, tools like this should be freely available from every ISP. Particularly if more operators plan to follow Time Warner’s lead in the future.