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Data Usage Meter Launched

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Silver Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Fishman, good points and good suggestions for what they should have included. But maybe they didn't need to. Maybe the limit should go up another 25% to include the overhead of other media.
 
I have three questions
1) What is the purpose of this meter?
2) Was the current limit set to curb normal users or to provide an absurdly high limit for abusive users? 
3) To highlight Fishman's point, if it's tied to IP address, is Comcast going to reset the meter associated with an IP address when it's reassigned to someone else? Many of us have been falsely accused of spamming and other nefarious activity based on a reassigned IP address.What has Comcast done to ensure we aren't accused of having high data usage? 
 
What I've heard from Comcast (maybe not what they intended) is that ordinary users won't come close to the limit. Having this meter can show users that they really do have plenty of room to explore other varieties of data usage.
 
The limit was set in a time when people weren't downloading high-definition movies as a matter of course. If we see lots of users bumping into the limits, maybe we'll need to lobby for a higher limit. Or maybe it will be a non-issue. I have a feeling that Comcast doesn't really know what a realistic unobtrusive limit is.
 

Diamond Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


FishMan wrote:

The report explained a lot but I think it also raises questions.

 

1. The report describes 6.2% measured overhead as a result of the testing. This overhead is added to the meter. Testing consisted of transferring files using FTP which is a low overhead protocol. Why didn't the testers use a higher overhead protocol such as HTTP, which would be more representative of a typical Comcast users experience?

 

Way Agree !

 

2. The report goes on to identify several ways and devices that use the Internet that may be unknown to a user. The number of devices and their respective Internet usage will grow in time. There is no discussion in the report of how the bandwidth restrictions and monitoring will grow to accommodate growing use.

 

Agree here too.

 

3. It is my understanding from the report that traffic tracking across the modem is captured and uniquely identified by the modem's ip address. The case where an ip address changes due to system maintenance, changed device connected to the modem, or other situation causing DHCP to assign a new ip addess is not addressed. What happens to the meter data when a new ip address is assigned? What happens to a user's account if the newly assigned ip address was one that during the month was previously assigned to a user who exceeded the 250GB limit? We've seen issues where ip addresses that were previously blocked were reassigned to subscribers.

 

I believe that it is the Comcast private modem management IP address that they use here, and not the subscriber's public (WAN) IP addy that is assigned by CC's DHCP server to one's connection.

 


 

Message Edited by EG on 12-05-2009 07:12 PM
Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


bethkatz wrote:

In the post at the top of this thread, Jason noted:

Since we know many forum users will be curious about how the usage meter works, we commissioned an independent analysis of the usage meter by NetForecast, Inc. Their report on the system is available here on their website.  

 

I found that explained a lot.

 

Having the meter will help many people see that they are nowhere near the limit even with multiple devices used frequently.


 

The report explained a lot but I think it also raises questions.

 

1. The report describes 6.2% measured overhead as a result of the testing. This overhead is added to the meter. Testing consisted of transferring files using FTP which is a low overhead protocol. Why didn't the testers use a higher overhead protocol such as HTTP, which would be more representative of a typical Comcast users experience?

 

2. The report goes on to identify several ways and devices that use the Internet that may be unknown to a user. The number of devices and their respective Internet usage will grow in time. There is no discussion in the report of how the bandwidth restrictions and monitoring will grow to accommodate growing use.

 

3. It is my understanding from the report that traffic tracking across the modem is captured and uniquely identified by the modem's ip address. The case where an ip address changes due to system maintenance, changed device connected to the modem, or other situation causing DHCP to assign a new ip addess is not addressed. What happens to the meter data when a new ip address is assigned? What happens to a user's account if the newly assigned ip address was one that during the month was previously assigned to a user who exceeded the 250GB limit? We've seen issues where ip addresses that were previously blocked were reassigned to subscribers.

 

The report was good to read but it was incomplete in my opinion. I don't think the testing process and procedures adequately represented a typical Comcast user's traffic. FTP is one of the least expensive protocols in terms of overhead and typical Comcast users probably don't use FTP as much as other protocols. The report described other protocols and devices that subscribers use. Knowing this why didn't the testing make use of these higher overhead protocols? I'm sure Comcast could have provided a breakout of protocols used by subscribers as a percentage to the testers. The testers could then have designed their tests to be more in line to typical subscriber usage. I'm sure the results would not have been as favorable if it instead of talking to 6.2% overhead included in the meter it had to explain maybe 20% or more overhead included.

 

It seems to me that traffic overhead should be a cost to Comcast of doing the business of providing Internet service. Measuring overhead and including this number in the usage meter is akin to FedEx charging $28 for a package then adding $1 for gas plus $1.50 for rent, plus ... Comcast IMHO should charge for the internet connection and not the overhead separately. Wait until they decide that Netflix users need to pay 10% overhead, HTTP users should pay 12% overhead, Internet TV viewers should pay 25% overhead, etc. Oh wait, that is exactly what this metering system does. If you are a high overhead protocol user you will reach the limit faster than a low overhead protocol user. So if for example Internet TV has an overhead rate of 20% (I have no idea what the real reat is) and FTP has an overhead rate of 6.2% and you are a user of Internet TV you will reach your limit faster than the FTP user based solely on the overhead. This will get worse as more content is delivered by the Internet. Just my opinion.

 

Message Edited by FishMan on 12-05-2009 03:40 PM
Silver Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

In the post at the top of this thread, Jason noted:

Since we know many forum users will be curious about how the usage meter works, we commissioned an independent analysis of the usage meter by NetForecast, Inc. Their report on the system is available here on their website.  

 

I found that explained a lot.

 

Having the meter will help many people see that they are nowhere near the limit even with multiple devices used frequently.

Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


tufop wrote:

According to the "report" the meter itself does use bandwidth per she and it is also reporting the various, what I will call background traffic associated with sending and receiving Internet traffic.  The meter does use bandwidth according to your report.  Putting it in very basic terms, the meter< according to Compacts' announcement, reports traffic up and downline.  The "reporting" of traffic is generating the same "background traffic" that accounts for the 6.9% of every customers usage no matter how much bandwidth they use or do not use.

 


Umm... you're way off base. That 6.9% is just about the difference between a Gigabyte (1,073,741,824 bytes) and a billion bytes (1,000,000,000 bytes). The Comcast cap is measured in Gigabytes, not billions of bytes, so users aren't getting the short end of things like they do with hard drives.

Official Employee

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


tufop wrote:
Is this meter optional?  Is it going to be on everyone's Comcast page or is there anything that needs to be downloaded to help customers understand their usage?

The meter is not optional.  It will eventually be available for all customers.  It is web-based and customers need not download software to install it.

JL
Regular Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Is this meter optional?  Is it going to be on everyone's Comcast page or is there anything that needs to be downloaded to help customers understand their usage?
Regular Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

According to the "report" the meter itself does use bandwidth per she and it is also reporting the various, what I will call background traffic associated with sending and receiving Internet traffic.  The meter does use bandwidth according to your report.  Putting it in very basic terms, the meter< according to Compacts' announcement, reports traffic up and downline.  The "reporting" of traffic is generating the same "background traffic" that accounts for the 6.9% of every customers usage no matter how much bandwidth they use or do not use.

 

Nice time to change the plan was the reference of couching this in terms of letting the customer know how much bandwidth he or she uses.  My originally agreement was for unlimited use.  There was no mention of a bandwidth level that would result in being banned from the service but then again I started with AT&T and when AT&T disappeared for a time, Comcast automatically became my Internet, Cable TV, and VoIP supplier.  That's all I was saying.  The meter does require bandwidth to report usage and every user should remember that 6.9% of whatever the meter says they are using is really covered by the basic contract for Internet service and should be subtracted from whatever usage is reported.  Actually the .5% of error found by the independent tester should also be subtracted from the total number, whatever it may be.

Official Employee

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


dukeofhurl wrote:
I am in Portland. I do not have access to the meter. Under My Devices it displays No device information is available.

More areas are being phased in on Monday - all of your area to complete by end of year.

JL
Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Me, too, in Tallahassee.  We're not among the chosen few.
Regular Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

I am in Portland. I do not have access to the meter. Under My Devices it displays No device information is available.
Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Mrite,

 

The cap isn't going to affect gamers. The only folks this cap will affect are those who download/upload large quantities of multi-media files, and you almost have to do this 24/7 to exhaust your monthly bandwidth allotment of 250GB. 

Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


jlivingood wrote:

Welcome_to_Post wrote:
How soon before it gets rolled out for the rest of us?

First quarter, meaning after the holidays, it will start to deploy to other markets.  We're not disclosing anything more specific than that at this point though.


Good enough, I guess.  It is what it shall be.  Thanks!

Frequent Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Hi folks...

Maybe this isn't the place for this question, but that older thread concerning the Cap and metering seems to be inactive.

 

Anyway... I'm an online gamer who plays several online games a week, for a few hours at a time. Here's an example of my average weekly gaming time... 

 

Game Past 7 Days Total v
Combat Arms Combat Arms 11 hours 137 hours
Battlefield 2 Battlefield 2 1 hour 54 hours
Alliance of Valiant Arms Alliance of Valiant Arms - 26 hours
Cross Fire Cross Fire - 12 hours
Battlefield 2 Demo Battlefield 2 Demo - 11 hours

  Overall Hours 20 hours 249 hours

 


 

 

The Combat Arms time is all online (the past 7 days), if you go to my profile page (mrite47 on XFire) you should see about 20+ hours total for various games, most others offline though. How exactly will the cap affect my gaming, or will it at all? I'm just curious... I look forward to actually being able to monitor it myself... Thanks.

Silver Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

I don't understand why you're asking about unwanted traffic in the context of the usage meter? Since this counts against the 250 GB cap, don't you want it to be included in the meter? I suspect what you really wish is that it didn't count against the 250 GB. But that's a different issue -- don't blame the messenger.

 

As the report mentioned, unwanted traffic typically counts for less than 1% of the 250 GB, so it's unlikely to push you far over and cause you to be accused of excessive use. 

Official Employee

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


lucyclairebu wrote:

Peter's whitepaper is detailed and useful - talking in depth about customer internal and regular Comcast<->Customer traffic. However it is completely silent on the accounting of unwanted ingress/egress from external sources - e.g. bots on the open internet sweeping Comcast subnets looking for routers and services that can be compromised? The same bots that can compromise an unprotected/unpatched machine in a matter of hours.

 

I'm pretty certain from looking at the logs on my router that upstream "data silence" just doesn't exist in a real wild-west.I take it that the meter will count this ingress regardless of it's legitimacy - traffic is traffic...What steps are being taken to measure, understand and offset the presence of such sources?


All traffic is counted.  Most home gateways devices will reject such inbound traffic, making it trivial in size.  As for what we're doing, do a quick search on this forum on the web for "Comcast Constant Guard" which is a new program we launched a short time ago to combat bots.

JL
Official Employee

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


Welcome_to_Post wrote:
How soon before it gets rolled out for the rest of us?

First quarter, meaning after the holidays, it will start to deploy to other markets.  We're not disclosing anything more specific than that at this point though.

JL
Regular Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

Peter's whitepaper is detailed and useful - talking in depth about customer internal and regular Comcast<->Customer traffic. However it is completely silent on the accounting of unwanted ingress/egress from external sources - e.g. bots on the open internet sweeping Comcast subnets looking for routers and services that can be compromised? The same bots that can compromise an unprotected/unpatched machine in a matter of hours.

 

I'm pretty certain from looking at the logs on my router that upstream "data silence" just doesn't exist in a real wild-west.I take it that the meter will count this ingress regardless of it's legitimacy - traffic is traffic...What steps are being taken to measure, understand and offset the presence of such sources?

Highlighted
Bronze Problem Solver

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

How soon before it gets rolled out for the rest of us?
Official Employee

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched


tufop wrote:
How much does their meter use? How many Comcast customers are there? Every single customer will run their meter 24 hours a day 7 days a week (If they don't shut down). How much bandwidth is the meter using?

The meter does not consume bandwidth per se.  You go to a website to display your usage when you would like to see it.  So it'd use the bandwidth equivalent to any other normal web page.



tufop wrote:
Nice time to change the game plan.

 I'm not sure I understand what you mean

JL
Regular Visitor

Re: Data Usage Meter Launched

How much does their meter use? How many Comcast customers are there? Every single customer will run their meter 24 hours a day 7 days a week (If they don't shut down). How much bandwidth is the meter using? Comcast is such a good company to let us know how much bandwidth we use! Unlimited bandwidth is the only bandwidth worth having! Nice time to change the game plan.
Official Employee

Data Usage Meter Launched

Today we announced the start of a pilot market deployment of our data usage meter for our High-Speed Internet Service. This deployment begins today for customers in Portland, Oregon. We anticipate deploying this usage meter beyond the pilot market beginning in the first quarter of 2010.

FAQs can be found here.

In addition to announcing this news in this forum, we have also posted information at BroadbandReports.com, on our Network Management page at http://networkmanagement.comcast.net (and with a special detail page at http://networkmanagement.comcast.net/datausagemeter.htm), and we have sent an email on the subject to customers in the pilot market.

While I will not specifically address why there is a 250GB monthly data usage limit, since that has been exhaustively covered before, I do want to provide you with some additional technical detail about the data usage meter.

Since we know many forum users will be curious about how the usage meter works, we commissioned an independent analysis of the usage meter by NetForecast, Inc. Their report on the system is available here on their website.

The pilot market deployment follows employee testing of the meter this past summer. We selected Portland because it is an area where we have a single Cable Modem Termination System (CMTS) platform, enabling us to control for that variable in the pilot (many markets have several different CMTS platforms).

Customers can view the usage meter by logging into Customer Central at http://customer.comcast.com and clicking on the “Users and Settings” tab. From there, click on “View details” in the “My devices” section (located toward the upper right hand of the screen) and that will go to the meter page. The usage meter looks like this:





Our systems update the meter approximately every three hours, and it displays in whole Gigabytes (G, shown over a calendar month (not a billing cycle) rounded down to the nearest GB.

We expect that many forum users may ask why this took so long to release. This was due to several factors. We were not prepared to release it until we knew it had been thoroughly tested, was in a form that was simple and easy to use for our typical customer, and had been independently tested by a third party for accuracy.

In addition, as many of you know, we have been in the process of moving from DOCSIS 2.0 to DOCSIS 3.0 and have three CMTS vendors (Arris, Cisco, and Motorola), and several CMTS models from each vendor. So, while we were in the midst of aggressively rolling out DOCSIS 3.0, we were also working to ensure we achieved a high-level of accuracy for the data sent to the data usage meter.

 

Thanks

Jason

Message Edited by jlivingood on 12-01-2009 11:28 AM
JL