Surprise, Surprise: Expert Says Many Broadband Meters Are Inaccurate

While Internet providers look more toward capping data usage and penalizing customers for overages (even though it’s becoming less expensive to provide this service), one expert says many devices used to determine a customer’s usage are not sufficiently accurate.

NetForecast is a company that provides auditing services on broadband meters for a number of ISPs in the U.S. Its president, Peter Sevcik, tells GigaOM’s Stacey Higginbotham that of the seven ISPs who have hired NetForecast to audit their meters, one two could be certified as accurate.

Sevcik does caution that not all of the meters his company has audited have been put into use yet, and not all of the ISPs that have hired NetForecast have begun metering or capping data usage for wireline Internet access.

In the not-so-bad news category, Sevcik says that though some meters demonstrate over-reporting of data use, “more frequently the error is under reporting,” so at least the mistake doesn’t harm the end-user’s invoice.

However, he expresses concern that this has caused some ISPs to not pay enough attention to inaccuracies in their metering systems.

“There’s a general sense by some people, ‘Eh, we under report so we give them a free pass, so why worry about that?’” he explains. “I think one does need to worry because it ruins the overall veracity of the meter. It derails trust in the meter.”

Higginbotham points out that reports of such widespread inaccuracies should wake the FCC up to the need for oversight of these sorts of meters, especially if cable companies are going to continue capping data and trying to push customers into tiered data plans like we’ve seen from the wireless industry.

“[B]ut the agency has so far been content to let this experiment in caps play out without much oversight,” she writes. “With these accusations maybe the FCC will finally step up… If we’re going to accept meters on our broadband, then let’s make sure they are accurate.”

[via Dwight Silverman]