Bandwidth Caps and Broadband Routers

I’ve been reading lately about how Comcast has “clarified” their “excessive use” policy for broadband users. In Comcast Clarifies High Speed Extreme Use Policy (GameDaily.biz), the company says it’s bout 90 GB in a month, or “the equivalent of 30,000 songs, 250,000 pictures or 13 million emails in a month. That adds up to about 90 GB, assuming that a song is about 3 MB.” (via Computerworld blogs). That’s a lot of stuff.

Until, as the Computerworld article starts to hint at, you start thinking about all sorts of services delivered over the net – home user broadband – that could easily tip the scales. TiVo and Netflix, Apple TV and similar products, and MS’ digital home plans … all of those could easily soak up all of that bandwidth.

Broadband companies like Comcast have all sorts of “everything over IP” strategies in the works, like their triple play (voice, video and data over one line). How will they be able to keep up? I’m not arguing that they should remove the idea of excessive bandwidth users – after all, bandwidth is a finite resource – but one does have to plan for the future. After all, companies like Cisco are betting on that.

And that leads me to broadband routers. Why companies like Linksys or Cisco don’t have integrated bandwidth measurements in their products is beyond me. It’s easy to see how a customer would benefit, they’d have a good idea (say within 2% or so of what the cable company is measuring) of how much bandwidth they’re using and avoid getting cut off by using their limited resources more soundly. Years ago I had developed a BSD-based router solution using Soekris hardware with integrated bandwidth measurement tools. Nothing fancy, not like Peakflow, but definitely more access to data than I have with my Net-54G. Hrm .. Peakflow on SOHO devices could be kind of neat (but probably difficult to do, and no, I’m not saying we’ll ever deliver it).

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