One of the problems with Comcast’s new 250 GB bandwidth cap is that, as Om points out on GigaOM, it’s metered without a meter. Comcast doesn’t provide you with a central tally of all your data use. The company instead suggests its customers install bandwidth metering software on their machines and then add up the numbers. Its FAQ reads: “Customers using multiple PCs should just be aware that they will need to measure and combine their total monthly usage in order to identify the data usage for their entire account.” Got multiple home machines consuming data every day? Better bust out that spreadsheet — and get ready for some wild guesstimates. After all, you can’t just install a bandwidth metering application on your Slingbox.
The Slingbox is only one example of why the absence of a central bandwidth meter for your account is not inconvenient, but a central flaw in Comcast’s cap. More and more devices are bringing video to the living room, in turn consuming huge amounts of bandwidth. Most of them are not computers, but home entertainment devices with simplified interfaces that don’t burden their users with complicated stats and settings. That makes for a good user experience — unless you’re a Comcast customer that’s already using a lot of data and the box in your living room is busting your bandwidth-capped behind.