Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
When you go to the deli section at the supermarket and ask for 200 grams of
ham, the person behind the counter will weigh out your meat using a set of
scales that are carefully tested and certified accurate at regular intervals.
When you fill your petrol tank at the local gas station, the pump will also
bear a label that provides you with some measure of comfort that you're
actually getting a full 1000ml in every litre.
The law realises that there's a huge potential for consumers to be ripped
off by inaccurate equipment -- either through the deliberate action of
unscrupulous traders or by neglect.
In fact, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs website states quite clearly:
"All weighing and measuring equipment used for selling
goods by quantity must be of an approved type".
So why isn't this the case with IP traffic on the Internet?
Why are so many DSL users complaining that the usage meter provided by
Telecom is so often wrong? (see this story
by Paul Brislen over at IDG for details)
Even if Telecom sort out its "obvious" problems, how are users going to know
that they're actually getting every byte they're being charged for?
Why should IP data be exempt from the rigorous scrutiny of the people at
the Weights and Measures
department of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs?
Since virtually all DSL plans are now capped and require a per-megabyte payment
beyond a certain volume of traffic, and certainly in light of recent events, some
independent body should be vetting Telecom's measurements to ensure that
customers aren't being ripped off -- either accidentally or on purpose.
It seems that Telecom is about to solve(?) their problems by providing
users with software that will run on their PCs -- but do *you* really
want a piece of Telecom software resident on your PC?
What independent authority is going to test that piece of software to
ensure its accuracy -- and who's going to check it for "undocumented
functionality" that the Telco may feel useful at some time in the future?
"Hello, help desk, I have a problem with my Internet connection"
"Hang on Sir, we'll just log into your computer and check your browser
I'm sure that some will say I'm being excessively cynical in making these
suggestions -- but when you're dealing with what amounts to an almost
total monopoly (who owns the copper running into your house again?) then
such cynicism is not always unwarranted.
Indeed, perhaps all broadband providers who charge by the MB should be
subject to similar scrutiny so as to verify the accuracy of their
measuring and logging systems.
Let's hope that someone in government can tell us why so many other
retail measures are held to an official level of accuracy while
Internet data is seemingly exempt -- something that currently gives
Telecom the ability to say "take it or leave it" when it comes to
customer queries over traffic bills.
Have Your Say
As always, your comments are welcomed. Please remember to select
"For Publication" if you want them included on this site.
Have your say.
Want to link to this site? Check out Aardvark's
Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it