I’ve long been a strong proponent of Net Neutrality. Bits should not be discriminated against because they contain audio or video versus text. However it seems the more connected we become, the more aware ISPs are of their ability to gouge their customers. Using deep packet inspection ISPs can examine the data you’re consuming, bit by bit. A future scenario might play out like this: “We see you’re using Skype for voip service. Skype competes directly with our own voip service. We’ll have to charge you an additional fee for using Skype.” As proof, closely examine this sales pitch from Allot Communications to the major wireless providers to help monetize data traffic by service.

The United States, inventor of the internet, lags embarrassingly behind other countries in terms of broadband usage costs, and average download speeds. Just when the internet, web and mobile connectivity are becoming integral to daily life, telcos are implementing bandwidth caps, discussing overage fees and throttling heavy data consumers. The FCC recently passed very limited Net Neutrality restrictions on wired internet delivery, but gave wireless providers a free pass in terms of their policies and practices as long as they’re “open” about it.

These events prompted me to examine my own data usage to see how much I’m actually consuming. At home we use Comcast for data which has a 250GB monthly data cap. Here are the devices that utilize our Comcast data connection:

  • Windows desktop PC
  • Windows laptop
  • Macbook Pro
  • iPhone
  • iPod Touch
  • XBox 360 (mostly used to stream Netflix movies)

Here is our Comcast usage for the past three months. Fortunately we’re well below the 250GB monthly cap.

For mobile service I use an iPhone from AT&T. I have an unlimited data plan but I still want to track how much I’m using. Since I haven’t been tracking my usage until now, I can only estimate how much I’ve used over the past 7 months by averaging the total before resetting on Feb. 1. Here are my data totals before resetting:

That averages out to be 160.9MB per month down and 46MB up. I’m a little surprised as I thought it would be a lot higher as I really love me some mobile data!

My experiment is going to continue for the next several months and I’ll post updates about each month’s data consumption.