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Zeugma brings brains to metering

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Zeugma Systems today introduced new technology for metering broadband services that could make those services more palatable for consumers,

company officials said. The Zeugma SmartMeter is a new application in the Zeugma Smart application suite, built on Zeugma’s Open Application Sandbox.

Despite the fact that consumers don’t like capping and metering, service providers are being forced to implement such measures because their networks are getting congested, said Kevin Walsh, vice president of marketing for Zeugma. “That train has left the station. Service providers are doing it because they feel like they have to. Their networks are getting more crowded, and they must find new network efficiency because they can’t afford to just throw bandwidth at the problem.”

The Zeugma SmartMeter enables service providers more ways of defining how broadband services are billed, including time-of-day specific billing and billing or prioritizing traffic by type. Zeugma uses what it calls deep session inspection, a variation on deep packet inspection, to look at specific traffic and customer profiles before determining how to handle and bill Internet traffic. The Zeugma SmartMeter also gives service providers options for handling traffic that exceeds set limits or caps.

For example, it’s possible to charge different rates for peak and off-peak traffic that give consumers incentive to do things like major video downloads during off-peak times, said Curtis Sherbo, director of product management for Zeugma. And while the Zeugma SmartMeter can enable a service provider to implement basic metering and capping, such as selling a consumer a specific volume of traffic and charging for overages, it’s also possible to have different usage caps for different types of traffic, Sherbo said.

“You might not cap for email and Web traffic, but for overall peer-to-peer traffic and video streaming, you might have a cap,” Sherbo said. Zeugma also enables service providers to sell a premium video service that assures a quality of experience for video streaming. “You wouldn’t include any of that traffic in the cap, since you want to encourage users to use that service and not penalize that usage,” Sherbo said.

Rather than issue dire warnings or even stop service to those who use up their allotted bandwidth, it’s possible to lower their quality of service, Sherbo said. “Instead of taking a heavy-handed approach, you might drop service to 1 to 2 megabits [per second],” he said. “That way, the consumer doesn’t lose service and could still have a third party VoIP call, but you are reducing the level of service and the bandwidth being consumed.”

Zeugma worked with IDC on consumer surveys which showed that consumers view capping and metering of broadband services negatively, Walsh acknowledged. “But we also learned that a lot of the consumer dislike of capping and metering stems from a lack of understanding. Consumers are not familiar with the term gigabyte, and about 65% didn’t know how much bandwidth they consumed on a monthly basis.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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