How Meters Work

The six functions of meter systems

Internet data usage meters are complex systems, with many components that must function well together. Often meter systems include a mix of vendors with home-grown elements added in. A typical meter system includes six processing functions.

The customer’s device (e.g., cable modem, mobile phone, residential gateway, etc.) sends subscriber traffic to and receives subscriber traffic from the ISP’s network edge device (e.g., router, gateway, CMTS, switch), which counts the traffic, and puts that count into a count record. Count records are then aggregated from multiple collectors and the data is converted into uniform values (typically per hour) that are forwarded to the account mediation function. There the usage values are associated with subscriber accounts and any business rules associated with each account are applied. Account mediation then stores the usage information as formal meter records in a general database. In a final step, the data is made available to users via a customer portal.

For more information about how data usage meters work, how to understand and manage usage, and how and why meters can go wrong, view the full paper How Meters Work.