Operators getting really serious about bandwidth caps
The bandwidth wars are starting to pick up again. Major cable operators are really cracking down on heavy users, either by throttling speed or adding surcharges.
Usage-based pricing forces power users to track their monthly activity more closely, often resulting in their upping their level of service, and subsequently their bill.
What’s worse, a recent ruling by the CRTC now means that smaller, independent ISPs —who provide service atop Bell’s and Rogers’ networks — will soon by expected to enforce the same bandwidth caps on their services.
Primus Canada is getting rid of the unlimited Internet plans that customers used to enjoy, starting Feb. 1. Another provider — Shaw Internet — will also raise rates and impose caps by the end of the month.
Most providers offer tools to help users monitor their gigabyte totals. Rogers, for instance, emails its "excessive users" to warn them that they may soon be exceeding their bandwidth limits. And, with the arrival of video-streaming services like Netflix, those messages are likely to pick up.
This is the type of prod that may actually force customers who regularly approach or exceed their cap to seriously consider upgrading their service package. But many people question the accuracy of the service providers’ counts.
Here’s what one angry Barrie, Ont. resident had to say about what he views as phantom usage reports.
“With the huge monopoly on high-speed internet in the Barrie area that Rogers has, it is making massive amounts of extra money by forcing people to upgrade their internet packages, when the only proof of internet usage is the total that Rogers supplies themselves.”
This is why he started tracking things on his own: “What we started seeing was that our actual usage on this end, was less than half of what Rogers claimed we were using,” he maintains.
Have you received that intimidating email yet? Have you checked it out or simply bumped up your service level as a result? Or are bandwidth hogs simply getting what they deserve?
By Gordon Powers, MSN Money