Addicted to novelty since 2001

It’s Not Porn, I Swear

I got a call today from my cute little startup ISP. They apprised me that my bandwidth usage over the past few months had exceeded the limit of 10 GB per month. Fortunately, as they hand’t advised me of this fact until now, they’re not going to charge me for it. Check out these numbers:

June: 105.5 GB
July: 70.6 GB
August: 67.9 GB
September: 69.3 GB

Interestingly, that’s divided almost half-and-half, upload and download. That’s due to my Web work, as well as online gaming, streaming audio and P2P usage. I can upgrade to a 20 GB/month package, but that’s as high as they go. For usage over that, they charge an extortionate CAN $5/GB. I wonder what their actual cost per GB. As someone’s likely to ask, I have double-checked that I’m not getting exploited by any malware. I’ve got ZoneAlarm covering outgoing traffic, and a hardware firewall handling incoming traffic.

With the growing amount of rich media available on the Web, 10 or 20 GB/month isn’t going to cut it. For example, say I download a 100 MB podcast of a radio show or two every day. That’s at least 2 GB right there. Fast-forward a year from now, where everyone from bloggers to mainstream publishers are making video available online. I’m going to use up 20 GB by the 5th of the month.

I’ve put a call in to Novus to negotiate a deal for some additional bandwidth. It’s CAN $80/month for 20 GB, so I figure I’d be willing to pay CAN $100/month for 40 GB.

16 Responses to “It’s Not Porn, I Swear”

  1. Justin

    Good lord, that’s highway robbery! I’m curious what kind of bandwidth I blow through now too.

  2. 'nee

    A few years ago, my ISP told me that I was using 71GB in a month and they would be charging me $10/GB. I switched to Telus: no bandwidth limits.

    See, Telus charges ISPs between $0.10 and $1 per GB for traffic, but they don’t bother to monitor their residential customers. I had a static IP and was paying about $75 per month, and didn’t have any more problems with $700 bills and slow Sunday nights. I’m evil, because I ditched the smaller company and went with the bigger one, but I’m also slightly richer.

  3. Winston Smith

    I am happy/fortunate that my employer has dual OC-3 pipes, an unrestricted VPN policy from home and doesn’t really care what we do (so long as it’s legal and within the bounds of good taste).

  4. julie

    running cable (shaw) – no restrictions and only about $45 a month. I’ve never received letters about my extreme usage either – so I count that as a bonus. I can hardly wait for the extreme1 to come my way – virtually double the speed I currently have for not much more.

  5. donna

    Ah yes, all of us might be happy with our limitless Telus & Shaw accounts… but Darren has a *much* faster connection. Bastard. I miss Novus.

    The nice thing was, they didn’t try to charge me for extra bandwidth. Well, they did once, and I said “oooh, you don’t want to do that… please?” and they said “Okay!”

    I’m still not sure how I swung that.

    But I think the real moral of this story is… you need to download more porn.

  6. Jeff

    I work for a major Canadian ISP and part of my job is monitoring bandwidth abuse – explaining to customers why they have to cool it. We don’t charge extra for bandwidth – but if someone insists on UPLOADING 75 gigs a month, we have to explain that we do not provide the service for home web hosting and file serving.
    If they do not comply after a few requests we eventually cut them off.

    You have to be pretty hardcore for that to happen.

  7. Darren

    Jeff: Who does provide the service for home web hosting and file serving? I’d gladly go with them.

  8. Jeff

    You would glady switch, and so would everyone else – in the end, MOST people abuse bandwidth for no good reason.
    I’m willing to bet that 9 out of 10 Kazza/Bittorrent users have no idea that leaving their client app running burns massive upload bandwidth.
    If there were no bandwidth abuse departments, the cost of basic high-speed Internet access would be in excess of $100.00 a month for a standard residential connection. (by comparison – I pay a student special of $22.00/month)

    Few people actually NEED to serve out 100 gigs of warez, dvd-rips, and the latest Avril Lavigne single. It just takes a phone call or an email to remind them of that.
    I think file sharing is great. I think massive unchecked file sharing is a huge waste of network resources.

  9. Darren

    Jeff: I’d be curious to see the facts behind your conclusion regarding the true price of bandwidth. I’m not disagreeing with you, but I’d be interested to see how that figure is arrived at.

    Just to clarify, I wasn’t disparaging my ISP necessarily. In fact, when I called them, I credited them for their generosity in not charging me. By the same token, it’s short-sighted to not offer a more robust service than 20 GB/month for those who are willing to pay for it. It’s particularly short-sighted given the increasing demands of rich media on the Web.

  10. Nathan

    Hang on dude, have you started a porn site?
    Awesome..finally some content worth checking out

  11. Shane

    When I was working at a company last year doing system admin work, we had to clamp down on streaming media because our bandwidth useage went from 6GB a month to over 150GB in less than three months. So, the shortsightedness of the ISP is bizarre. I think that Shaw and Telus must have given up. If their customers are making more demands…what could they really do? Start collecting on the usage or alienate their clients? Shaw started collecting last year (from what I have read) and saw a migration of their customers to Telus.

    I think bandwidth is important to monitor and control but in some service industries the bandwidth really shouldn’t be limited…or have a very high limit and make sure customers have a way of monitoring their usage themselves. It would be like the days of users monitoring their number of hours connected before the days of unlimited dialup. Give customers an easy way to monitor such things and watch as they become obsessed with remaining below the limits.

  12. Jeff

    Yeah I never thought you were slamming your ISP – I was just throwing in my observations on the subject because it’s part of what I do.
    I honestly have no figures to back up that claim regarding the cost of bandwidth – I just believe that many people who get into the wonderful world of file sharing do so with little or no understanding of the impact of leaving their files shares open. Exisiting capacity for upstream bandwidth, while beneficial to some, is overlooked by many others who have no interest in paying extra money for the sake of acting as a file server. If this trend goes unchecked, the capacity for broadband services must inevitably be increased and this means more equipment. That equipment is terribly expensive.

    I agree with you that tiered pricing should be an option. What we provide in this area is an upgrade to a business package, which has higher bandwidth limitations. I find that the worst abusers are typically university students who find it preferable to comply with existing limits, rather than part with their student discount.

  13. Den

    Does Novus have a webpage to view your usage?

  14. Vero

    You’re lucky they didn’t charge you right off. Quite a few acquaintances in Ontario got billed massive amounts ranging from $200 to well over a thousand without any prior warning. Most of them got let off, but I think the one who owed over a grand was still forced to pay a certain amount.

    I’ve moved to the UK now, and even though your average high speed connection isn’t quite as fast as the connections I’ve experienced in Canada were, they’re much more stable (no “peak hours” slow down when the whole neighbourhood’s online) and there simply aren’t any usage limits. I love it!
    Vero @ http://www.thatcanadiangirl.co.uk

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