17 Jan 2011,
by Haim Gelfenbeyn

Broadband usage: overage charges are coming?

I think most users are aware that more and more Internet service providers are changing their data plans to include overage charges. For example, my service provider, Shaw, announced recently that they are going to charge $2 per gigabyte for all traffic above my plan’s monthly usage limit.

This constitutes a change of paradigm. Broadband providers who saw their heavy users as “a problem” and opted to simply terminate their accounts or throttle their download speed, now view them as an additional revenue opportunity. And this is bad news for all of us. Monthly limits were reasonable and often not strictly enforced (you would get a friendly call from your provider first). Now, they are just going to slap you with a hefty monthly bill. And while monthly network bandwidth usage is going up all the time (bigger web sites, more music, online videos, Skype etc.), rest assured that network providers are not going to hurt their own pocket and raise the monthly limits anytime soon.

One more thing: letting you know your own bandwidth consumption is now runs counter to your provider’s best interest. So if you are not using a bandwidth monitor like DU Meter, which can alert you automatically when your monthly usage is close to your plan’s limit, you will have to log in into your provider’s web site and check your usage there. Would you consider a phone plan where free local calls turn into expensive long-distance calls, without any warning? But this is essentially what your broadband usage plan is, now!