How much bandwidth do I use?

You’ve probably heard about this usage-based billing controversy. One of the few downsides of living in Canada is that it’s an oligarchy for telecoms and internet providers. And the CRTC is clearly not acting in the best interests of the nation’s citizenry.

I haven’t written about the issue up to now because it’s received a ton of attention, and it’s kind of a foamy latte problem. If your biggest worry is “I may have to pay more for my internet access”, life must be pretty good.

But the UBB issue did get me wondering–how much bandwidth are we using? We’re on Shaw, and (I had to check) we’ve got the the top-tier internet package, Extreme (as in “bra, that was extreme!). The “monthly transfer limit” on that package is 100 GB. Here’s what the last eight months of usage looks like:

That green line is the 100 GB mark. We’ve only exceeded it once in the last seven full months of usage.

We work from home, and I spend a good amount of leisure time on the web. We probably download a couple of movies and maybe 10 episodes of TV a month, and there’s the usual YouTube viewing. On the other hand, it’s rare that we’re not traveling or otherwise out of the office at least a week each month. Here’s another usage chart breaking out the upload and download activity.

If I were guessing, I’d say we’re probably above average in our web usage, but not all the way out on the rim of the bell curve. In any case, it looks like Shaw has temporarily dodged the UBB bullet by planning some public consultation sessions. So even if we do exceed our 100 GB cap in the near future, I doubt that we’ll get dinged.

Have you checked your internet usage lately?


  1. I just checked my Telus account online and apparently in the last 12 months I’ve used 0.0 GB. Which is quite odd, given that, you know, I’m on the Internet right now and have been quite extensively for the last 12 months.

    Coincidentally, my package is also called “Extreme,” though my limit is 75 GB.

  2. To look at it another way, over the course of six months from July to December you used 328.11 of the 600 GB that you paid for. Where is your 45% refund from Shaw for the bandwidth you didn’t use?

    The telcos have framed this whole issue to their advantage: why do we as consumers have to pay for bandwidth we don’t use?

  3. My use last month was more than 300 GB. Would have cost me more than $500 if they’d been enforcing the extra per-GB costs.

    Why? I figure two things — I moved my whole Documents folder into the cloud (using Dropbox) and I use Backblaze which is backing up nearly everything on my hard disk any time anything changes.

  4. Given that Bell has admitted that they are unable to accurately tell you how much bandwidth their customers used, there’s no reason to believe that Shaw, Telus, or Roger$ are any more accurate than wetting your finger inside your house to determine which way the wind is blowing outside your house.

    On top of this, it’s worth noting that when NetFlix said they would start streaming in Canada, Roger$ lowered the limits on my package from 80GB/mo to 60GB.

    (And, yes, I know … using Roger$ is a cheap shot .. all things considered, they deserve it.)

    Anyway, here’s a link to a discussion on bandwidth measurement by Bell:

  5. My ISP told me that I’m using nearly 77GB a month. My current plan, which they had initially announced as INFINITY has a soft limit of 40GB, however I haven’t bee charged anything extra for going over their limit.

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