Routers which let you track your internet usage

With the move to Usage Based Billing (UBB) by Internet Service providers in Canada, consumers have become concerned with ensuring their household internet usage does not exceed their monthly bandwidth cap.
Big Internet service providers such as Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Cogeco provide online “internet meters” which promise to track usage, however, most of these meters are not real-time and many users question their validity.

Digital Home readers with Shaw Cable and Cogeco have told us they do not believe the numbers the cable companies are reporting. Tech savvy members of the Digital Forum report numerous instances where the bandwidth usage reported by Shaw and Cogoco differ dramatically from the numbers their computers and routers are reporting.

If Internet costs are going to a function of usage like electricity, water, natural gas or gasoline, then Canadian consumers want to know the usage numbers being reported are accurate and verifiable.
In Canada, Measurement Canada is responsible for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of measurement in the Canadian marketplace yet, to date, the federal agency has done nothing to ensure that Canadians internet billing, like their gas, water or electricity is measured accurately.

Last week while researching Usage Based Billing, I asked a series of questions related to Usage Based Billing to representatives of Rogers Cable and Bell Canada. One of the questions I asked was whether the respective companies were using an independent organization to ensure that internet usage was measured accurately. While replying to most questions, neither firm answered Digital Home’s questions about the veracity of the numbers.

Unfortunately, it would appear that the CRTC, which governs Internet Service Providers, is allowing cable and telco’s to bill by the gigabyte but is doing nothing to ensure that Internet meters work or work accurately. The result is Canadian consumers are going to be forced to monitor their own internet usage in order to keep internet service providers honest.

Since all internet traffic in your home flows through your router, the only way to validate and monitor your internet traffic is to use a router that records bandwidth usage.

Routers with Traffic Meters

Digital Home contacted the major router manufacturers operating in Canada – D-Link, Netgear, and D-Link – and asked them for a list of their routers sold in Canada which featured tools to measure internet usage.

Only one of the three major router companies was able to provide us with a list of routers which measure usage, NetGear. Sean Stevens from NetGear’s PR firm informed Digital Home that all of NetGear routers have Traffic Meter including their three most popular routers, the NetGear WNDR3700, WNDR3400, and WNR2000.

Over the weekend, Digital Home picked up the Netgear WNR 3500L, an open source router which sells for $90 and tested out the traffic meter.

Set-up of the router and the traffic was very simple and took just minutes. We set-up the router to record the volume of Internet traffic passing through the router’s Internet port in both directions. Our bandwidth cap is 60 GB so we input a monthly volume limit of 59000 MB or approximately 59GB. In addition, we instructed the router to disconnect and disable the Internet connection so all access to the Internet will be blocked when the cap is reached.

The following screen shots show the NetGear WNR 3500L set-up screen and some traffic statistics.


Netgear WNR3500L Traffic Meter Setup


Netgear WNR3500L Sample Traffic Stats

Discuss Internet Usage Monitoring in Digital Home’s Home Computing Hardware forum.


8 Responses to “Routers which let you track your internet usage”
  1. Dave says:

    DD-WRT is an open source router firmware also has a feature that can keep track of your bandwidth usage. It doesn’t work on all router models, so I recommend checking out their website to see if it would work on your router. Although it doesn’t have the traffic control feature like in NetGear, it does the job for me on my Linksys WRT150N router.

  2. Rodney says:

    The one problem I see showing its ugly head is with Shaw. If I am recalling correctly, shaw counts their internet usage over a floating 30 day period, there is no firm start and end date. To use a simple example. With a firm date set I could max out bandwidth on the 30th of the month and start back at zero on the 1st of the next month. With shaw’s floating 30 day period you would have to know how much bandwidth you have used over the past 29 days to know how much is available to you tomorrow.
    The enire idea of UBB is pointless

    • Phoenix says:

      I agree with you totally. I use NetWorx to track my usage which I’ve heard does a good job of accurately indicating how much bandwidth you’ve used. The problem is I’ve never had any indication from Shaw of how much I’m using each billing period so I have no idea of closely NetWorx’s figures match Shaw’s. One thing I find funny about this entire UBB scheme is that last summer I know that there were two months where I definitely went over my bandwidth limit. Never heard a word from Shaw which makes me wonder why all of a sudden this is an issue. The arrival of NetFlix and Shaw’s buying CanWest’s media properties (and Bell buying CTVGlobe Media properties) is just too much of a coincidence for me.

  3. Phoenix says:

    Looks like Digital Home has decided that it’s best to give up on fighting UBB. And in typical Canadian fashion also advocates we go out and spend even more to track how much bandwidth we are using. I’m ready to tell my provider (Shaw) to shove their cable service and to drop me to the lowest Internet package they offer. I’ll find another way to watch the few TV shows that I’m actually interested in.

  4. Mike says:

    Yeah, and did Netgear tell you that the traffic meter only works on PPPoE and PPTP connections and not with DHCP or Static IP connections? Bet they didn’t. And that makes the feature USELESS for anyone on Rogers.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What would you do when it says you used 60G and Rogers says you used 100G?

    Sounds to me like a situation where when the pump (Rogers) and the register (You) differ, the pump is always taken as correct.

    Not only can you spend extra money on a new router, you can also spend more trying to fighting Rogers in court over a $50 bill.

    Agree with Phoenix.

  6. mizkityy64 says:

    I use the 3rd party Tomato firmware on my Linksys WRT54G.

    It’s similar to DD-WRT and has pages for daily/weekly/monthly usage as well as “last 30 days” which should work for the floating bandwidth tabs.

    I’m on Telus and do get a “warning” once in a while but will have to start keep track more often now with the new rules.

  7. mogwai says:

    The Netgear firmware may not work on a standard DHCP connection, but with the WNR3500L you can use the Tomato firmware and track any connection. Regardless of UBB its a good idea to track your usage in case you have overages you want to dispute. Deals can be had on these right now starting at $63.33. If you dont like Netgear go with the Asus rt-n16, same chipset and will run Tomato too.