Bell Canada admitted yesterday that its Personal Internet Tracker, the meter which tracks its retail customers internet usage and determines who much extra they must pay for exceeding their bandwidth cap, is faulty.
The admission by Bell that it was overstating Internet usage for a portion of its customers (and overcharging) only came after a Toronto Star story about Bell customers who claimed their internet usage was grossly overstated.
For example, one customer in the newspaper's story was charged an overage charge of over $20 for using 25 GB of data of the Christmas holiday period despite being away for 12 days.
Bell Internet customers checking on their internet usage yesterday were greeted with the following message: "We have identified an issue that may cause internet usage shown on this site to be overstated in some cases. In order to ensure we provide reliable information to all our clients, the usage tracker will be unavailable while we resolve the issue."
The company did not divulge how many customers were affected by the faulty internet meter nor what steps it would take to ensure the accuracy of its meters in the future.
The revelation that Bell's Internet usage meters are inaccurate highlights a growing concern of many Canadians who say they have no way of knowing if their internet service providers are accurately monitoring their internet usage.
Digital Home readers tell us that if Internet costs are going to a function of usage like electricity, water, natural gas or gasoline, then they want to know the usage numbers being reported are accurate and verifiable.
In Canada, the federal agency responsible for ensuring the accuracy of measurements is Measurement Canada. To date, the federal agency has done nothing to ensure that Canadians internet billing, like their gas, water or electricity is measured accurately.
Recently Digital Home asked a series of questions to representatives of Rogers Cable and Bell Canada about usage based billing which included asking whether the respective companies were using an independent organization to ensure that internet usage was measured accurately.
While both company's responded to our questions asking why UBB was necessary, both organizations were silent when asked about the veracity of their internet usage meters.
Digital Home followed up about why our question about the independent verification of internet bandwidth usage was left unanswered, Bell Spokesperson Jacqueline Michelis replied that "because the CRTC is the regulatory body that regulates UBB and Bell is entirely compliant with the CRTC's rulings."
Discuss in Digital Home's Bell Phone and Internet Discussion forum .