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