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Rogers raises penalty for exceeding bandwidth cap

For anyone who's approached or exceeded their monthly bandwidth cap with Rogers, take note because as of March 1 it could cost you quite a bit more for that bandwidth transgression than it used to.

I say "may" cost you more because while Rogers has increased the maximum penalty to $50 from $25 on all service plans, they're dropped the per-gigabyte fee to $1.25 from $1.50.

The high-speed Internet provider charges customers for every gigabyte of bandwidth over an above their monthly allotment, a cap that corresponds to a customer's service package. High-Speed Extreme customers, for example, get 10-megabit download speed but if they exceed 95 GB of total downloading and uploading, Rogers charges them $1.50 per extra GB up to $25. (see all of Rogers tiers)

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At least Rogers used to.

As of March 1, that fee has changed and Rogers Extreme customers will pay $1.25 a gig up to $50 for going over the cap. That means the $60 month fee balloons into $110 if you ever hit 135 GB or more. (Here's another Package chart but the new per-gig prices are not yet updated. However, it'll give you an idea of overuse fees.)

While the new price-per-gig works in favour of the customer (if you calculate $1.25 a GB rather than $1.50, it will take 40 extra GB to reach the $50 max rather than 33 GB), this is the type of move that may force customers who regularly approach or exceed their cap to seriously consider upgrading their service package.

If that's part of Rogers' plan, it worked.

I just bumped up my service from Extreme to Extreme Plus (if you do the same, inquire about the promotion that offers $20 off Internet for the first six months if you lock in for a year -- that's upgrading only). So now, I'll be getting 25-Mb download speeds (still a measly 1-Mb upload, though) and a cap of 125 GB a month and, once the promotion ends, will be paying $14 a month more ($10 for the service and $7 for the modem rather than $3).

Call me a sucker, but twice in the past year I have exceeded my 95 GB cap and paid an extra $25 on my bill -- once after backing up several gigs on an online backup service and once after downloading a few movies on my Xbox.

An therein lies the rub of this whole bandwidth cap issue.

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While I'm not opposed paying for what you use -- that's a well-established model for utilities, including hydro, gas and wireless -- it's getting too damn expensive. I am discovering that I'm actually limiting my consumption of some totally legitimate services because I've no desire to pay extra on my Rogers bill at the end of the month.

Take for example Microsoft Xbox's movie service. After waiting for what seemed eons for some kind of a legit movie download service, I finally have access to one that has a list of movies that I'd actually like to see, but it's proving too expensive to really enjoy it regularly. Reason is, downloading an HD movie eats up more than 11 GB of my bandwidth -- more than 10% of my monthly allotment (before I upgraded) for one freaking movie. That goes for games too. It seems as though distributors are leaning more and more to online delivery, but at 6 or 8 GB per game, again, that eats up a lot of bandwidth.

And Rogers is by no means the worst when it comes to caps -- in fact their bandwidth caps are great compared to Bell's. Their new Fibe 25 service, offering 25-Mb download speeds, has a 75 GB cap. 75! Yes, it's $20 a month less (that is, with a whole long list of conditions) than the comparable Rogers service, but Bell charges a buck per gig when you go over that 75 GB limit. So, if you were to use, say 120 GB, which falls just under Rogers' 125 GB cap for that service, the fee would be nearly $100 for that month. No thanks.

All in all, it makes me a little frustrated when comparing broadband prices in other parts of the world and where Canada fits in terms of service and cost. I know that's an oft-mentioned gripe, but as a consumers who relies on the Internet as my main entertainment delivery system, it's really starting to hit where it hurts -- in the wallet.

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About the Author

Michael Snider started working at the Globe and Mail in December, 2005. From fall 2006 until September 2011, he edited, the Globe and Mail's online tech section. Previously, Michael Snider worked at Maclean's, The Toronto Star and the Korea Times. More

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