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Bandwidth Blues

Posted 2012.11.14 10.39 in Computers/Internet/Technology by Stephanie

This past week has been a bit exciting and tumultuous.

First, I had my tv cable cut. Intentionally, it wasn’t like an accident or anything.

The writing has been on the wall for some time now, it’s just too dang expensive for what you get. There were only a couple channels I was interested in but there was no way to get them a-la-carte, so it was $80/month or nothing. At long last I opted for nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing.

I’d done my research about HD over the air. My TV is new enough (2 years old) to have a digital tuner. And my folks knew I was going to cut the cable and get an antenna, so they generously gave me some $ for my birthday to put towards a good antenna.

So this past Friday the cable guy arrived and worked his magic to make it so I no longer received cable-TV data, while still maintaining my cable internet connection. And after he was done and gone, I got out the ladder and set about installing a funky new TV antenna.

I’ve never been good with heights, and it’s been about a decade or more since I last felt safe ontop of a ladder, but I had set myself the challenge and managed to pull it off — with only minor injuries. Nothing more serious than a bunch of bruises and pulled muscles, and one damaged finger from when the wrench slipped.

Overall though – mission accomplished, I had my antenna up and was able to receive local broadcasts. CBC, CTV, Global, Omni, TVO, a French channel, and sorta-kinda City-Tv, plus something from Buffalo called ‘The CW’. And all in much higher-quality than I got from cable. Uncompressed HDTV, most of them at 1080i.

It looks straight when you’re directly under it, ontop of a ladder.

However, I was missing all the channels / shows I actually watched. Stuff on Showcase, Discovery, History, CBC-Newsworld. So I turned to places like iTunes where you can get episodes and series (also in HD).

Now while doing all this, I was also working on my dad’s computer over the weekend. Upgrading his OS, downloading upgrades to a bunch of his software, that sort of thing.

Finally I thought to myself, I bet I’m getting near my bandwidth limit for the month. I’d better check on that. I’ve only ever got near the limit once before in the 10 years or so that I’ve had this particular service, and they plastered a warning ontop of web pages I was visiting to let me know. I hadn’t seen the warning yet but knew I must be close.

But I was wrong – I was not close. In fact, according to them, I was already 25% over my limit, to the tune of an extra $36 fee.

Why no warning when I got close? For that matter, why no warning when I hit the limit?

I’m guessing it is punishment, for cancelling the tv cable.

I don’t even entirely believe them that I’ve used as much as they say I have, but I’ve no way to know for sure. But that’s not what I’m upset about.

According to their day-by-day logs, I hit the 100% limit before I started all the big weekend downloads. But no warning, no notification.

Now I have to be careful about what bandwidth I use for the next week, and knowing I’m already in for a big extra bill this month. Next month I’ll have to decide whether to increase my account with them, or cut them off completely and go with another ISP.

The problem is, it’s a dualopoly. There’s Rogers and there’s Bell, and they both charge the exact same rates for the exact same services, and they both suck and neither has any incentive to do any better because they both know they both suck and there’s no real choices outside of the two of them. Whether it’s internet, television, telephone, or wireless, those are the two big players in Canada and they just match each other on everything.