Friday, August 29, 2008

What's reasonable? It depends.

Some light-duty users of wireless data services fail to understand how anyone could possible use 15 or 20 or more GB per month. They leave ill-informed comments that such use can only be explained by some sort of illegal use such as downloading movies via bit-torrent, or similar claims of outlandish activities. The Telus representatives and spokesman seem to be under the same misconception.

Let me explain our usage pattern and you can judge for yourself if it is reasonable or not.

We use the Telus EV-DO service as a wireless replacement for high speed Internet service to our home (not mobile) because we live in a location that is out of reach of the wires. We cannot get DSL and we cannot get Cable. Also, there is not yet any WiMax systems within range. Satellite is not acceptable (too expensive, too slow, and too dorky). But we can see three 'cellphone' towers (Bell, Rogers, and Telus) from our living room window.

So when Telus announced the "Connect 75 Unlimited" wireless data plan (and Bell announced something very similar), we looked into it as an interim measure to get us connected while we wait (and wait and wait...) for another better, faster, much-cheaper high speed Internet option to become available (now promised for the end of 2009).

We decided on the Telus 'Connect 75 Unlimited' plan for reasons I've previously explained (Bell was being silly that week). We really made sure that the rate plan was really "unlimited" (confirmed by the Telus rep at the time as being "Unlimited" times five). I even mentioned the CTR-350 router and my exact plans for whole-household use. We made sure that we would always be grandfathered (confirmed by a Telus rep).

Once I had the modem in my hands, I ordered up the CTR-350 router. When the router arrived and was connected, suddenly our house in the forest was a WiFi hotspot. Since we live on a large property, there is no risk nor evidence of anyone outside our house using our WiFi. We do not share the service with the neighbours. I was so impressed that even started this blog to promote this new, almost-affordable, unlimited EV-DO service as a little-known option for people in similar circumstances.

Back to the question of usage and those light-duty laptop users not understanding about those that legitimately consume much more than about 5GB per month.

As mentioned above, our house in the forest was suddenly a WiFi hotspot enabled by EV-DO.

We have a laptop with WiFi.

We have a two desktops with added WiFi dongles.

All of these PCs require major software updates to the Windows OS and security software. All have had to download major service packs in the past few months (XP SP3, and Vista SP1). And all the many, many, many, many software applications installed all require regular updates. And because of the download managers used by the software vendors, you need to download the same updates three times (once to each PC).

I tend to keep my software and firmware up-to-date. Even the CTR-350 router needs regular software updates.

Some light-duty laptop users that have another mode of access at home, and just use the EV-DO when mobile... ...well they might not understand that EV-DO is our ONLY Internet access for the entire household.

And it isn't just the three PCs using the new EV-DO-powered WiFi hotspot.

We have a Nintendo Wii that is programmed to automatically download software updates, news and weather every night.

We have three Sony PSPs that all need to be updated with new firmware on a regular basis (several updates in the past few months).

And one of those PSPs (mine) is programmed to automatically download a large number of RSS feeds every night. I'll bet that just that one PSP goes through several GB per month by itself.

We have some other WiFi enabled gadgets that get occasional use.

Bit-torrent? We haven't used any such peer-to-peer application in at least six years. Never on Telus.

Downloading DVDs? Nope. We buy our DVDs the old fashioned way: in plastic boxes.

Endless hours of VOIP? Nope. I did make sure that my new Skype / Cordless phone worked with a short test call to the Skype robot, but I only use the device as a landline cordless telephone. We do not VOIP. We use the telephone line.

All this sort of normal run-of-the-mill usage, when combined with very active blogging (I have many blogs) and many, many, many hours of surfing the net easily bursts through 5GB of usage and heads up into the range of about 15GB to 20GB per month.

And that is before anyone starts talking about high levels of 'multi-media streaming'.

So what is reasonable in our case is what's required to support an entire (active) household. Not just occasional road-warrior mobile access for a laptop that has other options when not on-the-road. We're using EV-DO in the wireless mode of application (as advertised), not to support mobile access (we only ever used it mobile once, as a test).

The Telus rep Simon clearly stated to me that even our normal 15GB to 20GB per month was waaaaaay over the secret limit for the 'Unlimited' plan.

Which leads to the question of why they didn't contact me in:

November 2007: 2.8 GB (in the very first week of service)
December 2007: 14.3 GB
January 2008: 12.6 GB
February 2008, 13.3 GB

During our first telephone call recently (20 August 2008), the Telus rep Simon clearly stated, and I quote his exact words:

"5GB is cool."

That is an exact quote.

That telephone call was also the first time that I ever heard about a 5GB (or any other) limit to my "Unlimited" wireless data rate plan.


Anonymous said...

SaskTel still offers 'unlimited' EVDO wireless for $75/month. No silly limitations like Telus. And you can use it across Canada (and in the US, albeit at an exhorbiant fee).

I suggest you check them out,

Telus-sucks said...

An excellent suggestion for those with no other option.