In the future, we'll all be Bandwidth Hogs  -

In the future, we’ll all be Bandwidth Hogs 

The people being derided as hogs are simply early adopters


The fact that Internet Service Providers feel comfortable calling their best customers “hogs” is a good indicator that something is not right with broadband service in Canada. It takes nerve (or a comfy monopoly) to call your own subscribers swine for using the services you offer in the exact way you offer them (“Extreme!” “Blaze Through Bytes!” “Push Your Surfing Limits!”).

Yet the broadband hog slag has been used so often to justify various “network management” practices that it’s become a default moniker, adopted uncritically by the press to describe heavy users.

(To be fair, when Maclean’s, which is owned by Rogers, published an editorial in support of usage based billing, the term “bandwidth hog” was not used.  Every other highly-contested claim and opinion of the major ISPs was repeated, but at least they didn’t call users hogs!)

But just who are these “bandwidth hogs” anyway?  My friends, they are the future of the Internet.

We are told that the average Canadian Internet user today consumes a humble 16 gigs of bandwidth per month—not like those greedy hogs who burn upwards of 100! But not long ago, sucking down 16 gigs of data would have made you a prize pig. In 2003 for example, Bell’s most expensive plan capped users at 5 gigs per month.  At the time, that may have been plenty for most users, who surfed the web, checked email, and perhaps downloaded some MP3s. But if you were interested in online video, you could easily have gone over, incurring $8/gig overage fees as you did. Hitting 16 would have cost you $88 on top of your subscription fee- call it a “hog tax”.

But those hogs of 2003 were in fact early-adopters. YouTube brought online video to the mainstream in 2005, and the average amount of data downloaded per user quadrupled over the next three years.

Today’s heavy users are downloading HD videos and using the cloud as their own personal hard drive. With 18 gig BluRay files and 100 gigabyte Dropbox accounts, these power users can easily blast through an average subscriber’s allotment in an afternoon. ISPs respond as they did in ’03, deriding them as hogs and throttling their transfers while simultaneously dinging them for massive overages.

Of course, in a year or two, downloading HD movies and storing your entire hard drive online will be mainstream activities, and ISPs will be advertising their ability to deliver them at turbo speeds. Same goes for mobile, where tethering and video streaming are today’s highly-taxed hog habits, and tomorrow’s mainstream mainstays.

Maybe instead of gouging and insulting these users, ISPs should study their habits to glean valuable predictive data that can inform how they build out their networks for the future. Maybe they’re doing both.


In the future, we’ll all be Bandwidth Hogs 

  1. What's best is that the ISPs are convincing people that they are 'subsidizing' the 'hogs.' As if over-use penalties for those hogs are going to actually reduce your internet bill.

  2. You'd almost think that they hate their best customers – wait – they do hate their best customers!

    And of course the other issue is that they don't want to have to spend any money to have to improve service, that would impact on their bottom line, wouldn't it? So they are going to fight tooth and nail to avoid having to do this. Expect to see a stream of lobbyists descend on Parliament Hill arguing that overcharging Canadians is good business, and good for Canadians.

    • And the reason why is not laid bare in this piece, but I'll take a stab at it: Bell and Rogers want you doing your video watching on your TV, where they can make much more money off you, rather than via downloaded video. I'm not exactly sure where Telus stands on this, but they have at the very least not been demonizing heavy users in this way.

      • I know. That was obvious the second Rogers started offered free HD TV over the net to try and retain watchers, while charging for bandwidth if you went anywhere else.

  3. the average Canadian Internet user today

    Correction: The average Canadian Internet user in 2009 consumed 16 Gb/month.

    Much like your example illustrates (comparing 2003 vs 2009 use), if we were to compare 2009 to 2011 (or even better, 2012 projected use), we'd likely find a significant difference.

    I'm not sure what's more pathetic : that the major ISPs would use 2009 data to make their UBB case, or that the CRTC totally agreed with them without considering that 2009 figures are probably as obsolete today as a second-generation iPhone.

    On a side note: My friend lived in Japan, and he said the Japanese ISPs encourage people to use more bandwidth. Imagine that: A service provider encouraging people to use more of their services… what a revolutionary concept! Maybe the execs at Rogers and Bell should spend a few months on an educational trip to the land of the rising sun.

    • The Japs have always been 5-10 years ahead of the western world when it comes to media consumption. They realised long ago that augmenting bandwidth is a very cheap way to accelerate hardware improvement and upgrade sales.

      • FYI: It has not been acceptable to use the term "the Japs" since about 1944.

  4. I'm surprised people aren't more upset about this. Imagine if your cable provider announced one day that they think you're watching too much T.V., and from now on they're going to charge you $10 per episode for every show you watch once you've watched 60 shows in a month. Or if your landline provider said you were making too many calls, and from now on once you've made 100 calls in a month they're going to start making your phone calls progressively more difficult to hear until one day you just can't make any more calls until the next month.

    What's particularly galling is that the companies that are doing their darnedest to get us to consume more data, and the companies that are trying to punish us for using too much data are the SAME COMPANIES. The people at Rogers calling me a bandwidth hog are simply in a different division of Rogers from the people at Rogers who are pushing me to use more bandwidth. Rogers insulting me is bad enough, but insulting me for doing the thing that Rogers is pushing me to do??? It's crazy.

    • I'm surprised people aren't more upset about this.

      The online petition gathered close to half a million signatures. As Jesse stated on his podcast, this is the most signatures any online petition has ever gathered in this country. I'd say the public is plenty aware and upset about this. It got to the point where the PM himself couldn't ignore it and stepped in to press the CRTC to re-think their decision.

      Don't get me wrong, I wish the petition would have another half-million signatures and more, but I have to admit that it's a very impressive number, and I've noticed a lot of people (in the media, and with friends/colleagues) are talking about this. Considering alll this, how can you say the public is insufficiently upset? Let me rephrase that, because I'm not trying to sound mean-spirited or derogatory (I know emotions don't always come across on these comment boards… I merely ask out of curiosity and not malice or anything). What I'm asking is: what would you consider to be an appropriate response?

  5. Also, 16Gb a month?

    I get a message from Rogers that I'm approaching my 60 Gb limit EVERY SINGLE MONTH now, and I live alone and work all day. How does anyone get by on 16Gb a month in 2011? There are people out there (extremely few, true, but they are out there) who use that much data every month on their CELLULAR plan. As others have noted above, I doubt that the average is 16 anymore, and it wouldn't surprise me if it's significantly higher than that already.

    • Rogers wants the average client to use their 60GB per month package.. I did the math.. I watch every day on line: the Daily Show, Colbert Report, Conan O'brian jokes segment, few to lots of Youtube videos, then depending on the day of the week I watch different shows, like CSI, Degrassi, Criminal Minds, Jersey Shore, the odd movie, blah blah etc .. I rack up 1-2Gb easily per day..

      so lets do our math people..

      2GB x 30 days per month = 60Gb.

      How more evident is it ?!

      It's not a coincidence that not more than a year ago bandwidth caps were lowered from 80Gb to 60Gb and the prices jacked. WE ARE PAYING MORE FOR LESS and we supposed to thank them ?? Even worse is they are about to do the same again by adopting the same metering charges they use on cell phone providers.

      I monitor my bandwidth daily to ENSURE I USE ALL OF IT !!! … if I am paying 60-80 bucks per month, you best believe I will download every single mega bite I pay for… so every month near the end of the month, I go bat crazy finding movies, music, TV shows anything I can get my greedy hands to download, even if I have no desire to download these items… I have so many Gig's of music I have not heard yet it will take me years to hear it all … OUTRAGEOUS!! They've made me become an "internet hog", but what does that make them ??.. forcing people to download every cent they pay

  6. I got 2 options for people mad about this:

    1. Go sign a digital petition to downvote the UBB (Usage Based Billing) here: – Online petition, 460,000 people already signed this!

    2. Go check out new ideas of governance here: (crappy self made website, good ideas tho!)… – Facebook upvote or show up to help build such a voting machine.

    One day instead of the focus on one vote you give away to some "leader" to vote "for" you, you'll go online, click yes and no yourself, and see how it measures up vs our still existing 5 year term voting leader's decisions.… – This is a Reddit post I'm also looking for upvotes/opinions on.

    Live for the swarm!

  7. Well said Jesse. If Roger$ gives you the boot after this article, I hear Teksavvy is hiring. They can't seem to keep up with new account sign ups. Not sure why… they are only offering packages that the entire rest of the world is offering.

  8. It costs money to build and maintain networks (if they are maintained like highways by government (lol) it would cost a great deal more). I believe the information highway for pennies a GB was a netflix CEO quote that happens to attract a lot of opinions – flesh that opinion out please – show me the data

    • Building yes but maintenance no. However the lifetime throughput costs for networks comes down to fraction of pennies per Gigabyte.

    • Someone will find you a link I'm sure, but I don't think ANYONE argues that it costs them whole pennies per Gb. Most estimates I saw were more in the 1/10th to 1/5th of a penny per Gb. range.

      • I'm too lazy to do the math on my work lunch time and I have a few estimated numbers: I worked for a friends that has a small wireless ISP company that serves remote locations. In the last four years he probably spent about 5 million dollars in equipment and labour, which have about a 20 year service life but usually there are upgrades to be made every 5 years. As of right now the yearly data troughput is probably in the petabytes.

        • 20 year service life? what is it a Volvo – lol

  9. Jesse, are you still there? Kudos to you, Jesse Brown!
    I'm proud of you for taking the risk to say it as it is. It's about time someone wrote an article that breaks through the big telcos hype and misinformation..

  10. Why is there even a cap on our usage….isn't the internet a commondity that will never end? Its not like oil or trees, it was created for this exact reason. So why bother trying to tell us, the consumers, that we use too much of what we are being provided? We pay our monthy dues to use this, we should be able to use however much we need. Its not like the internet is going anywhere…
    This is the same as telling people that they go to the library too much. But wait, we don't go to the library any more because we can now get every book we ever wanted online, we can access every university website and we can research for information on ailments and things that interest us every day….sounds like a portable library to me. So yes, lets put a cap on internet usage…it will just nerf the world.

  11. Reminds me of this:

    Not only are you using too much computers and TV, you're using too much power! Go back to the dark ages customers! We don't want your business! The computer age is over, get used to the 1800s all over again.