Bell’s Internet Usage Meter is Off by Up-to 60 Hours

Bell Internet Max 16 logo Last March, I switched ISPs from Rogers to Bell’s fiber-to-the-building Internet Max 16 service. I made the switch at the same time I ‘cut the chord’ – dumping Rogers cable in favor of HD, over-the-air only, TV recorded on my Series 3 TiVo.

Bell offered me a one year promotional deal for their Internet Max 16 service where I would receive (in theory*) download speeds of up to 16 Mbps and 1 Mbps upload for $41.90 a month. At the time, my theoretical 10 Mbps down service from Rogers (with a 95 GB cap) was costing me $59.95 a month.

As with Rogers, all of Bell’s plans have data caps – much smaller than comparable U.S. ISPs I might add. The data cap for the service under the Internet Max 16 promotional offer is 100 GB. 

Periodically during each month, I check my Bell Internet usage meter** (shown below, after the jump) to make sure I’m staying within the 100 GB cap. This becomes particularly important towards the end of the month where I am always running up against the cap.

As you can see in the picture below (circled in red after the jump), Bell’s ‘My Internet usage’ meter contains fine print which reads:

Note: Current total Internet usage activity shown may be delayed by up to 60 hours.

Bell 'My Internet usage' meter

Despite assiduously checking the meter each month, making sure I stayed within the cap, I have twice received invoices from Bell saying I went over the 100 GB cap. How is this possible when I personally verify that I stay under the cap each month?

Until today, I hadn’t noticed this fine print warning – I’m not even sure it was there before.

Now, of course, I know why. Turns out it’s the fault of Bell’s Internet usage reporting tool. The tool shows data that is up to 60 hours (two and a half days) old!

Clicking on the record for Apr-May*** of 2009 the tool now shows an overage for the that period:

Bell 'My Internet usage' meter overage

As you can see, it shows I used 102.74 GB. 

However, I know I looked at the tool during the last couple days of that period and I purposely lowered my usage during those days to stay under the limit. On the last day it showed me at somewhere around the 98 or 99 GB usage. The 4 GB difference between what it showed me then, and what it shows now, and what I was billed extra for, can only be accounted for by the meter’s delay.

This isn’t right. What good is an Internet usage meter, when the meter isn’t accurately reporting usage on the very days I need it to be accurate the most?

* 16 Mbps Theoretical Download Speeds

I say that the 16 Mbps download is theoretical because I have tested it using (among others) several times since March and only once**** did it show I was getting more than 10 Mbps.

**My Internet Usage Page Buried

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On a related note, I’d like to point out that, just like Rogers, Bell makes it very difficult to use their ‘My Internet Usage’ meter. It is buried a half dozen pages deep on their site. You cannot link directly to it and save it in your browser’s favorites/bookmarks. If you do, the link just pulls you back to a main sign on page that forces you to navigate your way back through their maze to get to it. It also signs you off just minutes after you login. During the course of writing this post, Bell signed me out of the meter three times. I had to log back in, and navigate back through their maze three times to complete this post. Grrrr!

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*** Note, for whatever reason my period runs from the 4th day of one month to the 3rd day of the next.

**** It showed 11.94 Mbps once – at about 2 O’clock in the afternoon.