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Ultimately Overpriced: Videotron’s 120Mbps Service Usage Limited With Overlimit Fees That Don’t Quit

Phillip Dampier September 27, 2010 Broadband Speed, Canada, Editorial & Site News, Internet Overcharging, Vidéotron 7 Comments

Videotron last week unveiled 120/20Mbps broadband service loaded down with tricks and traps that will cost many Canadians far more than the $149.95CDN monthly asking price.

Québec’s largest cable operator introduced Ultimate Speed Internet 120 for “users who want to experience the fastest Internet access in Québec.”  But with a download limit of just 170GB per month combined with an upload limit of a paltry 30GB per month, what many Internet enthusiasts are also likely to experience is a huge bill.

Videotron is rolling out a high-speed Internet access service that will give residents of the Québec City area the fastest speeds in Canada. As of tomorrow, Ultimate Speed Internet 120 will support download speeds of 120 mbps and upload speeds of 20 mbps, a first for Québec City.

Ultimate Speed Internet 120 pushes back the frontier for intensive Internet users,” said Robert Dépatie, President & CEO of Videotron. “Today, we are launching the high-speed Internet service of the future. With the pace at which users’ needs are changing, we are not so far from the day when 120 mbps will be a must-have convenience.”

Astonishing capacity
As of tomorrow, Ultimate Speed Internet 120 will be available in nearly 80% of the greater Québec City area, or to nearly 310,000 households and businesses. The service will be accessible throughout the Québec City area by December 31, 2010 and will then be gradually rolled out to other parts of Videotron’s service area.

Astonishing Overcharging

Yanette is going to the bank to withdraw more funds to pay her exorbitant Videotron broadband bill.

Unlike many other Internet Overcharging plans from Canada’s usage cap-happy providers, Videotron’s highest-speed plans don’t limit the amount of overlimit fees customers will be exposed to once their allowance is exhausted.  In little more than three hours of usage at near-maximum speeds, overlimit fees of $1.50CDN per gigabyte kick in until your usage allows resets the following month.  That’s more than $50 an hour in overlimit fees if running the service near top speeds.

Videotron’s press release says those limits are “well in excess of the current needs of heavy bandwidth users.”

Even worse, Videotron targets its highest speed broadband plan for “traffic management,” which throttles upload speeds dramatically for customers who “have uploaded a statistically significant amount of data,” which is never defined:

Every 15 minutes, a system checks the usage rate for each upload channel (each upload channel typically serves a few dozen modems). If the usage rate has reached a threshold beyond which congestion is imminent, the system identifies the USI 120 modems on that channel that have uploaded a statistically significant amount of data. Uploading from these modems is then momentarily given lower priority. Depending on the severity and duration of the congestion, uploading speed may be slowed for these modems.  […]The above measures are applicable at all times.

That assures customers of a less-than-blazing-fast broadband experience they have paid top dollar to receive.  In effect, this means Videotron’s customers who pay three times the regular price for a concierge-like-broadband-experience are pushed to the back of the line if they actually use it.

A Videotron customer on Broadband Reports wrote, “It’s like driving a jet-car in an alley. You can probably start the engine, but don’t open the gas too much!”

Another customer from Montreal noted it takes no time at all for customers to blow through those kinds of limits:

This is merely a political play to be able to advertise as “the fastest ISP in Quebec/Canada”. Obviously such ridiculous caps are nowhere near the needs of someone who would pay $150 for that kind of speed, but they don’t mind saying things like “well in excess of the current needs of heavy bandwidth users” because 90% of the population, even the journalists themselves, have no idea what gigabytes are in the first place.

Considering most recent games released on Steam/D2D can be over 20GB, one HD episode is 1.3GB to stream each, 170GB is very little.

The cable operator will also throw some small bones to their existing customers effective Oct. 13:

  • Customers with Videotron’s standard High Speed Internet service ($42.95CDN – 7.5Mbps/720kbps) will get a 10 gigabyte usage allowance increase — to 40GB of usage per month.  The overlimit fee remains a stunning $4.50 per gigabyte, up to a maximum of $50 per month;
  • Upstream speeds on Ultimate Speed Internet 50 service ($81.95CDN – 50/1Mbps) will be doubled from 1Mbps to 2Mbps with no price increase.  Considering that plan limits consumption to 125GB per month, the faster speeds mean unlimited overlimit fees of $1.50 per month will add up even faster.

Delivering high speed broadband at premium prices with usage limits and speed throttles is a business plan disaster.  Customers willing to pay the highest prices for fast broadband don’t seek those Cadillac plans to browse web pages.  They want to leverage the fastest possible speeds to make high bandwidth applications work better and faster.  In a business environment, those faster speeds save time, which saves money.  But broadband providers who engage in Internet Overcharging schemes that limit use and charge confiscatory overlimit fees destroy demand for their own products, because few customers are willing to pay the premium prices these plans charge -and- expose themselves to overlimit fees if they happen to exceed an arbitrary usage limit.

Further south in the United States, Americans are still rejecting overpriced DOCSIS 3-premium speed broadband plans, and they come with no usage caps.  Time Warner Cable’s DOCSIS 3 expansion delivers a premium price on the resulting faster speed tiers, and the company managed to sign up fewer than 2,000 customers as of January.

Now imagine a plan that commanded a premium price -and- slapped a limit on usage.

As they say in Québec: c’est ridicule!

Currently there are 7 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    To be fair, 120/20 is faster than any cable provider offers in the US.

    Also, on the upload side, if Videotron is running a single 64QAM upload channel in their markets, you have to manage capacity for anyone to get their advertised speeds; there’s only 30 Mbps of capacity available on the whole channel. This is why Comcast only has 10 mbps of upload speed, and even the aggressive Cablevision has just 15 Mbps.

    Also, 170GB is more than 40GB…not as much as Comcast’s 250GB, but it’s not a paltry amount either. Particularly considering that at 120 Mbps most (but not all) websites can’t serve up content that fast.

  2. jr says:

    120Mbps you can only check your email with

    • BrionS says:

      Let’s not get carried away with hyperbole and look at some actual numbers…

      120Mbps (with a 170GB cap) is about 2.5 times faster than their next service level (50Mbps with a 40GB cap).

      — Price per GB with the 120 plan ($149.95) is $0.88/GB with a 170GB cap
      — Price per GB with the 50 plan ($81.95) is $0.66/GB with a 125GB cap
      — Price per GB with the standard plan ($42.95) is $1.07/GB with a 40GB cap

      The fastest way to blow through your downstream bandwidth is by downloading large files. The article gives a few examples, so let’s take them and see how they equate to real numbers.

      Games on Steam/DD are about 20GB each (debatable that most are that big, but let’s assume for the sake of argument this is accurate).

      — With 120 plan that’s 8 games downloaded a month (that’s a lot even for a gamer!) leaving only 10GB for everything else
      — With 50 plan that’s 2 games downloaded per month (more likely) leaving only 10GB for everything else
      — With standard plan that’s 2 games downloaded per month leaving no extra bandwidth for anything else (probably including playing the games)

      So far the 50 plan is the best value per GB but somewhat limited downloading large games — the 120 plan seems to suit that just fine with plenty of room to spare for most people (i.e. those not downloading 160GB of games per month)

      How about streaming video? 1 HD episode (presumably 1 hour each) they claim is 1.3GB.

      — With the 120 plan that’s 130 hours (or 5 days, 24 hours per day) of TV per month. For some people this is a lot (like me), for some it may be average or (*shudder*) low. This leaves 130MB for everything else.
      — With the 50 plan that’s 96 hours (or 4 days of non-stop TV-watching) leaving 18MB for everything else
      — With the standard plan that’s 30 hours (or 1+ days of non-stop TV) leaving 30MB for everything else

      OK, so with the 120 plan side from being slightly pricier than the 50 plan on a per GB basis, it seems to be somewhat reasonable in terms of being able to download games, watch tv, and do everything else within moderation (I find my own average usage to hover around 40GB/month including streaming video episodes, downloading games, playing games, steaming music, etc.)

      Now how about that upstream throttling thing? How unfair is that?!

      Let’s consider what they’ve said it will do, when it will kick in, and for how long. The article suggests that throttling will only kick in when the network determined that “congestion is imminent” and then it zeros in on the biggest uploaders (say…someone hosting a torrent?). Does it kill their connection? No. Does it ban their account? No. It throttles their upstream speed to avoid congestion. The upload continues albeit more slowly. When the threat of congestion is gone the throttle is lifted and the upload may resume using more bandwidth (presumed by the language used above).

      Isn’t this what we wanted network management to be? Indescriminate (not just for torrenters or streaming video), dynamic, and temporary…

      While I think they should be more clear in their language regarding what “imminent congestion” and “statistically significant” means, the latter can be defined in mathematical terms relative to an average (mean).

      Do I think caps are unnecessary for network management? Absolutely!
      Could this plan be improved? Absolutely!
      Is this offering something we should jump up and down and shout about simply because they do have caps? Probably not.

      After all, they’re moving somewhat in the direction we want with regard to throttling behaviors — target only the biggest offenders and slow them down temporarily during peak times. They still have caps and as long as those caps trend up as the average use trends up there shouldn’t be a problem for the vast majority of people.

      The only group of people that are probably still hurt by this are people who use online backup systems and need to upload/download a very large system backup such that they blow through their cap. Backups can be well into the TBs, but then again do these people really expect to restore a 1TB+ backup from the Internet to their machine in a reasonable amount of time? A local backup solution is probably more secure and faster for that situation.

      Let’s try to take a critical (but not cynical) look at these deals before we pull out the pitchforks and hyberbole.

      (In case you’re interested, you could send/receive 3,021,320 emails with a cap of 170GB based on the average size of an email being 59KB — http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=312463)

      • R says:

        Dear BrionS (Videotron employee),

        You want numbers? The price of this plan is 150$ per month. A hundred and f****ng fifty dollars per month. That’s 2000$ per year. And you dare put a bandwidth cap on me, and a low a** one. And with all that you still throttle. Wtf happened? I know that’s not PKP’s idea.

        Please make us have a good laugh and release the number of subscribers to this plan.

        I’m out.

  3. zee says:

    screw videotron.

  4. Phil says:

    I’ve had the pitchfork out for a couple of years, they have been reducing the usage amounts since they have been doing business. I know a time where only a few select plans had limits, now you need to go on the “Business” side of Videotron to get an unlimited plan, and pay extra of course.

    I’m not going to go limited and have to make my “internet months” fit in Videotron’s vicious policy of usage and over charging. I’m going to download as many episodes and movies (15gb+ for a 1080p) through NetFlix, and download as many games through Steam as I want, and you aren’t going to shove me some averages and statistics on how I should spend my internet. It’s Videotron that should get some statistics shoved in their face (or somewhere else), because using 100GB of internet for a average person is actually normal with the technology we have, we aren’t in 1999 FFS. They need to take a couple of dozen millions from their weekly allowance and fix up their network, because people are going to realize quickly what direction this whole “usage limits” deal is going.

    I’m with unlimited and I’ve run up my “usage” to 250GB in 2 weeks. I did half of that in the last 3 days. Go ahead and figure how much that would cost me in overcharge on your dear “Super-duper 120MBPS” plan. That is 4.50$ per gigabyte, up to 50$, (a 120$ bill for a normal basic internet connection), or 1.50$, unlimited, so that is around 300$ of overcharge.

    There is no point if you have the fastest internet but can only use it slowly. How much would be my bill if I would be fully using that 120MBPS plan from 11am to 7pm for the whole month.

    This is all bullshit

  5. Limitbreaker says:

    i absolutely agree, im really upset with this internet usage cap! it’s ludicrous!
    in my household we’re 3 people who’s using the internet and none of us are heavy users but 170gig is tiny. saying that 170gig is enough because you’d have to watch netflix for 5days straight to cap it is rediculous because internet isnt meant for one thing every month. the internet bandwidth isnt made out of of crude oil, it is not a resource and we shouldnt have limits on it as if its to save the planet! it is just electronic datas and it shouldnt cost me more than what i pay for gas every month. with 3 people who use netflix on many different devices, 2 of them who use steam and might download demos or full games, 2 of them who download things on the playstation 3 network might it be games, trailors, demo’s or shows/movies…. 3 of us who use things like youtube regularly…. it is very hard to manage internet usage, specially if 170gig can be attained in the first week. now i have no problem paying a premium price within reason but paying 120$ a month plus 1.50$ per gig after the first 170g for the average of 400gig we need in a month is rediculous. do the calculation… and with 120Mb/sec its specially hard to control usage.
    there is no way around these heavy rip off from videotron, i’ve tried bell canada and its the same story on the other side, even if you get 10Mbit youll still get charged a ton of money.

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