Charges to target the one in five customers who exceed data limits
Internet users beware: Telus will soon start charging customers who exceed their monthly data allowance.
Telus has data caps built into its various Internet plans, but it had never before charged customers for exceeding them.
Starting March 30, the company will automatically bill customers for additional 50 gigabyte “data buckets” if they slip past their allowance, according to its website.
The first “bucket” will cost $5, subsequent pails of data will go for $10 apiece up to a monthly maximum fee of $75, and any unused data will expire at the end of the month.
Shawn Hall, a Telus spokesman, said consumer demand for Internet data has doubled in the last 16 months, causing the company to “re-examine” its policy.
“The usage charges allow us to continue to support the investment required to meet growing demand for Internet data without impacting the majority of customers who stay within their monthly data allowance,” he said.
Those allowances start at just 30 GB a month for Telus’ Internet 1 service and increase to 500 GB for its top Internet 100 plan. Shaw Internet has similar data allowances, but at this point the company does not penalize those who exceed monthly caps.
Some Internet users may not be aware of how quickly data can be eaten up.
When Netflix users stream a movie in standard definition they are using about 1 GB of data per hour — or 3 GB per hour for high-definition video. Just a handful of HD movies on Netflix would push some users over their monthly data cap, and that’s without any other Internet use.
Even households that don’t stream television could exceed small monthly data caps without much effort. Updating computer software, downloading or updating apps from the Apple or Google store, video conferencing on FaceTime or Skype, and sharing or syncing photos or videos all use heaps of data.
“Internet capacity is not infinite,” said Hall, noting that Telus’ residential customers are now using 104,000 terabytes per month. A terabyte is one thousand gigabytes.
Asked if Telus customers were approaching the upper limit of the company’s overall capacity, Hall could not say, but noted: “we invest billions of dollars to stay ahead of demand.”
Hall said about 80 per cent of users stay within their data allowance and customers can look at their past bills to get a sense of how much data they are using.
“We don’t want customers to be surprised by this,” he said.
Telus has 1.5 million Internet customers in B.C., Alberta and eastern Quebec, but the company does not break down its subscribers by province, said Hall.
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