Rogers ISP of Canada breaks into your browsing session to tell you off for using the net too much

The terrible Canadian ISP Rogers has reached a new low. Now, in addition to arbitrarily enforcing limits on connectivity and "traffic shaping" its customers' connections into unusability (just try to have a VoIP call with a Rogers subscriber!), they're breaking into your web-browsing sessions and rewriting the pages you view to deliver stern warnings saying that you're using too much bandwidth. The ISP will let you opt out -- but this is so obnoxious, it's hard to believe they're even trying it. Link (Thanks, Marc!)


  1. I’m of two minds.

    One, at least they’re warning you before they screw you over.

    Two, thank God I’m with 3web.

    I have no idea what they’d do if I used 75 GB in a month, since I never have, but at least they’re cheaper.

  2. Let’s get rational for a second here; the ISP is trying to inform you you’re reaching your limit, so you don’t overshoot it and start having to pay extra. Lets put arguments about limits aside (after all, you’ve agreed to a contract involving limits). It’s in their interests _not_ to inform you, as you’d have to start paying them extra. But they’re trying to find a more pervasive way of letting you know. How else can they do it? Via email? They’d just send it to the email address they provide you with. Who really uses isp-provided email these days? it’s all webmail, so they need some window to get through to you, and maybe http is that window.

  3. Man I wish ma bell did this back when I had a 50 GB/Month download limit. Now I have unlimited and they just shape me to death when I go over 30 GBs of Bittorrent downloading. They don’t shape my Youtube traffic though. Something like this would have saved me hundreds of dollars…

  4. don’t forget British Telecom. They have different ‘options’. The cheapest one is 5gb/month. All come with the delight of Bittorrent throttling meaning that bewteen 7am-10pm your bittorrent download speed is maxed at 20kb/s. There is a way around this, but then you immediately come up against the bandwidth limit.

    Telewest may have gone downhill since Virgin took it over, but it still offers unthrottled Internet with no monthly bandwidth allowance – This puts it streets ahead for me.

  5. I agree with VIK, this “break in” looks to me like a feature which can be useful to many users.

    I once had an ISP which messed with your browsing sessions in an really annoying way. Every time you dialled in, the first page would be redirected to the providers homepage. It regularly broke downloads or saved browsing sessions… THAT sucked.

  6. I’m with Vik here giving you a warning when you approach your limit makes sense, assuming that the person currently viewing the page is the account holder; and can therefore acknowledge recipt of the message, does not. so rudely phrased and executed a but an acceptable idea.

    On a Different note, 75gig WTF…….

    I live in Australia and im on what is absurdly referred to as an unlimited service. Which amounts to 14gig off peak (12 midnight to midday) and 7 gig peak time a month for about $55 (there are cheaper, but none as fast or reliable as optus cable).
    serious household limits are applied to torrenting and youtubeing. and we count ourselves lucky. Most introduction broadband services range between 250mg and 5 gig a month (techno phobic relatives have to be warned of such plans lest their windows system update breach thier monthly limit on first connection).

  7. Wow, the only thing this screams to me is – internet is expensive where you people live! Depending on whether you get any of the special deals, internet around here costs 20-40 dollars a month for unlimited access… no limits, no shaping, no throttles. I guess I’m lucky to live in an area where there is still some competition. From what I’ve seen, most of these horror stories seem to come from near-monopoly areas.

  8. I pull 75 gigs in a DAY sometimes.

    Thank goodness Shaw is the king out here in Western Canada. Rogers stands for everything evil in telecom. Their customer service was crap so they had an about face, and all of a sudden their phone staff spoke perfect english (Not broken english like they did before) and asked me how my day was.

    It felt more evil…

  9. I’m also a New Zealander, with our second most popular ISP. My cap is 60GB and my upstream as fast as ADSL1 will possibly allow. Extra usage costs me $10NZD per 5GB (thanks to the govt, these costs are expected to be reduced to a mere fraction of the current by the end of next year). There is NO traffic shaping on ANY plans offered by my ISP.

    I’m really not sure what @HUGH_LILLY is complaining about – aside from temporarily high bandwith costs, we have perfectly acceptable internet access.

  10. 75 gig! lol that’s like saying a trillion gazillion gig! in South Africa I get 6 gig a month. On average we pay 22UDS per gig and that doesn’t include line rental (another 75USD for a 4MB line). Lol come live here for a month and find something real to complain about.

  11. Surely they are infringing on Google’s copyright? I’d imagine they’d be pretty pissed about the Yahoo logo showing at the top of their page as well.

  12. Until Rogers cleans up their act, their traffic-shaping of ALL encrypted packets made me switch to teksavvy ( $30/mo buys me 200GB Cap (combined up and down), 5M/800k down/up respectively, no traffic-shaping of any kind or any other service-altering policies.

  13. Would they choose certain pages to rewrite, or do it not matter what page?

    That would have quite some security-implications.

    Some webpages are official documents, then it would be on the verge of document-forgery. Rogers needs to be very careful doing that…

  14. When they start delivering ads this way it will be a problem. Warnings that you’re going over your bandwidth quota seem somewhat reasonable.

  15. Rogers really pissed me off a few years ago when they called me up and told me I’d downloaded more than some arbitrary limit, and that I risked having my account terminated unless I reduced my usage. I ditched them immediately for a local ISP (there are literally over 100 ISPs in Toronto so take your pick! –

    However, I’ve since switched back to Rogers and I gotta say, the fact that they’re upfront with their bandwidth caps makes all the difference. Their most popular package, Rogers Express, grants you 60GB per month (or maybe 75 now as the screenshot above shows), but since my wife and I cancelled our Rogers cable TV (Miro FTW!) we switched to Rogers Extreme which allows 100GB per month. That’s a lot of gigs, and they come down at 8Mb/s.

    Rogers has redeemed itself to me. They even offered to reconnect our TV at no charge which was kind, but seriously folks, the content on Miro is a zillion times more fulfilling, poignant, and enjoyable – especially with my super speedy Rogers connection.

  16. I really hate Rogers. They’re one of the worst ISPs in Canada. The have been throttling bandwidth, unannounced, since well before the Comcast debacle down south. I recently canceled my TV and internet with them due to the high cost and low service. Miro and an antenna (free over the air HD!) helped ween me off the tube and a local DSL ISP hooked me up with a dry-line service for half the cost and all the speed. I’ll save my usual rant against ‘Robbers’ for another day but trust me when I say that you will overpay for a service that they will never deliver.

  17. seriously what are you using 56 GB a month doing? Not that I don’t think unlimited should mean unlimited but this begs the question.

    I trade in a lot of free flac and SHN concerts and I don’t approach that type of traffic size.

  18. @sardion2000

    if you’re watching 30G of youtube in one week then you need to step outside and get some sun.

    I can usually convert a 2.5 hr video down to 1GB at a very very good quality. So using this as a benchmark I would say that in order to use 30GB of traffic in 1 week you would have to had spent 75 hours watching youtube. Furthermore, youtube vids are far lower quality than the video I produce so I might up that hour count to 100. QED

    I seriously doubt your 30Gigs in a week data is accurate. However, feel free to prove me wrong.

  19. “seriously what are you using 56 GB a month doing? Not that I don’t think unlimited should mean unlimited but this begs the question.”

    actually, it raises the question, it doesn’t beg anything.

  20. So far it’s a non-story. What it should say is:

    “Here is a list of the torrents you downloaded to reach the 75% of 75Gb point, we’re sending it to the RIAA along with your home address and a recent photo we have of you. Press OK to acknowledge. Have a nice day.”

    THEN I’ll accept you bellyaching about it.

  21. Well I’ve basically had enough of Rogers & Bell. Paying for throughput only to have your traffic shaped to death is pathetic.

    Does anyone have any other suggestions for good alternatives in Toronto?

  22. I agree that it’s good for an ISP to notify users if they’re coming up against an arbitrary usage cap like this, but I really don’t buy the “they can’t do it over email, so they have to hijack your web sessions” excuse.

    How does my ISP know that any individual HTTP request is something I’m going to view in my web browser? Half the applications I use daily sling HTTP requests around for various purposes that I never see — version checks, RSS feed updates, Twitter updates, etc, etc.

    Do I really want my ISP potentially screwing up one of those applications in a hard-to-reproduce and hard-to-debug way because they guessed wrong and assumed that any HTTP fetch was me sitting in front of my web browser surfing around?

    It’s a lousy solution from a technical standpoint, even if it didn’t feel overly-intrusive and creepy.

  23. I’m on the side where this seems like a semi-reasonable hack for a tough technical problem.

    In terms of “guessing wrong”, given the google screenshot, it might be that the issue isn’t “what if they put this on something obscure that I don’t actually look at” but “what if I don’t look at one of the popular sites that they’ve chosen to overwrite”.

    The potential for abuse is troubling, but I think I like it better than a quiet “now the meters running!” switchover.

  24. This amounts up to complaining that the deck chairs on the Titanic keep sliding off to one side of the deck. The problem here is that they enforce this arbitrary limit, not that they warn you that you’re coming up on it.

  25. Can’t you just bump up from Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Extreme to the Rogers Yahoo! Hi-Speed Mega-Extreme or Super-Mega-Extreme plan?

  26. Danegeld

    THEN I’ll accept you bellyaching about it.

    Under US copyright law, you’re not allowed to alter other peoples’ content and present it as their own. Not sure if that’s true in Canada or not, but it’s still highly questionable.

    That Yahoo ad button, for instance, might be cause for legal action on Google’s part.

    (Of course, this is exactly the same argument I made when Google started altering my Usenet posts by stripping email addresses from them, and it fell on deaf ears.)

  27. Er, aren’t (most of) you completely missing the point?

    This ISP is monitoring its users’ http requests. (A violation of its users’ privacy.)

    Then, when a user sends a particular http request, in this case to a third-party search engine, this ISP inserts its own content over top of the third party’s content, in the form of a banner ad. (Numerous potential violations including copyright infringement, misrepresentation by the ISP as being endorsed by the third party, and theft of ad revenue from the third party who might otherwise sell that space.)

    Also, this ISP unexpectedly includes in its message private account information about its user, regardless of who may be looking at the screen at that moment. (A further violation of its users’ privacy.)

    All this comes from an ISP who has already committed practically every abuse possible, from illegal contract terms, secret bandwidth caps and active blocking of URLs for political reasons.

    I think I’ll contact Google, and ask them what they think about this…

  28. @wolfrider

    1. I live in Toronto, Canada and the weather for most of the year is less then ideal so I spend a lot of time inside.

    2. I listen to A LOT of music on Youtube and I have it set to never keep a cache due to a severe shortage of disk space.

    It’s actually about 50 to 60 hours of music videos a week so I exaggerated a bit, but not by much.

  29. @wolfrider

    You also missed the point as well. I’m saying that Ma Bell distinguishes for some reason. I guess it’s the overhead of torrent traffic that they hate.

  30. One of the big issues I have with this is that Rogers has not enforced bandwidth limits for a while and their bandwidth measurement tool has been busted for ages (this may have changed).

    There’s going to be a tonne of people who are going to be stunned with their bill. This sort of notification is still a disturbing intrusion. They should send out a mailing warning that their going to begin enforcing.

    Personally, I’ve had it with Rogers and Bell. Is Yak any better? There MUST be a good ISP. I’m willing to pay more for better service and no-traffic shaping… and I don’t even use torrents! Just tired of the whole thing and lousy, crippled service.

  31. “seriously what are you using 56 GB a month doing? Not that I don’t think unlimited should mean unlimited but this begs the question.”

    A lot of things. I’ve gone over >1TB of usage in a month, with nary a complaint from my ISP.

    And here I thought it was us Yanks who had crappy broadband options.

  32. I have a friend who uses rogers who told me that if he links to a page, then someone following the link gets added to his bandwidth usage.

    I’m pretty sure that’s not how things work, but if they’re telling him that…

  33. In similar annoyance-related news, Embarq (previously Sprint) has enabled a typo correction and DNS error redirect “service.” Your mistyped URLs are now an opportunity to make some money off of your eyeball bandwidth.

    The service does give an opt-out option, which is cookie-based. If you happen to clean out your cookies on a regular basis, though… Tough luck.

  34. You could think of it less as “Hacking the site” and more of “adding an overlay”, its not changing the content of the website its just linking in a bit of script that informs you of your usage. It is not advertising their products or others, its not violating your privacy in anyway. They are not collecting any data on you they dont already have, just your usage, which is already monitored. If it was a seperate program that ran in your system tray and popped up a friendly little window, would it be different then? but then it would take up system resources. If you check through your contract you’d see that all information about you is with-held under the privacy act, and cannot be sold or traded, and also no advertising is solicited. Rogers has the right to display advertisements for its own products however, on its own site. The most that notice is going to tell you is that the package your on is too small for your usage patterns and if your going to continue using that amount of bandwidth it may recommend upgrading to save YOU money in the long run. Or you can click to ignore those notices forever, you’ll never see them again, and rogers will charge you for every gig over 75 a month, and honestly if your downloading over 75 gigs a month, your internet must be working properly at the speeds your paying for, so whats to complain about?

  35. Wow! I have AT&T Yahoo! Hi-Speed DSL. They are unlimited for US$20/month. I hope they don’t start using what you are all calling caps/capped. I have never heard of this before.

  36. Can’t seem to sign in right now. I’m not a Rogers customer, but I am a Canadian who is up against these insane limits.

    My ISP is a small one which covers my rural area (Shaw has not reached us yet and TELUS insists there aren’t enough people, 30km outside Calgary, to warrant service). That may be why they limit me to 35 gigs a month.

    For the people who are giving the rest of us static about “how could you POSSIBLY use xx a month”, consider things like NetFlix, iTunes offering full seasons of television shows for download, and etc. This is the reality of the Internet these days and we shouldn’t get aggrieved for using the net normally.

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