Personal,  Technology

Rogers – All About FAST

I saw this ad today from Rogers, which makes me laugh a little.  But fume a lot more.

There are 31 words in the above ad, even counting the subtext.  In that span, they manage to use the word FAST five times.  I guess I should be happy to be with Rogers (for mobile and for residential Internet) then, since they’re so concerned with speed!

I switched to Rogers from Bell/Sympatico because I was paying for 7Mbit/s and getting 2.4Mbit/s – even after being put through an inconvenient modem swap that didn’t seem to do anything.  At the end of 2007, a program called Marketwatch on CBC (Canada’s largest broadcaster) did a segment on this – and found that Rogers delivered 92% of promised speed for a 7Mbit/s plan, whereas Bell was way behind at just 16% of a 5Mbit/s plan.  Rogers SVPs were internally boasting about those results!  The segment was here: (the actual video doesn’t play anymore for me).

Good thing I switched, right? Internet being as critical as it is for me, I got both services installed before cancelling service with Bell.  Indeed, Rogers delivered what it claimed; showed close to the full bandwidth being delivered.  Alas, that was then – and this is now:

I’m a Rogers High Speed Extreme customer, paying for a 10Mbit/s plan.  Getting 16% of what I pay for, like Bell customers apparently enjoy, would apparently now be an improvement.

No, nobody is siphoning off my Internet connection – or else I would hit the bandwidth caps that are imposed on all Rogers customers, and they’d be charging me.  No, I’m not running BitTorrent or any other peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software, which Rogers is known to throttle.  I even understand that Rogers has apparently messed up their P2P throttling implementation and mistakenly throttled low-bandwidth games like World of Warcraft – and presumably also Starcraft 2, which I play frequently, and in which I suffer frequent, annoying network disruptions; Ars Technica posted about this a month or so ago.

But the speed issues don’t stop there; YouTube used to work nicely at 1080p (and still does, for the rest of the world) but now generally struggles at 720p – and sometimes even as low as 360p. similarly stutters even at low-definition – I guess they throttle video, and throttle games, and double-throttle videos about games!  Oddly enough, the high quality 720p HD video on Vimeo generally seems OK, so even this appears to be the influence of some kind of intentional traffic shaping.

As if that weren’t enough, Rogers insists on pouring salt on the wound with ads like this:

Is this like when clothing stores mark up their merchandise by 50% and then say “everything must go, all merchandise 50% off”?  Heck no, because the clothes would still be a good deal (50% off the marked up price would be 75% of the original price)! This is more like noticing that video and gaming are slow, and Rogers saying “Slow? You’re seeing the boosted speed – you should see what we reduced regular speeds to!”. Given that Rogers already stated to the CRTC that they had issues with gaming and couldn’t fix it anytime soon, it’s amazing that they simultaneously asked the marketing department to run something like the above.  “We can’t make it fast, so at least let’s make people think it’s fast!”.

Given their stated P2P (i.e. “downloading activities”) throttling policies, I take the above to mean that even if Rogers fixes the current issues, you get 10Mbit/s to read plain text E-mails and websites; for everything else you get 1/10th of that, which they may generously boost up to 2Mbit/s at their discretion, of course.

So let’s finally come back to LTE – Roger’s site for this is  It claims speeds up to 150Mbit/s – a full 15 times faster than my Rogers High Speed “Extreme” residential Internet (it’s extreme all right… extremely slow), and more than 100 times faster that my actual throughput with Rogers right now.  Heck, maybe I should just get a wireless plan and switch to that, even at 5% of what they claim it should be a win!  Speaking of plans…

Clicking the picture above will let you see Rogers plans for yourself; you’ll immediately notice that they’re all called “UNLIMITED VOICE & DATA PLANS”, but none of them are actually unlimited – indeed every plan is defined by exactly how limited it is.  Oh, but you get an unlimited number of Facebook status updates, and all the 140-character tweets you can eat, that explains it!

That 1GByte plan is the largest plan that Rogers offers; additional data is $0.05/MB.  If Rogers delivered on its 150Mbit/s promise, then you could use up your entirely monthly allotment of data in 53.3 seconds.  Oh, and after that?  Just $0.93 per second – 56 dollars per minute – in data overage charges.  Where can I sign up?!


  • Rogers_Chris

    Hi Mark,

    My name is Chris and I work for Rogers. I saw your blog post and hoped I could clarify a few things.

    First off, apologies that you’re not getting the speeds you expect. Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that customers will get the advertised speeds all hours of the day for a variety of reasons. I would suggest you speak with our technical support team and determine what the cause of the problem may be.

    Second, you mentioned World of Warcraft and StarCraft 2. In tests performed in our lab, we did find a problem with World of Warcraft and we’re working with our vendor on a solution. However, there was no problem when we tested StarCraft 2 on our network.

    Third, you used the world “throttle” in reference to downstream traffic (like watching streaming video). Under no circumstances do we manage that type of traffic. The only time our network management policy applies is when you’re using a P2P filesharing client (like Bittorrent, which you mentioned in your post).

    Fourth, with regard to Speedboost, it is simply a temporary boost of speed for files up to 10 megs. It’s intended for speeding up small downloads when extra bandwidth is available.

    Finally, LTE is a major step forward and we’re all excited to deploy it before the end of 2011 in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal. It will be faster than our current HSPA+ network – that much I can guarentee. I’m sure you’ll be watching closely in the coming months, Mark.

    Feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.


    • Mark

      Hi Chris,
      I appreciate your reaching out, and assume that you’d like the reply shared (so I approved it and it should be visible to anyone who sees the page). I’m impressed with your proactive approach to this.
      I also understand that it’s not always possible to deliver rated speeds, and at least some of the underlying reasons for this, though what I described has been a persistent issue for me for many months now (with the exact same usage profile). Before writing what I wrote, I read numerous reports that I’m sure you are aware of on places like; many others were experiencing the same symptoms. Indeed the other commenter here (Andrew) was experiencing a stronger version of my symptoms (with Starcraft 2), spent massive amounts of time with his 3rd-party ISP (TekSaavy) who identified it as a Rogers issue that was going to take time to fix.
      Your clarification about Speedboost is helpful, though the ad image I had copied specifically referred to streaming video, online gaming, and downloading (which seems much broader than just accelerating file transfers up to 10Mb).
      As a technologist, I too am excited about LTE, though I think you’ll agree that data plans need to change fairly radically for anyone to actually make use of that speed (I am a Rogers wireless subscriber). As you might note from a successive post, I support metered Internet access with charges that reflect the cost of delivering the service, but $0.05 per additional MB – $50 per GB – just isn’t practical. Watching a standard definition movie on Netflix at those rates would cost $25-35 in bandwidth costs alone.
      Thanks again for your reply!

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