Le Devoir has an article today claiming that Bell and Videotron deliberately ignore unusual increases in clients' Internet bandwidth usage which might tell them that someone is gaining access to their connection without their knowledge.
The logic is simple: They can see clearly when bandwidth usage goes up, but they don't warn the customer because they profit heavily off bandwidth overage charges.
Thing is, I'm not terribly convinced that's the answer.
First of all, there's an assumption that Internet Service Providers like high-bandwidth users. But they don't. They hate peer-to-peer networks and other bandwidth-intensive activities. The vast majority of Internet users are well below their monthly quota, and the difference between the two is free bandwidth the companies are not eager to give away. There's also the problem that a high-bandwidth user will slow the connections of other users on the network.
Secondly, I have no reason not to believe the providers' PR-clouded appeal to their own laziness. They say they don't have the resources to check every account for unusual activity (and if they do for one customer, they'll be expected to do it for all). They'd have to hire tons of new people just to do this (and they won't, of course; they'll just pull people off technical and customer service). They'd have to do it on a schedule more often than once a month (because that's when people are billed for excessive bandwidth use), and that's really not feasible.
Similarly, the comparison with credit card companies and banks is a bit silly. These organizations deal directly with money, which is very important. You might get charged $30 for maxing out on bandwidth for one month, but it's hardly the end of the world.
Finally, this isn't an exact science. An increase in bandwidth usage might mean someone's stealing your Wi-Fi, or it might mean your grandson is over for the holidays and is playing Halo 3 all day. And how many Wi-Fi leechers really run up the bandwidth meter anyway?
Just my two cents. (That doesn't put me over the limit, right?)