My broadband account gets depleted very quickly. How can I check what the problem is?
— Aby T., Thimphu
Internet in Bhutan has rapidly evolved from being a luxury toy for occasional usage to a necessary utility used on a daily basis. With such usage, your broadband Internet bills can therefore add up rather quickly. Prepaid broadband costs about Nu 100 for every GB these days (and slightly cheaper if you happen to recharge using the Nu 1499 or 2499 packages). Some users find that their balance quickly vanishes into thin air, and they often tend to blame Bhutan Telecom for faulty bookkeeping. But the truth is that there can also be other causes for a quick drain. If you suspect that you are overcharged, here are a few steps to take before rushing to Bhutan Telecom.
- Change your broadband password. The Bhutan Telecom system is set up in such a way that multiple users can use the same account (dnetxxxxxxxx) from multiple fixed lines at the same time. So, if a “friend” got hold of your password, they might be logging in from their home and downloading the recent Bollywood blockbusters at your expense. Changing your password will hopefully put a stop to that (but hopefully not to your friendship).
- Secure your wireless network. More and more homes in Thimphu have wireless routers, allowing laptops, smartphones, and tablets to connect to the Internet without cables. However, if your network is not secured with a password - or, if your password is simple to guess - your lovely neighbor might be taking your Internet connection for a free ride. Secure your network by setting a strong wireless password. Check the documentation that came with your wireless router for further instructions.
- Protect shared computers. Is there any chance other members of your household — brothers, sisters, spouse, children — are using your computer to watch their favorite YouTube videos when you’re at the office? It’s not a bad idea to password-protect your Windows account. Visit the Windows Control Panel to password-protect your user account, as well as disable any other accounts that are not password protected (such as the Guest account).
Say you've done the above, but are still puzzled about how your data is used. This is where a bandwidth monitor comes in handy. A bandwidth monitor keeps track of the data used by your computer, and shows you how your data is used. A recommended utility for Windows computers is the free NetLimiter 2 Mon, which you can download at www.netlimiter.com/download.php. Other creatures can also feed off your wireless network: if you connect an Android phone or tablet to your wireless network, you can check the data usage by using the built-in counters at Settings > Connections > Data Usage > Wi-Fi. If you happen to own an iPhone or iPad, you will need to install an app that monitors Wi-Fi usage, such as the free Cisco Data Meter (available at the iTunes app store).
Taken all the above steps? If you still think DrukNet is overcharging you, take a printout of the bandwidth monitor’s statistics with you when you pay the Bhutan Telecom office a visit.