Data Caps: Local ISPs Versus National ISPs

As a general rule the sound of anything being inaccessible makes the majority of consumers, or at least myself, scream why?  This is especially true for anything that was once accessible and now is not.  That being said, is it just me or does merely hearing the words “Data Cap” sends chills down the spines of many consumers?  I have been content with my “unlimited” data plan from my Local ISP for the past two years.  In fact I never even realized my plan was “unlimited” because I never saw anything regarding Data Caps on my bill or on anything else from my Local ISP including their website.  I only heard about Data Caps from National ISP advertisements, and after seeing it barraged all over the Internet, it got me thinking!  I never even felt the need to look and see how much data I actually use, why? Because until now it NEVER mattered!

After some mild panic I did some poking around to find more information on data caps and how they would affect me, I found some interesting information.

1. Data caps in different forms are already being used by a large number of ISP’s.  That bandwidth SPEED that you are paying for is essentially a data cap.  This is an effort to combat congestion of data transmission cables during peak hours.  In other words, it does not cost your ISP any more or less for the bandwidth speed you pay for; further your speed will most likely be affected during high peak hours anyway!  So if you are paying for say 50Mbps service at $50.00 per month, chances are during high peak hours that speed drops to more like 2.3Mbps, whereas the your cheap neighbor who is paying for 5Mbps service for say $20.00 month probably does not ever even notice the change in bandwidth speed during high peak hours.

2. The 300GB plus data caps used by some national ISPs are most likely NEVER reached in any given month by the average consumer.  This however goes back to #1, the higher the speed you pay for the higher the data cap (not all ISPs use data caps in this manner).  The average consumer, who works from 8am to 5pm, ONLY uses the Internet during high peak hours for downloading movies from Netflix or Hulu, surfing social media sites and/or online gaming.  Of all these activities, High Definition movies takes up the most bandwidth usually take up about 2.3Gb per hour, while online gaming comes in a distant second at only 30Mb per hour and trailing behind in third, surfing social media sites, downloading pictures and email takes up a whooping 15Mb per hour.  On average households consume about 20Gb per month, however conceivably a household of 3 who watch 3 hours of Netflix each night while simultaneously surfing social media sites and participating in online gaming, could consume as much as 220Gb per month.

3. While there have been some unsubstantiated claims of people using up to 90 Gb in a given month, the highest substantiated claim of data usage in a given month is a Telenet customer in Belgium who used 2.6Tb the equivalent of 2,680Gb in a month!  We don’t want to know what that guy was doing!

In short, while the average consumer will most likely never use anywhere near the data cap imposed by National ISPs.  However improbable it is still conceivable for a consumer to have the perfect storm of bandwidth use, my suggestion, shop locally as the majority of Local ISPs do not impose data caps!

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