You might not even realize it, but there’s a good chance your home internet has a data cap, or an amount of data that you’re limited to before you’re charged more.
That sounds like something you should be aware of, right? The possibility of your internet bill being higher than you expect? In theory, sure. But for the majority of customers, data caps aren’t an issue because you don’t come close to using it all.
The majority of large ISPs have data caps of 1 TB a month. But what does that really get you? A quick glance at a data calculator from AT&T showed this breakdown. Let’s say you:
- Send or receive 200 emails a day (6,200 total in a month) and
- Stream music for 5 hours a day (155 hours total a month) and
- Surf the web for 5 hours a day (155 hours total a month) and
- Stream 10 hours of HD video a day (310 total hours a month) and
- Spend 5 hours everyday gaming online (155 hours total a month)
Doing all that, you’re still only at 783 gigabytes of usage, or just over 75% of your limit. And of course, the above example is a very high level of usage – probably not even possible for an individual and fairly high usage for a family. So it’s not hard to see why data caps aren’t an issue for most people.
There is a caveat though – 4K video. Watching 4K content takes up significantly more bandwidth than even HD video. But even if you stream 4K content for 4 hours a day, you’re still at the 75% level.
Considering just 4K video and absolutely no other online use, it takes about 200 hours a month or 6 hours a day, every single day. So if you have multiple streaming 4K videos at once, it’s possible you’ll hit your limit, especially with more than two users plus other online activity – but that’s the only real way you’ll reach your limit.
So what’s the takeaway? For now, data caps won’t affect 90% of internet users. If you are concerned about your data usage though, all it takes is bumping one of your 4K streams down to HD to save some serious bandwidth. Check out this post for more tips on staying under your data cap.
And while it’s not an issue now, if 4K video continues to rise in popularity, there’s a chance we’ll start to see this become more of an issue down the road.
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