You are spoiled. I am spoiled. We all are spoiled if we have access to unlimited Internet at home. Just as our cell phone plans transformed from unlimited data to plans with monthly data caps, our Internet service at home may someday have limits, if it doesn’t already.
Imagine binge-watching House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Orphan Black, getting near the end of the series, only to get a message from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that you’ve used up your monthly allotment of bandwidth. Even worse, you miss the message and receive a bill with expensive charges for the overage data use. Ouch!
Does your ISP have a bandwidth cap? Do you enjoy unlimited Internet? Does your Internet speed slow down if you use too much data within the month? Customers in countries such as Canada, Iceland and Australia already have data caps. See, ZDNet Data caps are the least of America’s internet problems
➣ Check out the chart from GigaOm to see if your ISP has a data cap: Want to know if your ISP is capping data? Check our updated chart.
Comcast has said that it will imposed data caps for all of its customers within five years. The good news is that the data caps Comcast is talking about range from 300-500GB. (See, Ars Technica Comcast plans data caps for all customers in 5 years, could be 500GB.) The company already has started rolling out data caps in certain areas earlier this year, with a limit of 300GB, plus $10 for each additional 50GB.
While 300GB seems like a lot of data, technology advances may someday make that amount of data seem paltry. If you’ve cut the cable and depend on streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, you could blow through your monthly allotment quickly. With unlimited data plans you don’t have to worry about whether your plan will keep up with the demands of video streaming or advanced technologies such as 4D video.
According to Netflix, streaming videos uses:
- 0.7 GB per hour for SD
- 3 GB per hour for HD,
- 4.7 GB per hour for 3D,
- 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD 4K
How Much Data Do You Use?
While we may have electric and water meters at our homes, we probably don’t have a data meter showing us how much data we use each month. As we shop online, watch videos, stream music, share photos, surf social media, and read The Wonder of Tech, we generally don’t have a clue about how much data we’re using.
And we probably don’t care. But if ISP’s start imposing data caps on our home Internet service we may care very much.
As our use of the Internet continues to grow, ISP’s are challenged to keep up with demand. Allowing customers unlimited access to bandwidth may be impractical in the future
This infographic shows how much bandwidth is used on the Internet worldwide and shows predictions on how usage will grow in the future. The statistics might surprise you:
Love Your Grandfather
If ISP’s start imposing data caps on their customers, they may offer grandfathered plans for unlimited usage, as cell phone carriers do. Allowing customers who currently have unlimited plans to keep them may help ISP’s to retain customers. But if the customers who leave are the ones who use the most data, ISP’s may not be sad to see them go.
I currently have grandfathered unlimited data plans for my cell phone and iPad with AT&T. The comfort of not having to worry about data overages is worth it to me to maintain my grandfathered plan, even though there might be better deals for me based on my actual data usage.
If some ISP’s impose data caps, then competitors may respond with special offers for unlimited data. My daughters have unlimited data plans for their cell phones with Virgin Mobile on its Beyond Talk plan for $30/month. The speed may be slower, but the satisfaction of knowing there will be no overage charges may make up for a slower speed.
But special offers from competitors assumes that competition exists for ISP’s. Many areas, especially remote ones, have only one ISP available.
Is It Fairer to Pay for What You Use?
Some people might prefer a tiered Internet data plan with lower prices for less use. Similar to Ting’s pricing, ISP’s could sell Internet service in bundles so you only pay for what you use.
You may save money by purchasing an Internet plan with a lower data cap if you don’t use a lot of bandwidth. But you would may want a way to monitor your usage to keep track of how much of your allotment you’ve used, similar to Ting’s dashboard showing you your monthly usage.
What do you think of data caps on Internet usage? Would you prefer to stick with an unlimited usage plan or do you want a pay-for-what-you-use pricing plan? Vote in The Wonder of Tech poll and let us know your thoughts:
Do you have any idea of how much data you use per month? What statistics from the infographic surprised you? Do you currently have unlimited Internet usage? Would you miss unlimited Internet if your ISP added a data cap? Do you wish you still had an unlimited data plan on your cell phone? Let us know in the Comments section below!
If you’ve been holding out on getting a Pebble watch until they came in the colors of Fruity Pebbles, then your time has arrived! Pebble announced yesterday that it will be offering its smartwatch in limited edition colors of Fresh Green, Hot Pink and Sky Blue.
This video shows off the new colored watches:
If you want to check out other possible colors that may be in Pebble’s future, check out its #ColorMyPebble Pinterest board.
If you want to get one of these colorful smartwatches, you’ll have to head to Pebble’s website and part with $150.
➣ See my full review of the Pebble watch: Pebble Watch – A Smartwatch with Potential
* Breaking Bad image courtesy of darkness at alphacoders (edited)