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Internet Data Caps Guide 

Posted On     Thursday, April 1st, 2021

man handling digital data

For some internet service providers (ISPs) of the current market, data limiting is still a thing.  


And, considering most part of internet customers sees speeds and data plans as important factors to their internet services comparisons and consume, this is a topic that must be fully comprehended.  


Other than that, unknown technical terms and features are likely to show up when someone start to compare cable and internet packages, for example.  


This is a tricky thing of the Technology Industry, but it is not impossible to get informed in order to have a better shopping experience.  

What are Data Caps? 

They are restrictive data usage limits enforced by ISPs. In theory, it is a market practice or policy used to avoid that the total bandwidth available for each provider clogs, even though the largely majority of providers stay above their caps even with a great number of active customers. 


A data cap is expressed in the same way speeds are. For example, AT&T fiber broadband has a 1 TB-Unlimited monthly data cap. The one or more terabit levels can be read as unlimited because it is almost humanly impossible for a single client to reach that point in their house. HughesNet, in the other way, offer satellite plans with 10-50 GB data caps.  

Why do data caps exist? 

In summary, the goal is to avoid slowing the internet speeds or damage other customers’ internet experience by consuming too much of the data the service holds. To be far from this problem, providers discourage users to exceed the “standard” data usage.  


When they do, the most common things that can happen, usually with a pre-advising message from companies, are:  

  • the provider can cut your internet connection.  
  • the provider can slow down the speeds available for the user.  

Other terms used for Data Caps 

  • Fair access policy 
  • Fair usage policy 
  • Usage-based billing 

Warning! Do not mix up with “Bandwidth Cap”, which is the total amount of data downloaded on a month.  

COVID-19 Scenario  

In the Internet market, lots of specialists and media professionals have speculated the end or the revival of data caps.  


And although many of the largest providers use not only this practice, but also additional fees to control their revenue, their service quality and keep selling what customers need a recent change happened as of an emergency solution. 


After the Covid-19 hit, many companies shot down the data caps as a form of support to population during the crisis.  


Some of the providers that currently suspended caps temporarily to relief the situation of home workers because of the pandemic are: 

  • AT&T Internet 
  • Comcast Xfinity 
  • Cox Communications 
  • Mediacom 
  • Sparklight 

On the other hand, Disney+ defined new measures to lower the amount of data being used during the crisis, meaning HD and UHD streaming can be limited.  

smiling guy downloading data from the internet

Data Caps per Activity  

Each online movement a user does use a specific amount of data. To check if you have a lower or higher data plan and speed for your household needs, it is important do track your normal data usage.  


These are the most common ones and how the data usage behaves in general in those cases: 

Online video:  

The recommended speeds for 4k streaming are 35 Mbps. For high-definition streaming, the average drops for 10-20 Mbps. Any internet user must know that streaming services eat a lot of data. In fact, some believe the brands that sell tv and internet service started to use data limits to avoid that the public stopped from buying tv plans after the streaming tools boomed.  


Anyhow, heavy video consumers (HD and 4K UHD streaming) need to be even more aware of data limiting features when they compare cable tv and internet providers.  

Online gaming:  

The recommended speed for this activity is 15-35 Mbps. The usage demand is going to vary by the number of online users for each internet plan, the usual period of the day they are online, the location and other factors.  

Video Calling: 

The average speeds that can properly run video chatting tools is 10-20 Mbps.  

Social Media: 

10 Mbps is enough for navigating on social tools in general.  

Web browsing:  

5-10 Mbps internet plans will be capable of sustaining this kind of activity.  


Sending and receiving emails on the internet is one of the activities that asks the lower levels of speeds. 1 Mpbs, which is far less than any high-speed internet plan offer, would be enough to do it.  

Data Caps per Type of Connection  

Normally, fiber, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)cable, and wireless internet services have the highest (or less restrictive) data caps in the market.  


On the other hand, many people want to know: does satellite internet have data caps? Yes, and usually these are the lowest caps comparing to other types of connection. 

Did you like this article? 

Check out here for more, it is free! In just a few seconds, CleverPing, a unique and intelligent technology, helps you compare the best home service providers in your area. 

Written By: Erika Yukari

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