When it comes to our cell phones, we’re all used to tracking how much data we use each month. In fact, most of us select our cell plans based on the amount of data provided. But did you know data caps exist on most internet plans, too?
Understanding data caps
A data cap is a limit that your cell phone or internet service provider places on the amount of data you can send and receive each month. Everything you do on the internet uses data, from sending an email to streaming a video online. This data is measured in bytes—Megabytes (MB), Gigabytes (GB), and Terabytes (TB)—and like the metric system, each increment is 1,000 times larger than the one before.
By setting limits, service providers can deter users from overburdening their networks by using more than their fair share, which reduces congestion and improves everyone’s access to high-quality internet.
Mobile data vs home internet
While your actual data cap depends on the plan you select, the biggest difference between data caps for your cell phone versus home internet is the amount allocated per month.
Cell phone providers set lower limits (often 1-10 GB per month), while broadband internet providers may cap your data at 1 TB or more. Considering how many devices are connected to your home internet—about 25, on average—this makes lots of sense.
The lower your data cap, the less you’ll be able to do on the internet before reaching it. And once you do, your service provider may charge you extra fees, throttle your service (intentionally slow down your internet speed), or both, depending on your contract. No one wants that—which is why it’s so important to select a plan that meets your unique needs.
How much data do I need?
The answer to this question is different for everyone, but you should start by considering how much time you spend online as well as what you do in a typical day. Here’s a look at average data usage for some of the most common things you might do online:
|Sending email (no attachments)||0.02 MB (per email)|
|Uploading/downloading photo||5 MB (per photo)|
|1 hour surfing the web||18 MB|
|1 hour social media||51 MB|
|1 hour streaming music on Spotify Premium||150 MB|
|1 hour Netflix or YouTube (SD)||0.75 GB|
|1 hour Netflix or YouTUbe (HD)||2 GB|
At Horizon, we’re happy to help you find an internet plan that suits the unique needs of your household—so you’re not paying too much for what you need, or what you don’t.
Contact our friendly, hometown staff at Contact Us with your questions. We’d love to hear from you.