Which Internet Providers Have Data Caps?
Imagine, you’re snuggled up on your couch eating popcorn, streaming your favorite series on Netflix when suddenly a red pop-up notification flashes across your TV screen- “You’ve exceeded your data limit for the month.”
Data Caps aren’t uncommon, but because of the world-wide pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission has launched the ‘Keep Americans Connected Pledge.’ It states companies must waive fees incurred from Data Caps, open WiFi hotspots to Americans in need, and declare that companies shouldn’t terminate service due to the inability to pay their bill.
Because of this, the Data Caps enforced by Internet Service Providers (ISP) can be blurry. If you’re unsure of what exactly a Data Cap is, or if your ISP has changed the user agreement on Data Caps, you are in the right place.
In this article you will find out...
What is a Data Cap?
A Data Cap can also be known as a “bandwidth cap,” “monthly usage allowance,” or even fair use “policy.” It is a way for ISP’s to make sure no one person is getting more data; however, it’s not always laid out plain and simple for customers to acknowledge.
Think about it like this; ISP’s are allowed a specified bandwidth. Let’s compare the bandwidth to a highway. The highway allows a certain amount of cars to pass throughout the day; however, during rush hour, there is an increase in traffic. If another lane were to be constructed, this would create more bandwidth.
Because ISP’s don’t have more bandwidth, their option is to slow people down from using the data in the first place, hence a Data Cap.
To put things into perspective here are everyday streaming entertainments and their approximate file sizes:
- 1 hour of Chill-Hop music stream- about 1.27GB
- 3-minute cat video in 1080p- 83.5MB
- 9-hour audiobook from Audible in standard quality- 135MB
- 2-hour movie on Netflix HD- 4.5GB
- The same 2-hour movie on Netflix standard quality- 1.5GB
Providers That Have Currently Suspended Data Caps
As the Federal Communications Commission’s pledge has expired since the day it was instituted in March, these Internet Service Providers have either extended the suspension of their Data Caps or increased the Data Cap to satisfy customers:
As stated from the Houston Chronicle, Comcast Xfinity has recently reestablished their Data Cap but pushed their earlier 1 Terabyte to 1.2 Terabytes. From their direct site, they’re offering essential Internet free to new customers that meet low-income needs.
Comcast also provides free hotspots as part of an Xfinity Internet service package so you can save on your wireless plan and enjoy on the go Wi-Fi.
AT&T’s Fiber and AT&T Internet’s Data Cap has now been extended through September 30th, 2020. “…continue to video conference, binge shows and movies, play video games, etc. and you won’t see overage charges on your home Internet bills,” exclaims AT&T.
They have also increased unlimited plans to 15GB each month now, and those in the Navy on individual ships can make free phone calls to their military bases.
According to Sparklight, after assessing customer comments, they’ve decided to increase the Data Cap to 50 to 300 GB with no extra charge, which has been active as of July 1st, 2020.
Mediacom has followed suit, boosting its Data Cap with 100 extra Gigabytes of Data starting September and carrying out through the rest of 2020.
Like Xfinity, Cox Communications offers free hotspots on the go, and they’re providing on-going support alongside the Federal Communication Commission’s Keep America Connected Pledge. To do this, they’re postponing late fees, and they’re not disconnecting services due to the inability to pay. This guarantee is valid until July 31st, 2020.
All Points Broadband, the 32nd most used Internet Service provider, serves around 1.6 million people around the United States.
In agreement with their website, they offer plans starting at $79.00 for their starter pack with download speeds up to 4Mbps. Their ‘living the stream’ package is $99.00 for up to 8Mbps. The lowest package is the only one that has a Data Cap of 100GB. The remaining plans have unlimited data.
Rise Broadband is a fixed wireless company accessible in 19 states. For their small business package, speeds up to 50Mbps and no Data Cap! As for residential packages, they exclaim that 90% of their customers don’t exceed their data plan, using around 100GB per month.
Now let’s have a look at which providers still do have Data Caps.
Which Internet Services Do Have Data Caps?
This service is only offered in California, serving around 181,000 people. Their plans are as follows: $75.00 a month for 25Mbps with a 20 GB Data Cap. The second plan is $115.00 a month for 25Mbps with a 150GB Data Cap. They offer business and residential Internet. The prices may vary by location throughout California, so be sure to check out their website.
Armstrong offers Cable, Fiber, and DSL Internet. It is the 15th largest Internet provider in the United States, serving mostly Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland. Their packages begin at $69.95 a month for 300Mbps. There is no installation fee, and they have a promo rate of $91.95 for six months. They’re Data Cap is 2,000 GB per month.
Ayera Technologies, Inc.
Ayera offers services to around 951,000 people in the sunshine state of California. With download speeds of 10Mbps, you’ll pay $79.00 a month, and for $119.00 a month, you can get up to 20Mbps. The modem is included, and the set-up fee is $99.00. Ayera Technologies Data Cap is 1945 GB per month.
Basin Broadband caters to Texans. If you live in Texas, you may want to check out their 8Mbps for $191.00 monthly fee with 40GB Data Cap or their $289.00 a month for the same, 8Mbps, but 80 GB Data Cap. There is a one time, $200 installation fee, which rises to $300 in more rural locations.
Century Link is the 3rd most popular Internet Service provider, available in 14,105 zip codes around the United States. While Comcast Xfinity requires contracts, Century Link does not, which is why this service may appeal to you. Not only are there no contracts, but they also lock in your price per month guaranteed.
Century Link’s packages begin at $49 a month, which is excellent for families. It includes speeds up to 100Mbps with a 1 Terabyte Data Cap. Their Fiber Gigabit package is $65, with up to 940Mbps and the same Data Cap as the previous plan.
This service provides Satellite Internet to 308.7 million customers throughout the United States, and it also serves Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. They offer what is called ‘binge hours,’ which allows 50GB of extra data between 2 am and 8 pm when most people aren’t blocking the network.
Throttling, a tactic that slows down customers’ data when they’ve gone overboard, is used to make room for others that have not yet gone over their package. There are separate packages available for purchase when in need of additional data during any given month.
Trimming Your Data
So you’ve decided on a provider that does have a Data Cap, what can you do to monitor and cut down your usage?
On average, people between the age of 18-64 watch TV for at least 4 hours a day; that’s 112 hours a month, as stated by the Business Insider. With this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and more technology available today than ever before, data usage is only going to increase.
With that being said, here are some reasonable ways you can cut back on your data like some cut back on calories.
For one, streaming movies in 4k uses about 7.2GB compared to 1080p, which takes up 1.5GB. For that reason alone, you should consider streaming in 4k on occasion like when you’re having a movie night with your family.
In Netflix’s settings, you can set the quality lower or standard instead of high definition so that whoever is using your Netflix account automatically uses fewer data.
Next, some providers, like AT&T, have a ‘data calculator’ where you can measure out just how much data you might use depending on factors like how many emails you send out, how much gaming you do, and how many hours you spend searching the Internet.
This is helpful because it forces you to set goals and get an overall picture of how much time your spending is using technology.
When using your phone, always cut off background apps that might be sucking your data even though you’re not using them. You can also see how much data is being used by each app by looking under the settings section. This will help you decide if there are apps you no longer need.
By downloading music or videos instead of streaming them, you’ll save a ton of data. You can do this if you have an iPhone by going to Settings, and then clicking on music. Then, click on cellular data, so it disables that feature, or you can also turn off high-quality streaming.
Another sneaky way around having to deal with Data Caps at all is by registering with your LLC’s EIN.
Another note to factor in is that you’ll most likely use more data on weekends, so just knowing that allows you to plan throughout the week.
Lastly, make sure to monitor your email with any notifications your Internet Service Provider may be sending you, especially with Comcast Xfinity. They will provide you with a personal Comcast email that you may not even know exists.
To Cap or Not to Cap
Whether you decide to go for a more well-known company like Xfinity Comcast or a no Data Cap company like Rise Broadband Verizon Fios, you ultimately need to weigh out your decisions based on your personal needs.
Maybe you decide to plan out your data and go with a Data Cap company, or perhaps you’d prefer not to worry about your data usage.
Bookmark this page so you can refer back to this list as you make your final decisions on the Internet Service Provider that’s right for you!