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What’s You Data Cap and Have You Ever Exceeded It?



One of the issues that we’re always following here is how the carriers are dealing with pricing and caps. We’ve seen it move from a re-defining of the English language, when unlimited meant unlimited and then it meant 5GB. While some of that is still going on, at least now we’re seeing things spelled out with a little more respect for the end user and the English language.

With 4G (another almost surreal definition scenario) starting to hit more areas and more to come, we’re seeing some of the carriers experiment here and there with both straight data plans for a handset and hotspots. Although this story doesn’t deal with 4G or 3G I think it is indicative of the possible traps consumers may fall into. Comcast recently touted its new service that offers 105Mbps download speed service for $105 per month. It comes with a cap of 250GB a month. Which by most accounts only gives you about 5 hours or so of full bandwidth use. I call it the “one hand giveth but not quite” plan, and I think we’ll see that quite a bit in the future.

Obviously the carriers are trying to protect both their networks and their revenue streams here in an age where it seems like we want to have lots of media and data pumping through the pipes. The carries insist that the average user will always fall below any cap that they’ve set, and I guess it is fair to say they should have the data to prove that claim.

But I’m curious here. Tell us what your data cap is and let us know if you’ve ever run up against it or exceeded it. Is it something you think about when you’re using your connected device? Or is this a non-issue for you? Tell us also something about your usage for some context. Do you consume a lot of video? Are you just a quick browser and email user? Inquiring minds want to know.




  1. Paul

    04/22/2011 at 1:00 pm

    Data caps are nothing new to Canadians. They not only impact your smart phone plans but your internet plans at home too. Caps have become a big enought issue that it’s spilled over to our upcoming Federal election. The ‘big’ ISPs (Rogers, Bell and Shaw) wanted to charge smaller ISPs (that use their feeds, bundle the services and then sell to consumers – with unlimited downloads) for capped data volumes. The government of the day stepped in after the public started screaming about it and, through the CRTC (the regulatory group that controls Canadian radio and telecommunications) disallowed the changes to caps. I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of this as the big services providers can essentially eliminate small ISPs by capping their data flow.

    My ISP (Rogers) has multiple plans and the one I’m currenlty on has a 60gig cap. I find that, reviewing my download history provided through my account information, that I rarely use more than 40gigs a month so my plan is plenty good enough. But, I’ve got a friend who tells me he uses well over 300gigs a month and therefore pays extra for his unlimited plan.

    And, hasn’t Netflix just changed the size of it’s downloads? I was led to believe that this is mainly due to the cap issue. In Canada, all the big ISPs are also cable/dish TV service providers making it in their interest to impact services like Netflix…

  2. janetalkstech

    04/22/2011 at 1:10 pm

    I’m on a 2GB data plan with ATT. I’ve found that I can stay within this cap while using my social apps (4sq, twitter, facebook, picplz, word games, etc). However, watching Youtube videos is the surest way to run over this limit; I discovered this during the tail end of my billing cycle so I didn’t get hit with overage fees. So, I’ve limited myself to surfing/browsing/news-reading but no Youtubing while on my data plan.

  3. Xavier Lanier

    04/22/2011 at 4:15 pm

    I moved to the 4GB iPhone hotspot at AT&T a couple of months ago after seeing that I rarely exceeded 2GB on the unlimited plan. I’m really glad to have the unlimited 4G plan w/ my Thunderbolt though.

  4. Benjamin Voigt

    04/22/2011 at 5:50 pm

    I’m on a truly unlimited data plan at home in Germany and a mobile one capped at 5Gb.

    This month is the first time I hit the cap wall. It was the first time I had to use the mobile data plan to check RSS feeds, Twitter, and mail during the day, updating Evernote now and then, and seldomly watch a short Youtube video (i.e. I’d guess, it was a single one, but I’m not completely sure).

    The bulk of my internet traffic still happened in the evening at home.

    So it came to me as a shock when I received a SMS yesterday that my mobile connection has hit the wall and is reduced to GPRS speed for the rest of the billing period (i.e. 7 days).

    It was my plan to only keep the mobile data plan when I have to move next year, but now I see that there is no way for me to reduce the traffic to the required amount without changing the way I work and receive my streams of information (I cannot reduce the amount of information that much).

    Free WiFi hotspots are a lot more uncommon over here than in the U.S., and my plan still is not able to cover that my online backed up data is 30Gb alone. In months when I have to reinstall my PC I’d be forced in the speed bump wall automatically. (Ok this only forces me to to backup locally, too.)

    If anyone has found workarounds on any of my problems, please share them. ATM, my only solution seems to be two data plans.

  5. Ashley

    04/22/2011 at 11:25 pm

    I am a Canadian now living in the US and have moved from Rogers to AT&T. Just around a year ago when I was on Rogers, my data plan was a whopping 10 MB. You read correctly, that is 10 megabytes, not gigabytes. I went over it once, hitting around 20 MB (my smartphone’s email client went rampant one night). Needless to say, my bill that month was the ugliest I had ever seen topping out at around $600 – for exceeding my limit by a mere 10 MB. What is that, 2 songs?

    I managed to get the bill cut in half by requesting to cancel my service (I was already off contract and was not bluffing since I knew I would move to the US later that year). But still, $300 for an accidental 10 MB really hurt. The funny thing about that bill is that the taxes alone ended up being more than my usual monthly rate.

    In terms of home internet, many years back on the Canadian ISP Sympatico, we had a monthly 2 GB cap. I hit that at least a few times. With so much content being delivered over the internet these days from streaming movies to software and game purchases, operating system updates, etc, 2 GB is hardly enough.

  6. John in Norway

    04/23/2011 at 10:37 am

    I’ve just started my first data plan, solely because it was such a good deal on a Galaxy Tab. It’s 6GB a month then reduced speed (free use evening and weekends and public holidays). So far, after 22 days I’ve used 136MB! Maybe if we ever get out of winter and I can get out more I’ll use it a bit more. But will I be able to see the screen in bright sunlight?

  7. Metaphase

    04/26/2011 at 8:19 am

    I get 3GB of mobile data a month for £5 (around $8), along with 300 min to any network, 300 texts, unlimited landline calls (I’m on a SIM-only contract, so pay for my phone as a one-off purchase.

    Never go over my cap.

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