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TV & streaming

Half of Americans don’t know their internet data caps – How to check yours

We’re a year into the pandemic and one thing we learned is how important internet service can be for our livelihoods. We’re used to working from home and attending school remotely. We get our essentials online.

For some people, having consistent broadband internet is beyond their means. A new federal initiative seeks to remedy this problem for those who qualify. Tap or click here to see if you qualify for a discount on your monthly internet bill.

Internet service providers themselves stepped in by waiving data cap and overage charges to relieve some of the customers’ burdens. Unfortunately, these waivers are expiring, and now it’s easier to blow past a data cap and incur extra charges. It’s important to know what your cap is and how to keep tabs on it. There are ways to keep from crossing the limit each month. Read on for more.

Survey says… we don’t know

A survey from of 1,000 Americans across 50 states yielded some surprising results regarding our knowledge of data caps. Here’s what was learned:

  • 48% of those surveyed don’t know the data cap limit of their home internet plans.
  • 75% said they are willing to pay for unlimited service.
  • 59% said movie and television streaming take up most of their bandwidth.
  • 18% said most of their bandwidth goes to gaming.
  • 37% of those surveyed hit their data cap limit during the pandemic, and 68% of that group paid overage fees.

Know your limits

Most ISPs impose a monthly limit on the amount of data you can send or receive over the internet. If you exceed that allowance, you can be charged a fee. Or your connection speed can be throttled, slowing down everything you do online. Think you’re safe with an unlimited plan? ISPs can still lower your connection speed. Read the fine print on your contract.

Visit your ISP’s website and login to your account to see your plan. You can find your monthly limit as well as how much data you are currently using. You can also get this information from an app provided by your ISP. Tap or click here to see if your ISP is throttling your connection.

It may be worth considering increasing to a more expensive tier to keep from going over your data cap limit every month. Check other ISPs for better deals and higher speeds and limits. Try the old-fashioned route, call up your ISP, and let them know that things are not working out for you. They may give you a good deal to keep you from defecting to another company.

Keeping tabs

Beyond regularly checking your data usage, you can take some steps to keep it down. Here are some tips for lowering your monthly usage:

  • First of all, make sure your connection is secure. This will protect you from malware, viruses and breaches and keep others from leeching off your data. Tap or click here to learn more about password managers.
  • Watching your shows and movies in 4K is nice, but you can scale back to a lower resolution without noticing much of a difference. The same goes for YouTube. This will use less data.
  • Try downloading your favorite titles rather than streaming them.
  • Online gaming also eats up data, though usually not as much as streaming video does. Limit your gaming sessions and use voice chat sparingly.
  • Video conference calls may be necessary for work, but does your camera always have to be on? You can attend a meeting and turn off your camera without missing anything. Be sure to clear it with your boss and coworkers.
  • Don’t forget to close your streaming services. When you’ve finished watching Netflix or any other streaming service, make sure to close the app, so it’s not using unnecessary data when not in use.

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