How Much Internet Data Are You Using?
If you have an internet plan with a monthly data cap, you’re probably worried about going over it. It’s not always easy to know how much data your internet activities are using. So, let’s break things down, look at how internet data is measured and consider the best ways you can make sure you never go over your data cap. (Spoiler: Finding an ISP without data caps is a great option!)
How is internet data measured?
First of all, let’s clear up terms. Data transfer speed from your connection to your home network is measured in bits per second. For internet usage, you’re normally talking about megabits (Mbps), gigabits (Gbps) and terabits (Tbps)—1 Tb is 1,000 Gbps, and 1 Gb is 1,000 Mbps.
Your data usage is an overall count of how much data you download and upload. It’s important to remember that when you visit a web page, your computer is downloading everything on it. Similarly, even though you don’t save the movie you watch on Netflix to your downloads folder, streaming it still counts as downloading—at least to your ISP.
With so much to do online, we’re starting to use a lot more internet data. According to OpenVault’s most recent Broadband Insights Report from Q2 2023, the average U.S. household consumed an average of 533.8 GB of internet data each month. However, there are a growing number of “power users” who consume more than 1 TB of internet data each month and “super power users” who consume more than 2 TB each month. Right now, the two groups make up just under 20% of all households, but they’re increasing fast. You can download OpenVault’s report if you want to register and see all the data for yourself.
You can clear up any confusion about bits and bytes here. Just remember that internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). It sounds similar to bytes, the measurement for storage and memory, but it’s a totally different measurement. If you have a 500 Mbps (megabits per second) connection, you can download a lot more than 500 MB (megabytes) of data. (We’ll talk a little more about internet speed below.)
Does my speed affect my internet usage?
A faster internet connection makes it easier to use more internet data, but it isn’t automatic.
For example, streaming a video in HD consumes about 1 GB per hour regardless of how fast your internet connection is. However, if you have a faster connection, you’ll be able to stream the same movie in 4K, which consumes about 8 GB per hour.
It’s the same with things like video calls. If you have a slow connection, they’ll likely be in SD and use 340 MB per hour, but if you have a fast connection they’ll be in HD and you’ll use 2 GB per hour.
It even matters with things like browsing the web. The faster web pages load, the more websites you can visit in an hour. Check the FCC’s Broadband Speed Guide for more guidance on minimum speeds you need for your typical activities online.
Tips and tricks for keeping your usage in check
If you’re worried about hitting the data cap of your internet data plan, there are a few things you can do:
- Check your data usage with your ISP. While there are other apps that can track internet usage, unless you install them on every device in your household, they won’t be accurate. Alternatively, you can use your router as an internet data usage monitor.
- Be careful with 4K and HD video streaming. Other than downloading lots of large files, it’s the easiest way to blow through your data cap.
- Be mindful about downloading. Video games, music downloads and other large files can eat into your data cap.
- If it’s an option, make sure your ISP will send you an SMS or other notification when you get close to your data cap. This way, you can be extra careful until your cap resets.
Find an internet provider without data caps!
If you never want to worry about internet data caps again, there is an even better option: Find a provider without data caps. Great fiber plans often come without data caps. Here’s how to go about finding one.
Frontier Fiber is built for the way you live today—with no data caps!
If you’re still on the lookout for the right ultrafast internet connection for streaming, gaming, working from home and running your smart home—all with enough bandwidth for everyone—find out about Frontier Fiber. Frontier Fiber is available in select areas—check here to see when it’s available at your address.
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