Nelson's log

Bandwidth caps

My fast cable modem service comes with a data cap. I get an honest 100 Mbit/s, with a 300 Gbyte/month cap. Beyond that it costs $0.20 per gigabyte. I hate the idea of data caps although I sort of understand where the ISP is coming from. If I hit this cap every month I’d be angry, but so far I’ve usually come in far under. Not this month though; between the new PS4 and downloading a bunch of video I’m well over. 360GB and there’s 10 days to go.

Being over the cap has really changed how I think about the Internet. I’m now pricing stuff in my head. Watching a single LoL game broadcast will cost me $0.20. Watching a high quality movie on a stream will cost me $1.00. Do I really need to download a whole season of that TV show I might or might not watch? Maybe I can wait a few days, until April? Maybe I should put off some software updates too. I mean truthfully it’s not a lot of money, and I can certainly afford it, but knowing that I’m paying by the GB changes the way I think about it. (Related: this is why micropayments are a bad idea.)

I’m a bit confused about how my ISP calculates my usage. I also track usage via my router, and the GB usage numbers are wildly divergent.

Month    ISP    Router   Percentage
Jan      167    199       84%
Feb      160    148      108%
Mar      360    235      153%

I certainly understand why the numbers wouldn’t be exactly the same, but it’s been ±15% for the last two months. This month it’s +50%. I may ask about that when the month is over, although I’m pessimistic that customer service will give me a useful answer.

If I maxed my connection I could download about 30,000 GB a month; so my cap is 1% of max. My slow rural ISP has 1/100th the speed but the cap is 1/10th the size, so their cap is 0.1% of max.