Most broadband packages come with a set limit on how much bandwidth you can use each month. The monthly usage limit, which can vary from 1GB to 40GB, or more, is also referred to as a download cap as it reflects how much information can be downloaded in one month, including media files, software updates, etc.
Other things such as sending/receiving emails, making VoIP calls, retrieving attachments and using chat/instant messaging services also count towards your monthly usage limit.
Remember, if you exceed your usage limit you risk being charged for the additional bandwidth used.
Unlimited Download Usage and Fair Usage policies
Some ISPs provide unlimited monthly download usage with their products, which in theory allows you to download as much as you like. However, fair usage policies are also put in place to ensure that extremely heavy users do not compromise the internet service.
Your unlimited broadband package will most likely have an unspecified ‘fair use’ cap, which if exceeded may result in your connection being temporarily slowed down or even disconnected for the rest of the month. Some ISPs may even charge an additional fee for going beyond this cap.
Therefore, if you plan on being a heavy user, make sure you do some research on each provider’s fair usage policies before deciding on which ISP to go with.
Monthly Usage Summary
When deciding on how much monthly bandwidth allowance is needed, many people make the mistake of going for packages with less bandwidth than they require and end up getting charged for the over use. Others go for a package with a higher usage limit than they actually need and end up paying over the odds each month.
If you are planning on using the internet often and intensively, downloading lots of games, music and video files, or having multiple users sharing the same broadband connection, you will best off going for an unlimited usage package.
But if all you want to do is send/receive emails, shop and chat online, etc, then opting for a package with a set limit on monthly usage may be more cost effective.
There are many cases where those with broadband connections share their files online through P2P networks. Recently, it has come to the media’s attention that illegal filesharers have started to receive letters from lawyers claiming for their losses due to filesharing. Although filesharing is legal, sharing files that don’t belong to you isn’t. Don’t do it!