How To Stay Within Your Home Internet’s Data Cap

Comcast announced that it will be introducing a data cap of 1.2 TB a month for its Xfinity Internet customers in more than a dozen states. The data caps go into effect in March for these states. So customers in these states will have two months to get their data within the cap limits. Comcast already has these caps in 27 other states it operates in.

The new states impacted by the data caps include Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Ohio

Xfinity customers will receive a notification warning as they approaching their data limit. If you exceed the 1.2 TB limit, Comcast will charge you $10 for every additional 50GB, for a maximum of $100 per month. Comcast offers one “courtesy” credit every 12 months where customers can go over the data cap limit without incurring additional costs.

Customers can avoid extra data charges by signing up for an unlimited plan, which costs $30 per month. Or they could get the “xFi Complete” plan for $25 – this includes unlimited data and rental cost for Xfinity modem and router.

It’s A Business Decision, Not a Congestion Issue

Data caps generate additional revenue for Comcast. Its network is not congested and is capable of handling network traffic during peak hours. Comcast used to have a throttling system to reduce the speeds of its super users but disabled the throttling system in 2018.

How To Manage Comcast’s Data Cap

Switch to another ISP that doesn’t have data caps

Easier said than done. Americans, even those in big cities, have limited options when it comes to choosing internet service providers (ISP). If you are lucky enough to have more than one ISP in your area, and one of them has no data caps, switch to that ISP. In most cases, Comcast’s competitors tend to smaller local companies that may not be as reliable but they are also not likely to have caps. So you have to make some tradeoffs if you switch to a smaller ISP.

Verizon Fios has no data caps. If Verizon is one of the ISPs in your area, you can switch to Verizon and avoid the data cap headaches.

Use a TV antenna to watch some of your content

If you stream all your TV content, see if some of that can be watched using an antenna. Antennas such as the highly-rated Mohu Leaf Metro cost only around $15 and allow you to watch local channels for free.

Adjusting video quality on your streaming apps

All streaming apps allow you to adjust the quality of your videos. In many cases, if you go down a notch on the video quality, you won’t notice the difference.

Amazon Prime

On Amazon Prime Videos, you can go to Accounts & Settings, and change your playback quality to Good, better, or best.

  • Good – Uses ~0.38GB per hour
  • Better – Uses ~1.40GB per hour
  • Best – Uses ~6.84GB per hour

Netflix

Netflix allows you change playback settings under Account–>Profile name (if you have multiple profiles)–>Playback settings

  • Low – Uses 0.3 GB per hour
  • Medium – 0.7 GB per hour for SD
  • High – Uses  up to 3 GB per hour for HD, and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD

Zoom

A year ago, not many people used Zoom. But today Zoom is used everywhere. You may use it for work or your kids may use it for online learning. Just like other video apps, Zoom’s data usage varies based on the video resolution you choose.

High – Uses 540 MB/hr.
720p -Uses1.08 GB/hr.
1080p -Uses 1.62 GB/hr.

There are a number of ways to save on data while using Zoom.

  • Click on the gear icon and uncheck the Enable HD option to go a lower resolution
  • Turn off video and use screen share only when needed

Bottom Line

If your ISP has data caps, there are a number of things you can do to stay within the cap. Monitor your data usage and make changes to your streaming resolution. If you have an ISP in your area that has no data caps, consider switching to them. If that’s not an option available to you, you may have to bite the bullet and sign up for an unlimited plan.

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