Should I be concerned about data caps and throttling?

Do you ever notice your internet slowing down towards the end of the month? Or maybe you keep getting extra charges on your internet bill and you have no idea why.  If either of these two things are happening, you may have a data cap with your service that you don’t know about. Like cell phone carriers, many internet service providers have a data cap attached to their plans. Don’t know what a data cap is or how to avoid it? We got you covered!  


What are Data Caps? 

The idea is that an internet service provider can only supply a certain amount of data from their network without interruption and congestion when using your devices online. With this logic, it wouldn’t be fair for one customer to get way more data usage than another customer, especially if they are paying the same price for it. This is where a data cap or throttling comes into play. Internet service providers (ISP) often set a limit to discourage you from using up more data. How much the data cap is set to depends on the provider and what plan you are using. The most popular data cap right now is 1TB. 


What is Throttling? 

Throttling occurs when your ISP takes steps to intentionally limit your internet connection’s bandwidth or data, causing considerable slowdowns and a diminution in the quality and strength of the internet you use for streaming, video calls, browsing, gaming, and just about everything you do online. 

Note the words “intentionally.” In other words, throttling is not the result of a technical glitch or extraordinary weather event. Throttling, the sluggish internet is a result of the actual policy and intervention of the ISP to restrict your ability to use your internet more efficiently and with better quality at certain times of the day or month.  

Some “high-speed internet” technologies and companies are more notorious for throttling than others. And some—like Greenlight Networks—never do it at all. Below we dive a bit deeper to explain these distinctions. 


Why Some Internet Providers Throttle Your Bandwidth and Data 

First, it’s important to remember that high-speed internet providers and technologies are not all the same. Though many ISPs boast about their high speeds, there are inherent limitations and even flaws in their technology that make them less effective than more advanced technologies like fiber.


One of the most common reasons ISPs throttle your internet is that their plans include “shared bandwidth” in their packages. Having a plan with shared bandwidth means that your bandwidth is literally “shared” with other users and spread out—even rationed out—among many other customers.  


Sharing bandwidth with other customers means that you do not have nearly as much bandwidth capacity as with ISPs that do not ration out bandwidth. To accomplish this so-called sharing, some ISPs will throttle the bandwidths of their users at various times of the day or month or after a certain amount of data usage has been already been met. Note that this is often related to a similar, but different practice known as “data capping.” 


Other technologies and ISPs throttle your bandwidth because their systems are too strained to handle the demand. For example, wireless or 5G internet providers are infamous for throttling customers’ internet. That’s largely because 5G is built for cellular phone service and has millions of customers using that signal for phone calls. Thus, there is an overwhelming strain on the 5G wireless signal just to meet its original purpose! 


To avoid overloading their signal and crashing their cell phone service (their primary function), 5G internet providers will throttle the internet at certain times of the day or month, reducing bandwidth and curtailing your ability to maintain a quality, reliable connection to the internet.  


Bandwidth and data throttling is one of the most frustrating experiences an internet user can face. Pixilated imagery, distorted voices, and slow loading can aggravate even the most patient internet user. Fortunately, you don’t have to endure throttling frustrations! 


How much data do I need?  

There are some activities that only take up small amounts of data such as sending an email, browsing the web, or streaming music. Things like downloading games, streaming videos in 4k, or even video chatting can use much more data. Keep in mind that nowadays many people have multiple smart home devices that are also constantly using up data. 


The average home uses about 600 GB of data a month, a number that has been steadily increasing since the pandemic. Remember this number can be drastically higher if your household has a lot of members who stream, game, or work from home. Another thing to keep in mind is the weather. In the warmer months, people tend to spend more time outside,  usually resulting in less data being used. However, in the winter there’s usually much more data usage going on. So if you live in a cold area, be mindful of how much data you are using during those winter months. If you have a data cap, you may want to look into getting an unlimited plan or switching to an internet service provider like Greenlight Networks which never does it at all.   


What happens when I hit or surpass my data cap?  

This depends on the ISP. Some opt to turn off your service completely or throttle it. Other companies prefer to charge you extra until the end of your billing cycle.  


How can I avoid data caps?  

Some service providers allow you to forego the data limit, for an extra monthly fee. However, your best bet is to find an internet service provider with no data cap.  


Unlike most other kinds of internet, fiber never throttles your bandwidth. Why? Because it doesn’t have to!  


Fiber’s technology is vastly superior to other forms of internet. Utilizing fiber optic cable, which consists of tightly compacted strands of fine glass hairs, fiber transmits data at nearly the speed of light. And its bandwidth capacity is enormous, allowing far greater amounts of data to transmit at any particular second.  


There simply is no need for fiber-based ISPs to intentionally slow down or hinder your internet. Compared to other forms of internet, fiber is heads and shoulders above the rest, delivering phenomenal speeds and bandwidth capacity.  


Having examined what throttling is and why some internet technologies and ISPs need to use it just to keep up with demand, it should be clear that fiber is your best choice for high-speed internet.  


If you live in Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton, or Rochester, check to see if Greenlight Networks is available in your area. With Greenlight there are no data caps  or throttling.  Get more with high-speed Internet at GIG speeds. Now the whole family can upload and download at the speed of Greenlight and not have to worry about data caps!  


P.S. No data cap means no slowing down of your gig speeds! Check your availability here: