Diversity & Inclusion

How easy is it to exceed 1.2TB of internet data per month?

Comcast is going to charge Delaware customers extra if they exceed 1.2 Terabytes in a month. Cord cutters will be most affected.

Who's using more than a Terabyte of internet data in a month? (Photo by Pexels user JESHOOTS.com, used under a Creative Commons license)

Comcast announced that in 2021, it will cap internet usage at 1.2 Terabytes of data a month for residential users in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, D.C., Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia, and parts of North Carolina and Ohio.

Once the cap is exceeded, it will charge an extra $10 per 50GB, up to $100. Comcast is also assuring people on Twitter that 95% of its customers don’t use near 1.2TB.

Whether that percentage is true or not, it’s predicted that the average household will exceed one TB of data usage per month by 2024 — which shouldn’t be a surprise, as data usage rates have been rapidly increasing for years.

So, the question a lot of people have is: “Seriously — will this affect my Comcast bill?”

Who wouldn’t be concerned, with many household internet connections supporting multiple family members working, going to school and playing online? The pandemic has greatly increased home internet use, but it’s not typical “computer” use, Wi-Fi devices or even gaming that push households toward the cap. It’s streaming HD, and especially 4K media — your Netflix, Prime and YouTube use.

Households that have “cut the cord” by getting rid of cable TV and use streaming services exclusively are most likely to exceed the cap; households that watch cable TV and stream shows and movies on Netflix a few times a week almost definitely won’t.

How much 4K streaming per day will put you over the cap? Just six hours (or around 180 hours a month), according to AT&T’s Internet Data Calculator. If multiple household members are home all day, and 4K video is streamed throughout the day on multiple devices — a couple of TVs, smartphones, laptops, tablets — it’s really easy to get to a Terabyte. Even if the household only streams on one TV, but everything is streamed because there is no cable, it’s easy to get to six hours if you watch an hour of news in the morning, have kids watch their shows for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and watch three hours during prime time hours. During the pandemic, especially, when video content is the primary form of entertainment for many people, that’s probably not uncommon.

Granted, most people don’t watch everything in 4K, even if they have a 4K TV and devices. If you stream 180 hours of HD video, while watching a movie here and there in 4K, you’ll stay well under 1.2TB. But as 4K becomes more standard, data usage will climb. This isn’t necessarily something you’ll feel right away, but, if the cap stays in place, it will catch up to you within a few years.

What is a cord cutter who doesn’t want to keep track of every gigabyte of streaming data to do? There are multiple options for internet service providers in Delaware, including homegrown ISP WhyFly (which is pretty much made for cord cutters) and Verizon FiOS, which doesn’t enforce data caps at the moment.

Companies: WhyFly / Comcast

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