It’s not unusual for a household to consume hundreds of GB of data per month. Heavy users who regularly do online video streaming can even go over 1TB per month. Thanks to HD and 4K videos as well as faster connection speeds, it’s easy to use up tremendous amounts of data to quickly go over the allotted data limit for a month (with a limited broadband plan).
In the past, choosing an unlimited broadband service was a no brainer. Unlimited plans were frequently used by companies to attract new subscribers and back then they really meant an unlimited service. In recent years, though, the so-called “unlimited” broadband services have been subjected to data limits or caps. ISPs may still provide continuous internet connection service after you reach the allotted data limit but your speed will be significantly reduced. You’d be lucky if you can get 10% to 30% of your plan’s speed once you have already reached your data cap. This is the reason you need to find a better deal for broadband so that you can keep enjoying a high speed data connection while still staying within your budget.
Nowadays, you have the option to go for a limited broadband connection or an unlimited one (a truly unlimited plan) with cost as the main deciding factor. Usually, you will be paying less if you choose to get a limited connection. Unlimited broadband, obviously, costs higher but the advantage is clear: consistent speed regardless of how much data you have already consumed.
But how exactly do you determine if you should get an internet connection without a bandwidth limit? How do you know which one is better for you? Consider the following pointers.
1. Evaluate Your Usual Usage and Ascertain Your Need
Before you can proceed to determining which is better for you, you need to know your usage and be clear on how much data you really need. Bear in mind that when you do your estimates, you should take into account not just your downloads but also your uploads. The data limits imposed by broadband service companies don’t only refer to downloads but also include uploads. It’s advisable to check your router’s or modem’s dashboard to see actual statistics of your bandwidth usage within a month or a particular period. If you are new getting a broadband service (you don’t have a modem/router to examine yet), you can just try using online bandwidth usage estimation tools.
It’s important that as you evaluate your bandwidth usage, you are also taking note of what online activities you are doing. Do an estimation of how much time you spend watching online videos, how much data you upload online, how much time you spend with online gaming, how much time you spend making online audio or video calls, and how often you stream music. These are the heaviest bandwidth consuming activities so you have to carefully watch out for them. Web browsing, email sending, and social media activities only consume minimal data so they are negligible.
After determining your typical bandwidth usage, find out if that’s the level of usage you will be sticking with or if you need more for other possible online activities. Consider adding some allowance of a few GBs to your estimated data consumption.
2. Compare Your Usage to the Available Plans
Once you have decided how much data you will be needing on a monthly basis, compare it with the plans available in your area. Be sure to obtain information about all, if possible, internet service providers near your location. Almost all of them should have a website. You can also refer to broadband plan comparisons online.
3. Decide Which One Offers the Better Overall Package and Is More Cost-Efficient
As mentioned, deciding on whether you want to get a limited or unlimited plan is mostly a matter of cost. If your regular data usage is within the allocations provided by a limited plan, of course it makes sense giving preference to that limited plan. Otherwise, your options will have to be “limited” to the unlimited plans. Most companies will allow you to extend your data limit by paying more. Take this into account as you calculate the cost you will be paying.
4. Get Feedback or Reviews from Other Users
It’s not enough that you found plans that match your needs. You have to narrow down your options further by eliminating those that don’t offer reliable service as well as those that fail when it comes to customer service. Filter your options based on their service quality by asking for feedback from those who have already tried these services. You may use the reviews published online but be sure to verify the information they present. Only a few of them can be relied upon, and most are published to favor a specific company so be prudent in using the information they present.
5. Consider the following:
Unlimited Is Better If….
- Your household is a heavy internet user regularly streaming multimedia content online or using internet connection for gaming and the uploading of content online, HD videos in particular.
- You want to ditch your cable subscription and just rely on online streaming for your “TV” viewing habits.
- You are using your broadband connection for business or work. If you have a home-based business or if you work from home, it only makes sense that you get an unlimited plan. You certainly wouldn’t want to be cut from work or be prevented from completing transactions because you have already reached your data limit.
- You regularly need to use cloud services, including online backup or recovery solutions.
Limited Is Better If….
- You are a mild to moderate Internet user with usage not exceeding 50GB per month. A limited plan will definitely be the more cost-efficient option if you are just using your internet connection for web browsing, email sending, online chats, occasional video watching, and social media activities.
- You only have occasional instances of large data usage. If you only need heavy bandwidth consumption for certain months, it would be better to just pay for the extension of your data limit when you need it.
- You have another internet connection service (mobile) and you don’t often use your home broadband connection.
- You are trying out services. If you are still in the process of testing a broadband service, it’s not a bad choice going for the limited service first (or a lower priced plan). In most cases, it’s more expensive downgrading a service instead of having it upgraded. Downgrading plans usually involve fees while upgrades don’t.
If you are the usual internet user (usually active online), an unlimited broadband plan is usually a good choice, especially if you reside in a place where there are many broadband service providers. You typically only get into the dilemma of choosing between limited and unlimited when you have fewer options and the competition among ISPs is almost nonexistent. Take the points discussed above into account in case you encounter an instance when you have to choose between limited or unlimited.