In September, Comcast announced a cap on data usage for their internet subscribers. When I read the announcement and the numerous complaints by writers and subscribers, I ignored it all. I assumed the noise was from the high usage folks who were worried about their ability to game all night or share a connection with an entire fraternity house at a large university. It seems I should have been more concerned. I’m now guilty of overage!
The Data Cap
On October 30th, I reached the monthly 300GB data cap Comcast imposes on its users in Georgia and most of its subscribers in the southeastern US. Once you go past this point, you pay $10 per 50GB block of data allocated to you until the counter is reset for your next month of service. Comcast does allow you 3 overages before you see this extra charge. So, I won’t see a $10 charge on my next bill. How did this happen in a household consisting of two empty nesters who don’t own a gaming console, don’t stream movies all night and don’t share large blocks of data (video, audio, pictures) with others?
We subscribe to Comcast’s Xfinity HD Premier XF Triple Play, which includes the Xfinity Extreme 105 internet service. I consistently see a 12ms ping, 125Mbps download speed and 25Mbps upload speeds. And I rarely see downtime. We have the connection mated to an Apple Extreme Base Station (the latest) and 3 Apple Express Base Stations acting in wireless distribution mode. Using this wifi network are three Macs (Macbook Pro and two Mac Minis), a Dell XPS Laptop, two iPhones, one HTC One M9 phone, two 32MB iPad Minis, a Roku 3, two 3rd generation Apple TVs and an Amazon Echo. Most of these though are used rather infrequently. I use the Macbook Pro 15, the iPhone 6 and the HTC One every day. My wife uses the iPhone 5s and the Dell XPS every day. All the other devices are merely for special situations. Could those special situations be what drove us over our limit? Could our primary devices be the culprits? Is the cap to small given our reliance on internet connectivity that is now highly reliable and fast? The answer is yes to all three of these questions.
More Devices, More Dependency, More Data Needed
This month (October), I upgraded two of my Macs to El Capitan, each requiring over 5 GB downloads. I upgraded the two iPhones and iPads to iOS9, each requiring 1 GB downloads. These were on top of the normal weekly updates to all the apps on these 64GB phones and as well on my HTC. I also had my 32GB HTC replaced (LTE radio problem) requiring a cloud backup and a cloud restore. I gave numerous demos using the Zoom web and video conferencing service. We binge-watched Longmire Season 4. We watched the normal number of movies on Netflix. We rented a couple of new movies from Apple. For one week I watched quite a few documentaries while laying in bed trying to fight the flu. We spent the normal amount of time picking through Facebook looking at those funny or strange videos posted by people we know. We streamed the normal amount of music via PandoraOne and Apple Music.
Just when we feel confident about our monthly mobile phone service fees, cable overages rear their ugly head. This will only become worse as we all become more dependent on higher internet speeds and associated data volumes.
In the meantime, keep an eye on your data usage.