Daily Archives: November 29, 2016

Navigating our Data Caps

Dang it, data caps.

That’s where I want to start. We have been dealing with a data cap with our cable broadband provider for years. They used to have unlimited with bundles, but that even has gone away – and with that, over time, has gone our home phone and, eventually, our cable. We’ve chronicled some of these decisions over time as they’ve happened.

As we moved into the disconnected world, watching all our media through streaming services and apps, we’ve really watched our data use. It seemed like the thing to do. Trying to figure out what a normal data amount was, what the right plan for us would be. The thing is, the plan options were 150GB a month, or else then doubled to 300GB. We came to find that our monthly use was roughly 170GB a month, so with the option to add more data in 10GB chunks, it was cheaper to do that than to double our plan.

Now, with that, it still often meant dialing back our use a bit later in the month. Skipping updating devices, maybe tending towards video games or other options instead of watching shows, or DVDs over streaming a movie. Leaving our phones on data instead of WiFi.

Unfortunately, this also meant that there were things we’ve never gotten to download at all… Backups of things, whole seasons of shows we’ve bought on iTunes and never downloaded… There’s a new Mac operating system I haven’t even really thought about updating to…

Last month, our provider increased their speeds and increased their data caps. Yay! Problem solved, we thought. Our same priced plan increased to 250GB a month, and several times the speed. Life seemed good.

However, we didn’t really increase our use much. Our normal sort of start-of-month catch-up on updates we were putting off from the month before… But really, like for streaming things, we don’t have much more time in our months anyway to do more. Plus, we can see the data use by day, so…

Yeah, why was it exactly that our data use increased pretty much completely proportionally to the increase in data?

All of a sudden we hit the 250, and had to add more data. The more data to add is now the same price for 25GB, but still… How did this happen?

We’re guessing. Since we moved from Hulu to watching on the apps for the various channels (which aren’t account based and don’t really have much in the way of “settings”), maybe these apps are set up to stream the highest quality they can. Indeed, maybe most of our apps work like that, and give us the highest definition possible by utilizing our maximum speed. Maybe it’s all a big scam. We don’t know, and at this point, we’ve decided we don’t care.

I understand, we’re lucky. We’re fighting awful data caps, but we live in a place where we have an alternative. What was once the dial up company has higher speed Internet coming through the phone lines, and their competitive difference is that they have unlimited data. So for the same price a month base, we can have unlimited. Their speed is not as high, but honestly, we probably don’t need it to be.

After several phone calls, using their site so many times their Captcha was starting to treat me like a robot, and a bunch of emails… I think I’m expecting a call from a tech to schedule a time to come get us set up? I feel like they have a bunch of artificial barriers I’ve been having to fight to get their service, so it’s a testament to how important unlimited data is these days that we’re still trying to do this. I will say, their customer service folks have been good to work with.

Data is just such a big part of how things work these days, and things are happening that seem to assume an unlimited data environment. Apps are updated by downloading the whole app again and replacing it wholesale. Social media tries to auto-play videos. The best television is on the streaming services. Computers and cell phones are a big part of life, or work. All the talk about fake news has gotten to the stats that a large percentage of Americans (and maybe others in the world?) get their news from social media.

Hopefully this works out for us, and we’ll have unlimited Internet soon! Then we’ll start this great glut of data as we catch up on things we’ve never downloaded…