What is a Download Allowance? | Compare the Market

What is a broadband data usage allowance?

What is a broadband data usage allowance?

When it comes to taking out a new broadband deal, one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether you’re happy with a data usage allowance or want an unlimited broadband package. Here’s everything you need to know about broadband data limits.

Rohit Makol From the Broadband team
4
minute read
posted

How is download data usage measured?

When it comes to downloading data, you need to find out the answers to two questions before you choose a broadband package:

  • How fast can you download data? The speed of downloading data is measured in Mbps (megabits per second). See broadband speeds explained.
  • How much of it can you download each month? The amount of data you can download is usually measured in megabytes (MB) and sometimes in gigabytes (GB) and kilobytes (KB). 
How is download data usage measured?

What are typical download limits?

Download limits vary between providers and the packages on offer. 

  • What are the highest and lowest download limits around? Monthly download limits for home broadband use can vary from around 10GB per month to unlimited usage.
  • How can I avoid being hit by a data limit? If you’re able to choose from multiple suppliers where you live, most will be able to offer both an unlimited usage package and packages with a stated download limit, so just choose a package that will sufficiently cover your typical data usage. Most major providers offer an unlimited package.
What are typical download limits?

How much data will I use doing different things?

Data usage varies depending on what you’re doing. Broadly speaking, if you’re a family with heavy internet usage including movie and music streaming, any allowance might soon get used up. Don't forget watching catch up TV on your smart TV will eat into your data allowance too – it's not just your laptops, mobiles and tablets. In these circumstances an unlimited package might be worth considering.

Activity Data use
1hr web browsing 10-25 MB
Downloading a music track 4 MB
1hr on social media 20 MB
Streaming 1hr of music or radio 150 MB
Streaming 30mins of YouTube 200 MB
Downloading a SD film 700 MB - 1 GB
Downloading a HD film 4 GB
Streaming 1hr of SD video 1 GB
Streaming 1hr of iPlayer 225 MB

What data limit do I need?

Now you know how much data your activities use, simply work out what data allowance you need and then choose the broadband deal that’s right for you. Some internet providers offer you usage monitors in your account so you can see how much data you have been using to help keep you on track.

Type of user Monthly limit needed
Light 10 GB
Frequent 25 GB
Heavy 50 GB
Very heavy 100 GB

What happens if I exceed my data usage limits?

If you go over your limit two things could happen:

  • extra payments: your provider will likely charge you extra amounts for each GB of data you use above your allowance.
  • throttling bandwidth: your internet provider may turn down the speed that they’re supplying to you, making all but the most basic of browsing almost impossible. 
What happens if I exceed my data usage limits?

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