The internet is becoming the foundation of most people’s recreational lives, and as a result the average Joe is needs significantly more data at his disposal than he did 10 years ago. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) know this, which is why they offer us a wide range of internet packages, often featuring ‘unlimited data’.
The problem is unlimited data very rarely means what you think it does.
ISP companies employ various sketchy practices to sell you an internet plan with “unlimited data”, but more often than not if you read the fine print you’ll find that there is invariably a cap of some kind. This is done in various ways, such as the following:
- Most commonly, they’ll provide you with “unlimited” access to the internet but slow your speed down after you expend a certain amount of data. For instance, my own internet plan is “unlimited”, but if I use more than 500 gigabytes of data then my provider slows my speeds down to a rate that makes it painful to perform simple tasks like read emails. It is unlimited in the sense that they never cut your service, but not in the way that you have infinite data.
- Other times they’ll actually give you unlimited data but put restrictions on when you can use it – for instance you may have a 100gb limit between the hours of 9AM to 10PM and then unlimited data during the off-peak period of 10PM to 9AM.
- Sometimes ISPs will simply advertise unlimited data but really only offer what they perceive to be a large about – in other words, blatantly lie about what they’re selling.
Keep in mind, not all ISP’s utilize such trickery, but a lot do. There are still some service providers, like who actually do offer unlimited data. For example, Jiva has an unlimited internet plan with no download limits or restrictions. It’s important that you check that the unlimited data your prospective ISP offers is just a marketing tool or the real thing.
Only a few years ago 500 gigabytes a month would’ve been plenty, but the world is being digitalized in front of our eyes. Through iTunes, Google Play, NetFlix, Steam and other services, all of our entertainment is increasingly being distributed through online means; music, movies, games – everything.
And that’s not even considering all the data expended through browsing the internet, which often involves the constant streaming of music and videos. If you have roommates or a family, 500 gigabytes, or whatever amount ISPs are claiming is unlimited, will often not be enough.
Put simply, when choosing an internet plan make sure you read the fine print!
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