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Summary:

We’re not fans of ISPs capping broadband here at Gigaom, so we’re keeping a close eye on how those caps evolve and who they affect. Check out our updated list on who’s capping your broadband.

datacaps

As we prep for the launch of two new consoles that will allow people to download games that are 30 GB to 50 GB in size, and as new research comes out showing that over-the-top television viewing is rising, it’s worth taking an updated look at how ISPs around the U.S. are trying to implement caps.

We wrote our original chart in October 2012, noting that at that time 64 percent of Americans were covered by a cap at the end of 2011. Today (or rather, at the end of the second quarter) the percent of American broadband subscribers covered by a cap remains the same. However, the caps themselves are changing.

Comcast still hasn’t settled on a particular capping scheme yet, although it is expanding its 300GB capped plan that offers overage charges of $10 for every 50 GB over the limit. Meanwhile, Cable One has changed what was a complex cap scheme that was based on time of day and service tier into a blanket cap determined by the speed of broadband you buy.

AT&T has decided to implement a cap on its gigabit service, although it hasn’t determined what that cap might be. Meanwhile, CenturyLink has decided not to cap its gigabit customers. Time Warner Cable is expanding an opt-in program that offers discounts to users if they accept a cap — a program that Comcast is trialing as well. The Time Warner program is now offering a $5 discount and an $8 discount on its 2Mbps, 3Mbps and 15 Mbps tiers so users who stay below a 5 GB cap get $8 off the retail price, while users staying below 30 GB get $5 off the retail price. These are opt-in plans.

In most cases, the companies implementing caps maintain that 99 or 98 percent of their users don’t go over them and have median usages that range between 12 and 18 GB per month. So here are the top broadband providers in the U.S. and their caps. Last year we included a column for exceptions to the cap, but this year there aren’t any, so we took that column out.

U.S. Broadband Caps Detailed
ISP Cap Details Overage costs
Comcast 300GB per month Comcast suspended its cap in May 2012 after raising it to 300GB. It’s unclear what form the cap will take. Comcast is testing an overage fee that lets you pay $10 for 50 GB more.
AT&T 250GB or 150 GB per month Subscribers to AT&T’s faster Uverse product have a 250 GB cap while those subscribing to basic DSL have a 150 GB cap. The gigabit service will have a higher cap commensurate with its speed. Customers pay $10 for 50 GB
TWC no
Verizon no
CenturyLink 150 GB per month to 250 GB per month Plans with speeds of 1.5Mbps have a 150 GB cap. Plans with speeds greater than 1.5Mbps have 250 GB cap. None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.
Cox 50GB-400GB per month Faster tiers have higher caps. None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.
Charter 100 GB – 500 GB per month Faster tiers have higher caps. None, you’re cut off.
Cablevision no
Frontier no
Windstream no
Suddenlink 150GB to 350 GB per month Faster tiers have higher caps. Customers pay $10 for 50 GB after third time going over.
MediaCom 250 GB to 999 GB per month Faster tiers have higher caps. Customers pay $10 for 50 GB.
Cable One 300 GB to 500 GB per month Caps depend on the type of plan one chooses; Streaming, Premier, Ultra None, you’re encouraged to move to a higher tier.
FairPoint no
Cincinnati Bell no
  1. I’m glad you’re keeping an eye on it. It’s pretty far off my radar, because I don’t figure I even approach being capped for home use. Writing my blog takes precious little data!

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  2. Big ups for Verizon having no caps. FiOS for the win!

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  3. James Dabbagian Friday, November 15, 2013

    The whole concept of overage caps is ridiculous. We have plenty of broadband…it’s just the ISPs that say otherwise.

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  4. Melissa Raney Turner Friday, November 15, 2013

    Where we live in the country, the only high speed option we have is satellite. It’s horrible. It doesn’t start out too slow, but they have set a 10 GB cap (that’s right, I said TEN) and after that each month, we’re throttled. We’re paying around $60 per month! We usually reach that limit within the first 10-14 days of the billing cycle – and we do NO video streaming. My parents live next door and use the service from our router, but my husband, daughter, and I are gone from 8a – 6p every day during the week, and most Sundays. It’s ridiculous and frustrating, especially when I see caps in the HUNDREDS of GB!

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    1. @melissa, i’ve been there, with satellite and more recently “mobile broadband” (is about double as ‘broad’ as satellite). Even with the switch to ADSL via the ‘National Broadband Network’ initiative, i’m paying $50 a month for only 25GB. That seemed like a lot for a couple of months, but then EVERYTHING insists on updating over the internet nowadays and i’m struggling to not use that much every month. Plus youtube has video advertising every 3 or 4 videos, which sucks more of my limit.

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    2. My older cousin lives in Virginia and she has satellite internet. Her daily cap is 100 MB per day! I was shocked to hear her say that because that’s just ridiculous! Some files are larger than that! I think my virus protector’s initial download is over 100 MB… Smh…

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  5. I think monthly caps make a lot of sense. They allow us to have much faster instantaneous access speeds, with the caveat that we can’t use it around the clock. E.g., 300 GB/month is only about 121 KB/second, if they replaced the monthly cap with an access speed cap. Whether the particular cap that any ISP sets is a good deal is a different question, but the principle makes sense for most users.

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    1. Monthly caps make no sense. You have to ration Netflix and other streaming services. it limits what you can buy online because you have to be “careful” and it’s a poor customer service.

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    2. Tim, Tim, Tim, What’s the speed of an electron? Is it easier to speed up or slow down a electron? What’s that cost? What is the cost of a byte? These caps are to choke the competition, Netflix, Roku, Chromecast, Hulu, Aereo, Skype, bit torrents, ect. ect. ect.
      ISP’s are cable providers and phone companies. They are dinosaurs clinging to their last kill.

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    3. Patrick Freedom Eagle Sparks Friday, December 27, 2013

      Do you work for an ISP? Because as a an educated user this infuriates me.

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    4. You obviously know nothing about networking technology.

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  6. Just to add in something about U-Verse. They claim to have a 250gb data cap, but they have not enacted it nor do they enforce it.

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    1. I just signed up for Uverse and on their site they have a link to check your usage and when you click it you can not find the info anywhere. I called tech support and have been told three different things by different techs.

      1. There is a cap but they dont enforce it
      2. No cap
      3. There is a cap, you cant check it online even though their website says you can and they will send a text/email alert at 60, 80 and 95%

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  7. Sorry but Cox does indeed have limits. 50gb to 400gb depending on the package. http://ww2.cox.com/aboutus/arizona/policies/speedsusage.cox

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    1. We note that Cox has limits in the chart.

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  8. What about rate caps? Daily caps?

    When I was a Time Warner ISP customer, after two movies on Netflix or iTunes, the server would suddenly become “unavailable”.

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    1. I’ve never encountered this issue with TWC and my wife is a pretty heavy Netflix user, especially if she really gets into a series. There have been single days though were she has used 8 GB mainly with Netflix. Maybe we just don’t use enough though, we average about 30 to 50 GB a month.

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  9. This article makes me want to cry. I live in a rural area where satellite internet is my only option (we have Wildblue/Exede). We currently pay an OUTRAGEOUS $138 a month for 25GB of bandwidth. That’s 25GB NOT 250GB!!!!

    There is a great digital divide in this country that very few acknowledge.

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    1. If your only options are satellite, I feel sorry for you because you’re getting rooked.

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  10. i shoot adult stuff and caps are bad. sam somwaru

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