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Want to know if your ISP is capping data? Check our updated chart

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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

32 Responses to “Want to know if your ISP is capping data? Check our updated chart”

  1. D. Patterson

    Verizon must have recently put caps on, because I have their Homefusion Broadband and they have data allowance tiers of: 10gb for $60, 20gb for $90, & 30gb for $120.

  2. Eldric IV

    A suggestion for the next iteration of this chart: alphabetical order by ISP

    I have no clue how this particular chart is ordered (it is not by name, cap size, or overage charge) but it makes it difficult to find one’s particular ISP (given it is a pretty small chart).

  3. Jackson Taylor

    I don’t pay the AT&T Uverse bill in my household, I was wondering if we had a cap. I was never made aware of it, even though I’m the one to call the cable company when stuff goes wrong. But $10 for 50GB is hardly expensive to me.

    Depending on how they play their cards, I’d love to stay with AT&T for Gigabit service here in KC if I don’t have to sign up for vaporware 300mbps in the “meantime”. If they roll out gigabit service at a similar price, no cap, I’ll be very happy. The stability of my Uverse service has been *phenomenal*.

    The only hiccups I remember are once when a fake AT&T tech came and messed up the lines (he showed up with a truck and uniform and said they found something wrong with the pole on their end, so I was like whatever, and then after he left service was all screwed up and he didn’t show up on the account history and wouldn’t give a business card – ???) and when the 2wire modem wore out and started dropping once (they just overnighted a new one and plugged it in). Then the speed was getting really low recently (like dropping to <1mbps from 12 for a few days at a time) and the tech just swapped the modem and removed my Netgear router from the setup, citing that as the problem (BS, unless it somehow wore out which I doubt, but the new modem he swapped in is gigabit ethernet which was my main concern, so I'm happy) and left his personal phone number. Those little things are NOTHING compared to TWC, the other option in my city. Well, we have SureWest, but they don't have many options (like just crappy bundle plans with 10mb internet, screw that).

  4. Daennen Windtear

    I currently have Suddenlink and only since about June 2013 have they started enforcing the caps again. They tried it back in 2010 but stopped soon after due to complaints or at least that is what I read.

    Have you all seen how this is effecting video gamers ? The new titles for the PS4 and Xbox One are in the 25-60GB range on average. That is 5-9 games a month. If we download just a couple games, patches , etc. I would hit my cap. That is without using Hulu, Netflix, counting online play and streaming events from I live with 2 other people who all play games, watch shows online, and use VOIP services such as Teamspeak and Skype. What exactly are we supposed to do ?

    I have had it suggested that we get a business line but that is almost a hundred dollars more for less speed but higher caps. They laid fiber in my area but they won’t even use DOCSIS 3.0 or the Fiber yet. (Last I checked they said 2015) At least we could up the cap to 350GB from 250GB and get faster speeds for $15 more a month if they would just get the fiber running.

    What is with these companies holding back the internet progress in this country and why is the government not doing anything about it ? sheesh…

    • I have heard that, but I also double checked with AT&T about that and the spokesman gave me the above information. So, while they may not always enforce the caps, they either want to appear as if they do, or are giving some people special treatment. Either way, I didn’t want to tell people AT&T wasn’t enforcing caps when AT&T told me it is.

  5. Thank you for posting this. It’s just awful. And to add insult to injury, have you also noticed how grocery stores across the country are capping eggs at one dozen? That’s right, if we want more than a dozen, they make us buy more, those greedy rascals. It’s just an outrage that we cannot pay one price and consume as much as we want of something. Hopefully one day consumers and businesses will become more enlightened to what you already see so clearly!! On that note, will gigaom be launching soon that unlimited ad service soon so folks don’t get capped at 1k impressions and forced to buy more if they need more? That’s going to be a real hit in the market and y’all are going to clean up!!

    • There’s a production cost to each egg. The ISP’s do not produce bits or bytes. What is the productions cost of a byte? ISPs own the lines that transfer electrons. What is the cost of transferring one electron, compared to transferring one million electrons?

    • 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.

    • 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%

  6. 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.

  7. Melissa Raney Turner

    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!

    • Kevin Wolfe

      @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.

    • 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…