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Data Cap – What Internet Providers Have Them and Why

Data Caps

Let’s say you’re shopping for a good internet plan. Most people are just looking to get the fastest possible speeds at the lowest possible price. So would you, most probably, which is fairly reasonable. However, too many people overlook data cap which impacts your internet usage.

Provider Data Cap Overages
Optimum Unlimited None
Cox 1 TB, Unlimited $10 for every additional 50GB
Spectrum Unlimited None
Frontier Unlimited None
CenturyLink 1 TB, Unlimited None
Wow Unlimited None
Cincinnati Bell Unlimited None
Windstream Unlimited None
Mediacom 350 GB – 6 TB $10 for every additional 50GB
HughesNet 10 – 50 GB, No hard limits None


What are Data Caps?

Data caps are limits on the amount of data you can send or receive over your internet services. Your internet service provider will enforce this limit and can charge you extra if you exceed it. All your internet activities like social media scrolling, Netflix, downloading, and gaming consume the limited amount of data you have. If you aren’t careful or live in a usage-intensive household, you may exceed your limit and receive a nasty surprise for that billing cycle.

Why do ISPs Enforce Data Limits?

Data caps are one of the most annoying aspects of many internet service subscriptions. However, you may not understand that while they are frustrating, they are a necessary evil. Most internet service providers state that they enforce caps on their data to offer a better internet experience to all their customers. Don’t see how that makes sense? Read on below.

Your ISP can only support and produce a finite amount of capacity and bandwidth. A few usage-intensive households can slow down speeds for other customers in the same area. Data limits and policies often carry the name “Fair Usage”. This implies they are in place to offer everyone a fair and impartial internet experience.

Internet Activities that Consume Data

So now we know what data caps are and why most internet service providers enforce them. Let’s take a look at some popular, everyday internet activities that are often the culprits behind you exceeding your data limit.

  • According to Netflix, full HD streaming consumes up to 3GB per hour. Streaming in 4K UHD consumers more than double that, up to 7GB per hour.
  • If you’re constantly downloading files and music, the size of each file will eat into your data limit. A 1GB file will knock 1GB off your data limit.
  • If you’re a serious gamer spending up to 10 hours a day on online gaming, your uploads will consume your data as well.

Popular Internet Service Providers and Their Data Policies

The table above shows most popular internet providers, their data limit policies and their overage charges if any. However, let’s take a look at these ISPs to get a better idea of their data policies and what overages can cost you.

Optimum vs Spectrum internet review


Optimum is a very popular internet service provider operating in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It has a subscriber base of over 12.4 million customers in these areas. One of the reasons Optimum is so popular is that it has no data limits and offers unlimited data with your subscription. It deals with usage-heavy customers on a case-by-case basis to ensure fair usage for all its subscribers.


COX Cable Company


Cox operates cable TV and internet services in 18 states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida. It is one of the biggest providers in the United States, with over 20,000 employees. Cox has a single data limit of 1TB for all its internet plans.

It also allows you to purchase an additional data block of around 500GB for $29.99 per month. Cox charges you overages amounting to $10 for each additional 50GB you consume. The Cox Connect app lets you keep track of your data usage which helps in staying under the limit. Luckily, you can opt for an unlimited data plan as well. This will cost you $49.99 every month.


In terms of coverage area and subscribers, there are very few ISPs that can compete with Spectrum. The provider offers its services in 48 states across the United States of America, making it a big player in an arena of giants. Unlike many providers, Spectrum does not have a data cap in place and does not charge you any overages. In other words, all Spectrum plans come with unlimited data by default. This, along with its wide service availability, makes Spectrum a favorite in most American households.

Frontier Cable Company


Frontier is the fourth largest internet provider in the United States and operates in 29 states within the U.S. Like Spectrum, Frontier does not cap the data it offers with its internet subscriptions. That essentially means you get unlimited data along with no overages when you subscribe to a Frontier internet plan. Perks like these make Frontier a top choice in America.

CenturyLink Cable Company


CenturyLink offers DSL internet to 50 states across the United States. It covers approximately 48.3 million people in the United States. CenturyLink constantly checks its network for congestions to ensure fair usage for all its subscribers. There is a data limit of around 1TB on its internet packages, but it does not charge you for overages.

If you exceed your internet usage, the provider may ask you to limit your usage under 1TB, upgrade your plan, or subscribe to a business plan. If you do none of these things, your service will be disconnected after the 3rd month of excessive usage in a 12-month period.




WOW! offers internet plans without any data limits. It also does not charge you for any overages. WOW! Internet can reach speeds up to 1,000Mbps and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. WOW! is best for larger households that need high-speed internet. If you’re a member of a smaller household with lighter internet usage, you may want to consider other, more affordable options.


Cincinnati Bell

Cincinnati Bell

Cincinnati Bell operates primarily in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. Unlike many other providers in the area, Cincinnati Bell does not set any caps on its internet packages. There are also no overage charges, offering you unlimited internet if you are within its coverage area.   



Windstream offers internet services in 18 states including Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. There are a few things that make it a popular choice for internet consumers. One of these is the fact that Windstream does not have any caps and offers unlimited data with no overages. Windstream only offers DSL internet.

Mediacom Internet

Mediacom Internet

Mediacom has different data caps on its internet plans, depending on the plan you choose. There are a total of 5 internet packages and 5 different data caps for these plans. Each higher-tier plan comes with a higher data limit, which means you can always upgrade if you keep exceeding your limit. Like most providers, Mediacom charges overage at $10 for each additional 50GB consumed. Your Mediacom account comes with a usage meter that can help you keep track of your internet usage.




It is one of the most popular satellite internet services in the United States. HughesNet does not have any hard data limits in place, but it does cap your data depending on what plan you choose.

Based on your plan, you can get caps between 10 – 50GB on your subscription. Once you exceed this, they will throttle your internet speeds to between 1 – 3 Mbps for the remainder of that billing cycle. You do get an additional 50GB every month for use between 2 am – 8 am.

This runs at full speed, even if you are over your limit. You can always get Data Tokens to remove the throttle on your speeds. Your HughesNet account also lets you monitor and track your data usage through your HughesNet account.



Data caps depends upon your internet package/bundle. This information is taken from the official site and last reviewed on 11th Jun 2019.

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