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Does your ISP have data caps ? If not, great, but if so: Are they too low ?

In today's trend of increasing moving of entertainment such as television, movies and music on to the Internet, bandwidth caps - or how much data you can transfer over the Internet is becoming an increasingly important issue.

Most, if not all, of the large incubmant telephone company ISPs and cable company ISPs have data caps; While they say it's for "network or congestion management", the much more believable reason is that they want you to use their own entertainment services which, despite violating net neutrality principles, will not count against your cap.

What many people do not know is that you more often than not do have a choice in ISP: You don't have to use your telephone or cable company as an Internet Service Provider. is a website for Canadians that let citizens know of just how many choices they have in ISPs. This choice is especially broad in large city centres, like Toronto, Ontario, Vancouver, British Columbia or Montréal, Québec, just to name three.

Many non-telephone or cable company (telco or cableco) ISPs do have caps, themselves: This isn't because they believe in the "network management" excuse that the telco/cablecos give, but because their networks have to tie into the larger networks of the telco/cablecos (their "upstream providers") - Which means they are forced into implementing caps of some sort, as well.

However: It is important to point out that just because you have a cap, or a limit, on your account, that is not always a bad thing: It is the size of the cap that matters: Most caps are measured in gigabytes, or GB. If you have a cap of under 200 GB and you use the 'net for NetFlix, Hulu or a lot of YouTube, you will most likely run into an overage situation, where you use more than your allotted cap and will be billed more at the end of the month.

At this time, the average Canadian seems to be around the ~200 gigabyte range; As such, a cap of 200 gigabytes or higher will be more than sufficient for those that use the 'net for some or most of their entertainment use, though some tips for keeping bandwidth usage down are still useful:

  • Turn apps that constantly check the 'net for updates off when not in use, such as Steam, weather applets, Internet radio, stock tickers, and the like.
  • If your computer is left on 24/7, do not leave your email application to check mail every five minutes. Shutting the email app off when not in use is a good idea.
  • Do not leave your web browser open on such sites that auto-refresh every X minutes, such as
  • Websites like Facebook constantly use bandwidth to check for updates: Shut them down when not in use.
  • Sites like Netflix do indeed have lower quality - and therefore lower bandwidth options.
  • Many ISPs offer a bandwidth usage app or a website to check for usage: Make use of it regularly.

These are just a few suggestions for lowering the chances of getting an overage bill.

The Internet has become so pervasive in our lives that it is worth thinking of it like your electricity bill: We shut off lights to keep the bill down; It is often the same with the 'net: Shutting down bandwidth using applications can keep your overage bill down or to zero, altogether.

If you do find yourself hit with an overage bill, especially more than one, it may be time to either check with your provider for a package that offers a higher download limit, or check on for another ISP that offers higher caps or unlimited caps. One of the most frequent comments to is "Thank you for your site! I had no idea I actually had this many choices in my city!"

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