Internet data caps: Who has them, who doesn’t and what you need to know

Samantha Cossick

Jul 26, 2019 — 6 min read

Going over your internet data cap could cost you, depending on which provider you have. Keep up with who does and doesn’t have data caps.

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You’re streaming, surfing and downloading to your heart’s content until … Oh no, what is that? You’re about to hit your internet data cap.

It’s not uncommon for providers to have data caps on home internet, but it can be confusing.

If you’re not sure which internet service providers have data caps, how much going over your data may cost or how to get no data cap internet, then you’re in the right place.

Internet data caps by provider

Many providers offer options to pre-purchase additional data if you know you’re going to use a lot for the month or add unlimited data to your plan. For instance, if your Buckeye data usage is going to be high one month, you can pre-purchase an additional 150 GB of data for $15 — same price as the overage fee, but triple the data.

Brands, like AT&T, which already offers 1 TB internet, offer options to add unlimited data on select plans for a monthly fee, while for others, like Spectrum, data caps don’t exist. Some providers, like CenturyLink, don’t have fees for going over your data cap, but may discontinue your service if you habitually exceed your data limit.

What to know about internet data caps

Data caps are provider-imposed limits on the amount of data you’re able to transfer while completing activities online. The amount of data you use depends on your online activities.

For instance, sending and receiving emails may only use a few megabytes of data whereas streaming one hour of TV or movies in HD on Netflix uses up to 3 GB of data. Imposing data caps or throttling your internet use is an internet service provider’s way of discouraging excessive use and taxing their bandwidth.

However, as interest in streaming services continues to grow, customers may think twice about which internet service provider they choose based on internet data limits.

According to Statista, the number of Netflix streaming subscribers in the U.S. has grown from 21.45 million in Q3 of 2011 to 58.46 in Q3 of 2018. In April of 2017, U.S. households spent an average of 81 hours streaming DIRECTV NOW, 29 hours streaming Hulu, 27 hours streaming Netflix and 17 hours streaming YouTube, Statista data found.

So, between multiple streaming sources, online gaming, shopping online and more, do you need to be concerned about going over a 1 TB internet data cap? Probably not.

Consumer Reports estimated in 2016 that “You could watch every episode from all four seasons of House of Cards — 52 hours in all [at that point]— in 4K resolution in one month and barely crack the halfway mark of your data cap.”

If you are still concerned that your Netflix binges may send you over a data cap, you can follow our tips on managing household data consumption, or take a look at which providers have internet data caps or offer no data cap internet.

Data caps on home internet FAQs

Which providers have internet data caps?

The following providers have varying data caps on their internet plans:

Which providers have internet without data caps?

You can get no data cap internet from the following providers:

Which providers let you add unlimited data for an additional cost?

You can add unlimited data to select plans from the following providers:

Internet data cap details by provider

Providers who do have data limits often give more data to plans with faster internet speeds. As mentioned above, some providers allow you to upgrade to unlimited data while others may discontinue your service and still others may give you “courtesy months” with notices, but no data fees. Here’s what you need to know:

AT&T data caps

AT&T allows 150 GB data cap for DSL customers, 215 GB per month for fixed wireless internet service, and then 1 TB data caps for most plans. Customers who opt for a 1,000 Mbps plan or a bundle with DIRECTV, may qualify for unlimited data plans. Going over your AT&T data cap will result in a $10 per 50 GB of data charge, or you can add unlimited data for an additional $30/mo.*

Buckeye Broadband data caps

Buckeye Broadband has data caps of 10 GB on their Starter Internet plan, 250 GB on their Back to School 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps plans and unlimited data on 1,000 Mbps plans. Depending on availability, you may qualify for a data cap upgrade to 400 GB on Back to School plans. Buckeye Broadband customers who go over their data limit will be charged $15 per additional 50 GB of data. Or, you can pre-purchase an extra 150 GB of data for $15 or upgrade to unlimited data for $30/mo.*

CenturyLink data caps

Customers who exceed the 1 TB CenturyLink data cap are subject to CenturyLink’s Excessive Use Policy. If you exceed the data limits, CenturyLink may discontinue service after three months of excessive use without following their notices or guidance.

Cox data caps

All Cox internet plans come with 1 TB of data. Customers who exceed the Cox data cap will be charged $10 for each additional 50 GB block of data. Cox also gives the option to purchase an additional 500 GB each month for $30/mo. or add unlimited data for $50/mo.*

Frontier data caps

Frontier internet plans have no data caps or restrictions.

HughesNet data caps

HughesNet does things a little differently. All of their plans are 25 Mbps download speed, but where they vary is the amount of data you get each month. HughesNet data caps range from 10 GB for $59.99/mo.* to 50 GB for $149.99/mo.*There’s no hard data limits, though. Exceeding your plan will instead result in reduced speeds, typically 1-3 Mbps.

MCTV data caps

MCTV internet plans have no data caps or restrictions.

Mediacom data caps

Mediacom data caps vary widely based on the plan ranging anywhere from 150 to 400 GB for lower-level plans to well over 1 TB (1,000 GB) upwards of 6 TB for higher-tier plans. There’s no option to add unlimited data, but with 1 TB or more, you should be OK. Going over your Mediacom data cap will result in a charge of $10 per additional 50 GB of data.

  • 150 GB data cap for Launch plan
  • 250 GB data cap for Prime plan
  • 400 GB data cap for Internet 60 plan
  • 1,000 GB data cap for Internet 100 plan
  • 2,000 GB data cap for Internet 200 plan
  • 3,000 GB data cap for Ultra Plus 3T plan
  • 4,000 GB data cap for Internet 500 plan
  • 6,000 GB data cap for 1 Gig Internet plan

Optimum data caps

Optimum internet plans have no hard data limits; however, Optimum and their parent company, Altice, may impose limits for customers who violate their excessive use policy.

Shentel data caps

Shentel data limits vary based on your plan, ranging from 200 GB of data for the 3 Mbps plan to 1 TB of data for the 150 Mbps plan. Going over your Shentel data cap will result in a charge of $10 per additional 50 GB of data, or new customers can choose to add unlimited data for $30/mo.*

  • 200 GB data cap for 3 Mbps plan
  • 250 GB data cap for 5 Mbps plan
  • 300 GB data cap for 10 Mbps plan
  • 400 GB data cap for 25 Mbps plan
  • 500 GB data cap for 50 Mbps plan
  • 750 GB data cap for 101 Mbps plan
  • 1 TB data cap for 150 Mbps plan

Spectrum data caps

Spectrum internet plans have no data caps or restrictions.

Suddenlink data caps

Suddenlink data limits apply to their lower-tier plans. The Internet 100 plan comes with a 250 GB data cap while the Internet 400 and Internet 1 Gig plans have unlimited data. There’s no option to add unlimited data to a plan and exceeding your Suddenlink data cap will result in a charge of $15 per additional 50 GB of data.

Verizon Fios data caps

Verizon Fios internet plans have no data caps or restrictions.

Windstream data caps

Windstream internet plans have no data caps or restrictions.

Xfinity data caps

Most Xfinity internet plans come with a 1 TB data cap, while the Gigabit Pro plans come with unlimited data. Customers can add unlimited data for $50/mo.* otherwise if you exceed your Xfinity data cap you’ll be charged $10 per additional 50 GB of data.

To cap or not to cap

If you’re still not sure whether or not a data cap may affect your online activities, give our internet experts a call. We can help you find the right plan for you!

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Samantha Cossick

Written by:

Samantha Cossick

Contributor, Former Senior Content Strategist

Samantha is a key contributor to Allconnect covering broadband services. She graduated with a journalism degree from West Virginia University and spearheaded the growth of Allconnect’s Re… Read more