If you’ve noticed a change in the speed of your connection or have received messages from your cellular provider that you need to pay for extra data, you’re not alone. For many consumers, data capping is something that happens to their bandwidth without them ever knowing it’s going on. It is the process by which cellular carriers attempt to throttle or reduce data dependent on how much Internet activity a user engages in on data each month.
In the long run, this process saves the networks a great deal of money, because then they don’t have to pay to increase infrastructure allowing for more users in an area to have faster speed. Note, though, that cellular providers are not the only companies guilty of this tactic! Other companies, such as your CableTV and home Internet provider, have been found to be unfortunately starting this in their practices as well.
How Does it Work?
Essentially, data capping is something that happens with every cell plan (and soon enough your Internet & CableTV plans). For instance, a particular cell phone service company has a plan right now that costs $40 and some change each month after all of the fees. This plan promises a user unlimited talk, text, and data.
However, it isn’t really unlimited, because the data is capped after 1GB of high-speed 4G LTE or 3G data. After this point, speeds are slowed down to a meager 2G, which is the equivalent download speed of a couple hundred kegabytes per second. In other words, if you were to try and watch a Youtube video on 2G data, it would be…well…nearly impossible!
So, the claim that the data is unlimited is really fraudulent, because it isn’t the same unlimited data at the same speeds. It is a certain amount of data at one speed and then unlimited data at terrible speeds. And most consumers don’t even realize that their speeds are being throttled, so they go along thinking that the network is simply having problems or the “Internet is slow” through the end of their billing cycle. Interesting, right?
In reality, they are being misled and, thus, cheated. And that plan is just one example! All of the Internet/Data providers/streaming services are guilty of employing these tactics. Some other providers continue to provide the same speeds for an unlimited period, but they will charge extra past a certain data limit. For example, you are charged $40/month for 1GB of high-speed data, talk and text, but then you are charged an extra $.10 for every 5 megabytes of data you use over 1GB.
What Can You Do About it?
If you have a plan that you are paying for that is listed as unlimited and you find that the network provider you have is reducing your speeds (check out Speedtest.net), then you can call them to complain or switch providers. If the long customer service wait times are too frustrating, you can let Billshark negotiate on your behalf for a higher data plan.