computers · internet

Understanding Broadband Download Allowance

download_allowanceMany components are involved in providing broadband services, such as duration of the contract, broadband speeds, price, and ancillary services bundled along with Internet access. Often the only factor that a new customer will think about is the speed of connectivity, or the monthly rate charged for a package. But a conscious analysis and comparison of all relevant issues will ensure that you are happy with the choice you finally make.

Why Download Allowance Matters

Most prospective buyers will visit a resource that compares broadband service packages offered by various providers, and then pick the one that offers the fastest speed at lowest price. However, this can end up becoming a huge mistake if you fail to consider the download allowance.

A download allowance is the maximum permitted allocation of bandwidth for an account over a certain period of time. Every time you load a website, or download a file, or transfer information over your broadband connection, you are consuming bandwidth. The data that you download is measured in megabits, and your download allowance is represented in terms of the cumulative total of the data that you transfer over a month.

The actual download allowance will vary by provider and by package. More expensive packages will let you download more data, while cheaper packages set strict restrictions on how much bandwidth you can use in a month. Software that tracks your file transfers will keep track of your downloads.

Problems With Download Allowances

Whenever you approach the limit set by your package, your connection will either automatically be throttled down or temporarily terminated, so that you cannot download much more data. Some ISPs will not slow down or stop your account, but will charge you for the additional data that you transfer, over and above your preset download allowance limits. Usually these charges are steep, and you may well end up paying twice or thrice your monthly rate for the over-usage alone.

Depending upon the level of your Internet usage, there are often packages tailored to your specific requirements. Modest users of email and regular Web browsing can manage with relatively small download allowances of 10 GB or less. If you frequently download music, movies, or online games, then you may exceed this limit and need a package with a higher download allowance.

As an indicative reference to help you estimate your potential bandwidth usage, a text email transfers 20 Kb of data, a webpage around 50 Kb, a song or three minute video clip about 3 Mb, and a full-length movie nearly 400 Mb. These figures are only approximate estimates, and you’ll have to actually monitor your broadband use over a period of time to come up with a more accurate assessment.

Unlimited Download Allowance

Many broadband service providers advertise “unlimited downloads”. But there are always limits, and using too much of the provider’s available bandwidth will subject you to a fair usage policy, by which your connection will be restricted in order that other users on the network are not disadvantaged by your activity. If your high volume data transfers continue, you may even receive a letter of warning from your ISP, or have your account locked for a while during busy periods of the network.

Download allowances are much smaller with mobile broadband connections. This is because mobile broadband is a relatively newer industry and high speeds are not yet widely available. No matter what type of broadband service you register for, be sure to carefully study the fine print and see what restrictions you have regarding your download allowance. This will help you find the best broadband service and plan for your needs.

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