What are data limits & fair usage policies?

Unlimited broadband plans are now the most popular deals, but they still have limitations. Here’s all you need to know about broadband data limits and fair usage policies.

What is a broadband data limit?

Broadband data is used every time you go online using a modem or router.

A broadband data limit is the maximum amount of information your provider will let you download from the internet in a set time period, usually a month.

What is a fair usage policy?

Fair usage policies limit excessive data use at peak times so there’s enough bandwidth for everyone online and broadband performance is not affected.

A fair usage policy can reduce your download speed at peak times, even if you have an unlimited plan.

Many broadband providers in Ireland have removed their usage policy in the last 12 months and now offer truly unlimited broadband, however, some still limit usage to 1,000GB per month.

How much broadband data do you need?

The amount of data you’ll need will depend on what you use the internet for and the number of people in your household who go online. Here are some of the most common online activities, and the data they use:

Activity Data used  
Browsing the internet 10-25MB/hr  
Reading/sending an email Approx 0.1MB  
Browsing Facebook Approx 20MB/hr  
Downloading an HD movie 4GB  
Watching Netflix 1GB/hr for SD, 3GB/hr for HD  
Watching NOW Approx 1GB/hr  
Listening to music on Spotify Approx 0.1GB/hr  
Watching YouTube Approx 0.25GB/hr  
Online gaming Approx 2GB/hr  

What happens if you exceed the data limit?

If you go over your plan’s data limit or fair usage limit, you will usually be charged per GB for doing so, which can work out to be quite costly.

If your provider doesn’t impose charges, it’s possible they could restrict your service once you go over the limit.

How to avoid excessive usage charges

If you live in a large household and use the internet for most activities, opt for a fully unlimited broadband package to give you peace of mind.

A truly unlimited plan means you’ll be charged the same amount each month and your speeds won’t change regardless of how much you use the internet.

How does unlimited broadband work?

An unlimited data package lets you download and stream as much data as you like, so watching TV & movies, online gaming or working from home is no longer curbed by your data limit.

Most broadband providers now offer unlimited broadband packages as standard but satellite broadband and mobile broadband packages tend to still have data limits.

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