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Broadband data limit - How much is enough?

When it comes to picking an internet package, there are many options available regarding speeds and data limits. These can be very daunting to anyone who is new to broadband. By following this guide, we can point you in the right direction when it comes to selecting the right internet package for you.

Speed and allowances

When looking at packages, you need to consider the speed of your broadband and the size of your data limit. Your broadband speed will determine how fast you can download content, whereas your download allowance will determine how much data you can download. Depending on how you plan to use the internet, these two factors are key in ensuring that you don’t overpay or underpay for your broadband.

You can find out more details in our dedicated guide called What is a download allowance?

User types


If you plan to just use the internet for browsing websites and checking e-mails, a standard internet package should suffice. This is because such activities will only use a small amount of data, and a normal internet speed should allow you to access most websites without any type of delay. Broadband packages with allowances of 1Gb - 10Gb should be enough for light users. There are many competitive mobile broadband deals with lower data limits compared on Switcher.ie.


If you wish to take advantage of streaming services which allow you to view films and listen to music online, then an internet package with a higher or unlimited data limit should be considered. This is because streaming video content can use quite a lot of data.

A higher speed may also be required for these activities because if your internet is too slow when streaming films or TV shows, then you may experience something called ‘buffering’. This is where the data being streamed will be interrupted, causing the stream to ‘stutter’. Packages with around 10Gb to 50Gb data limits would suit medium users.


Finally, if you are a user who wants to play games online, download music and HD quality films, then a faster speed and an unlimited data allowance will be required. This is because all of these activities require speed and plenty of data. Beware that some unlimited broadband packages are subject to a Fair Usage Policy.

Many broadband providers supply packages with unlimited download limits. You can compare unlimited broadband packages on Switcher.ie.

Limited vs unlimited

If you are planning on using a lot of data, either through streaming or by downloading content, then you need to decide whether to opt for a limited or an unlimited broadband package. A limited connection usually means that you will be given a download allowance which means that if exceeded you will either be charged extra or your service will be reduced until your allowance begins again in the next billing period. An unlimited package means you will have no extra charges regardless of what you download, but will generally cost more per month.

You should be aware that the additional charges incurred for exceeding a data allowance on a limited package will generally be quite pricey, so if you think you will be borderline, an unlimited package could well work out cheaper.

Our guide to Broadband charges provides more details on the outcome of excessive usage.

In short, you should pick your package based on how you plan to use the internet. To take advantage of all the internet has to offer, an unlimited, high speed connection is a must. However, if your usage will be minimal at best, then it would be advisable to settle for a standard package.