What is a Data Cap?

Most of us enjoy spending some amount of our free time on the internet, whether it’s watching our favorite shows, streaming music, playing online games, or shopping around.

But what if you could only spend just a few hours a day doing all of those things or else you would have to pay extra? Some Internet Service Providers will charge you a fee for just watching another couple of episodes on Netflix, shopping a bit more on Amazon, or talking to grandma and grandpa on Skype for a while longer.

It’s called a Data Cap. It’s a monthly limit on the amount of data that you can send or receive through the internet. If you go over the monthly usage allowance, you’re charged a fee, and some ISPs even cut you off!

To put things into perspective, we put together this helpful chart. As you'll see, just by downloading or streaming a few files, the data cap gets closer and closer. And during the summer, when everyone is home, data caps can be debilitating

File Type Approx. File Size
One Song (4 min) 4 Mb
Video Clip (5 min) 30 Mb
Audiobook (9 hours) 110 Mb
TV Show (45 min) 200 Mb
HD TV Show (45 min) 600 Mb
Movie (2 hours) 1.5 Gb
HD Movie (2 hours) 4.5 Gb


Source: Fastmetrics.com and apple.com


So what if you forget to close that YouTube playlist? How about if you leave Pandora or Spotify running? Some companies would bill you even more for using the services you already pay for. We don’t believe in that. Forcing the customer to make every download count just doesn't make sense to us. That's why at Socket, there are no data caps on any of our service plans!