Bandwidth is a term associated with the amount of data you use. People have had bandwidth to deal with for as long as the Internet has been cellular, cable, and DSL in format and with some companies even by telephone usage, but that was long ago. We have all likely seen the commercials or heard about someone going over their bandwidth. It’s gotten to be such a hot topic and such a major issue for some people that they have opted to pay more for plans that offer no bandwidth limits. Unfortunately, not all companies offer a no bandwidth limit, and the ones that do not act as if you have sinned the greatest known sin there is when you exceed your allotted bandwidth. But can we really afford to live in a bandwidth limited society any longer?
To determine if we need a “No limits” Bandwidth society, we need to first know exactly what uses bandwidth. It’s hard to say for everyone and to cover everything that may use bandwidth, but consider the following areas that use bandwidth: email, Internet surfing, Netflix, music streaming, music downloading, game downloads, gaming, movie downloads, computer backups, online security systems and cameras, Internet based thermostats, Internet based of VOIP telephones, weather station reporters, postage machines, scanners, printers, and on and on. You get the idea, and if you use the newest movie streaming services or watch movies in high definition on a service such as Apple TV or Netflix, then you will eat up tons of bandwidth in no time at all.
So, if you have limited bandwidth, what can you do? The first thing you can do is cut down all those high definition movies and games to regular definition. It will save you a lot. You can limit your use of YouTube – by default most of the YouTube apps automatically adjust to your Internet speed to give you the best video possible. Unfortunately, that best video also eats up your bandwidth. Some allows you to control the video quality and some do not, so YouTube can be a real burner when it comes to bandwidth.
It seems that no matter how much you cut your bandwidth, some people still go over. Take me for example. I’m with the fastest and in my opinion best Internet service in the Texarkana area, CableOne. Unfortunately, I do not always agree with CableOne’s ability to count their bandwidth when it comes to my usage. In 2015, I found that several days on the CableOne list indicated that I had zero usages. That means my thermostat did not even check the weather that day! It also means that me sitting here in my home using the Internet used none of my bandwidth. When I originally brought this up to a VP at CableOne, and he in turn to it to others for review, I was told that “we had stirred up a hornet’s nest.” Apparently, at that time there was some major issues in bandwidth counting.
Now, a little over a year later and after being assured that those “issues” had been resolved I found myself again exceeding bandwidth usage. It seemed odd to me that I was exceeding at just about the same time that CableOne came out with new plans, but maybe that is just a coincidence. I decided by the middle of the last billing cycle to make some changes. I changed the router’s password, cut off two extenders, and made sure that everything on my network was named – meaning I knew who was connected to my router. I also started again monitoring my data usage on my router.
While monitoring data usages on my router, I found some interesting things when comparing it to CableOne’s online counter (you can go to your account and see how much they say you have used). The first thing that I found was that on most days they were fairly close to what my router said I had used. I also found on several days that CableOne said I used more data than my router said I used.
I then made a review of the last year and found several dates with zero usage again. Naturally, I thought maybe CableOne was having a counting problem again. I contacted support and was told three different answers by two different representatives on different days:
- One told me that zero usage meant that CableOne was working on the Internet in our area and did not count those days against us – I naturally asked her to have them work more often in our area.
- I was next told that if there was any question about the data usages for a day, then CableOne simply put it as zero – in my opinion that simply meant that if they think they screwed up the counting, they gave us-the customers-the benefit of the doubt. They did not seem interested in the days I thought they screwed it up and it was apparent that it’s only if CableOne thinks they made a mistake that they give the zero.
- Finally, I was told that zero usage days could mean that I used no data for the day – a statistical impossibility given the number of devices connected to my system.
With no clear answers to my question, I turned my attention to watching the bandwidth for the remainder of the month. At the end of billing cycle, I was extremely close to using all my bandwidth still. I had some numbers, but I decided to do a couple of things during the last two days:
- On the 20th, I checked my usage and found that my router indicated I had used 17.659 GB of bandwidth for the day before (19th). CableOne’s online report stated I had used 24.4710 GB of the bandwidth. When I called CableOne, the representative told me that I had used 24.4711 GB of bandwidth – no, that is not a mistake – their representative had me using 0.0001 more bandwidth. While that is not a lot, the three differences were enough to raise a question on my part – apparently not on CableOne’s though.
- In addition, I checked my router for the 20th and found that I had already used 2.540 GB for the day (see screen shot also reflecting 17.659 from above). That screen shot was taken at 3:30 p.m. – because I was within 5 GB of going over, I had unplugged the cable modem at 8:00 a.m. that morning.
- Today, I checked my online usage and found that on the 20th, the day I turned my modem off at 8:00 am and reflected only 2.540 GB for the day at 3:30 p.m., that CableOne had a report of 8.8238 GB of usage for the entire day.
With the discrepancies above, I naturally called CableOne again – they love to hear from me by now I’m sure – and reached a nice lady named Charlene. She could not tell me at what time I used over 8 GB for the day, so I asked for Technical Support. I then was transferred to Byron who also could not tell me the exact time that I sued the over 8GB of data. When I talked to him about all my concerns, he did not seem to know what to say.
The end result is that despite turning off my modem to save the last few GB of data, I somehow used 502.8385 GB out of my 500.0000 GB allotment. Coincidentally, I’m sure, this will be my third notice of overage. I fully expect the letter and email from CableOne that “encourages” me to go up to the next level or to a higher GB data plan – an encouragement that will not really be an option in their eyes. I will admit that we use data, I will admit that most people do, but there does seem to be some major inconsistencies in CableOne’s counting that data. It is my understanding they have another company do their bandwidth counting. Maybe it’s time to simply forgo all this bandwidth counting, save that money going to another company, and offer an unlimited bandwidth program to customers. Sprint, Verizon and even AT&T can do it with cellular data, so why can’t CableOne?