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Data allowance

Broadband without phone line limits on data and downloads



Choosing the right download limit
Exceeding your download limit



A download limit is the amount of data you can access on the Internet every month. It is sometimes also referred to as a data allowance.

The choices available vary between providers, and between the type of broadband without phone line you choose. Mobile broadband, for example, has far more restrictive download limits than cable broadband, which is unlimited.

Below we give an idea of the type of usage you can expect with the various download limits available. The advice in summary, however, is to purchase the option with as much data as your budget allows.

We make this recommendation because of one of the biggest trends on the Internet at the moment is watching television and films online. This covers everything from catching up on television via the BBC iPlayer, to watching films on services like Lovefilm, to allowing your children to watch episodes of Peppa Pig via Youtube on your iPad.

Another big trend on the Internet is online gaming, which is another type of usage that uses a lot of data.

Things like browsing websites, sending and receiving emails and using social networking sites are not heavy on data. Nor is downloading music heavy on data. If you are sure these sorts of things are all you will be using the Internet for any of the options featured and reviewed on Broadband Without Phone Line will be suitable, with the exception of the very low data options available from some of the mobile broadband providers.


Choosing the right download limit

Below is a guide detailing the different download limits that are available when choosing broadband without phone line.


An unlimited data limit offers great peace of mind, as there is no risk of being charged more for exceeding a limit. This is the ideal choice if you plan to watch films, television or play online games. Prices for unlimited packages are also coming down, so excellent deals are available. Unlimited data limits are available on all broadband without phone line options - cable broadband, satellite broadband and mobile broadband.

One thing to be aware of is fair usage policies. Unlimited data means you there is no limit on how much data you can access. However the broadband providers feel they have to have a caveat to this to protect themselves against those who use the Internet for dubious purposes, particularly heavy (and usually illegal) file sharers. They do this via fair usage policies, which in effect apply a data limit on unlimited packages. These limits are usually set very high so will not be reached by the vast majority of genuine Internet users, even those who use the Internet very regularly. If, however, fair usage policies are breached, the penalty is usually a limitation on your broadband, rather than an extra charge on your bill. This limitation typically involves slowing down your broadband speed.

12 GB to 16 GB

This option will be suitable for most active Internet users. If all you did on the internet was stream television or watch films, you could watch for about 1 hour 30 minutes per day with 12GB to 16GB of data per month. This would also be suitable for moderate online gamers. Things like using Facebook or downloading music on iTunes are all easily covered by this level of download limit.

8GB to 10GB

Data limits of 8GB to 10GB will give you 45 minutes of video streaming every day, a lot less than the options above. This level of data is suitable for occasional online gamers and for people who use the Internet daily for browsing purposes (viewing websites, using social media sites like Facebook, downloading music), but only occasionally for streaming television or films.


Keeping to the video streaming comparison above, 5GB of data access will allow you to view a maximum of 30 minutes of streaming video per day – if that was all you used the Internet for. This is not, therefore, suitable for online gamers or for people who plan to stream television or films online regularly. That said, 5GB limits (and below) are only available as an option on mobile broadband. This means you get the benefits of your broadband being mobile – you can bring your broadband with you wherever you go – and of being cost effective. The important thing to note is you can still stream video on mobile broadband while staying within your data limit.


Only mobile broadband providers offer 3GB options. This is not really suitable for streaming video or playing online games with any sort of regularity. What you will be able to do, however, is browse thousands of websites, download up to 40 albums, or send as many emails as you like. Choose 3GB if every day you use email, use Facebook and other social media, and surf the web.


Like the 3GB version above, 2GB options are only available from mobile broadband suppliers. You will be able to do two-thirds of what you can on 3GB packages. So, for example, you could download 26 albums on a 2GB package. While downloading music is unlikely to exceed your limit, anything more intensive (like streaming video) most certainly will. Therefore 2GB download limits are for light internet users.


We are now in the realm of very light usage. Only mobile broadband providers offer 1GB per month options. This level of data access will be suitable if all you plan to do on the Internet is moderate levels of surfing websites, sending and receiving emails, and using social networking sites. If you want to do anything above this (like use Facebook for several hours a day) you should consider a higher level of data allowance.

Less than 1 GB

Anything less than 1GB per month is for very low Internet users or for people looking for a second connection to give them access while away from their main broadband. If you select an option with less than 1GB of data it is unlikely you will be able to use the Internet daily.


Exceeding your download limit

Going over download limits can be costly. All providers apply extra charges once download limits are exceeded. They will usually email or notify when you are getting close to the limit so your Internet usage can be tempered until the end of the month.

Unlimited packages do not have download limits, but they do have fair usage policies. Generally if you are on a package with a fair usage policy you will not be charged if you exceed the level of the fair usage policy. Instead, the provider will restrict your broadband, usually by slowing it down.



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