Internet data usage explained

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Ever asked yourself, 'how much data am I using?' And do you know how much data you'll use streaming movies, TV or music? What about normal web browsing? Find out in our handy guide...

What does 'internet data usage' mean?

Everything you do on the internet uses a certain amount of data. While web browsing and checking your email consume small amounts of data, playing online video games and streaming catch-up TV uses up a lot more.

If you download or stream lots of video or live with several other people who all use the internet a lot, you definitely need a broadband package with unlimited usage.

How much internet data are you using?

This handy table shows how much data some standard online activities use. Bear in mind that the figures are only rough estimates. Your actual usage is likely be around the amount we've cited, but could be more or less depending on a number of factors.

Activity Data consumption
One hour web browsing 10 - 25MB
Download a document 2MB
One hour of Facebook 20MB
Download a music track 4MB
Stream 30 minutes of YouTube 175MB
Download a non-HD film 700MB-1GB
Download an HD film 4GB
Stream one hour of HD video 2GB
Stream one hour of music or radio 150MB

(Information taken from a number of providers, including BT, Virgin Media, and Vodafone)

'Unlimited broadband' packages explained

Unlimited data usage frees you from worrying about how much data you're using and from the fear that you'll run up extra charges for exceeding a usage limit. The good news is that pretty much all broadband deals now offer unlimited usage as standard, so you won't have pay extra to get it.

Not too long ago, unlimited broadband deals would still have been subject to a fair usage limit. This meant that although you could use as much data as you like, if you were a exceptionally heavy user your provider could slow down your internet connection.

However, these restrictions have since been lifted. Now, pretty much all unlimited broadband deals from the major providers will let you use as much as internet as you like and won't slow your speeds.

Packages that offer no usage restrictions at all are known as 'truly unlimited' and are available from TalkTalk, Sky, BT and more.

Which providers offer unlimited broadband?

BT (www.bt.com), Sky (www.sky.com), Virgin Media, (www.virginmedia.com), TalkTalk (www.talktalk.co.uk), and Plusnet (www.plus.net) offer broadband packages with unlimited downloads and no fair usage restrictions.

  • Superfast 2
    £100 Gift Card redeemable at Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis!
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 63Mbps
    • Pay As You Go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £23.00 per month
    18 month contract
  • Superfast Fibre
    £80 BT Gift Card + £40 M&S voucher - see BT's website for further details
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 50Mbps
    • £9.99 up-front costs
    • Pay as you go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £28.99 per month
    24 month contract
  • Superfast 1
    £100 Gift Card redeemable at Amazon.co.uk, Currys PC World, Marks and Spencer, John Lewis!
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 35Mbps
    • Pay As You Go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £23.00 per month
    18 month contract
  • Faster Fibre
    Online Exclusive: £75 Voucher redeemable at Amazon.co.uk, Argos, Tesco or Ticketmaster (New customers only)
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 38Mbps
    • Pay as you go calls
    • Offer ends
    • £21.95 per month
    18 month contract
  • Unlimited Fibre
    £70 cashback!
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 36Mbps
    • Pay as you go phone
    • Offer ends
    • £22.99 per month
    18 month contract
  • M50 Fibre Broadband + Phone
    Exclusive Offer: £75 Bill Credit
    • Online Exclusive
    • Average speed* 54Mbps
    • Weekend calls inc.
    • Offer ends
    • £26.00 per month
    12 month contract

*Average speeds are based on the download speeds of at least 50 % of customers at peak time(8pm to 10pm). Speed can be affected by a range of technical and environmental factors. The speed you receive where you live may be lower than that listed above. You can check the estimated speed to your property prior to purchasing.

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