January 26, 2015 by phicks2012
Last month I blogged about the downside — if you aren’t independently wealthy or if you have any sort of a budget at all to adhere to — when it comes to live-streaming video to computers and mobile devices.
I discovered in late November, much to my shock, that I had a monthly 300GB data cap, and that if this were exceeded — which was extremely likely to happen for the first time EVER that month — I was going to be charged extra for the overages. Needless to say, I was neither happy nor amused.
I probably ought to have known, being a reasonably intelligent human being, that there was a limit of some kind to how much data a provider would allow to be used before they drew the virtual line in the sand. On the other hand, I’d been using the same provider for cable TV and Internet for ten years without ever, apparently, coming anywhere even remotely close to my cap — despite the fact that the internet had been used constantly and despite the fact that at various times over the years several household occupants had engaged rather liberally in on-line gaming, and despite the availability and periodic use of Netflix and Hulu. Nope. We’d been routinely using less than a quarter of the allowed data up to that point, until, suddenly, POOF! There was a problem.
Well, after the shock wore off, and after researching the issue, I discovered that the reason my household data usage had quadrupled was that computers and devices (via a system called ROKU) were being routinely used as alternatives to TV sets, streaming one show after another and thus using up the data at an unprecedented rate. Cable TV doesn’t affect data usage, but anything coming over the internet does, and live streaming is both internet related and data intensive.
I’m given to understand that in the past providers, even those who HAD data caps, didn’t necessarily enforce them, and that in any case with lower-definition videos there was less danger of exceeding them. However, with higher and higher definition, the game has changed.
So, after finding out that I was in imminent danger of exceeding my 300GB cap in November, and WHY, I put a moritorium on live-streaming under my roof, and managed to get to the end of November with 3GB to spare, which seemed to support my findings that the video streaming was almost entirely responsible for the vastly increased data drain. Voila!!!
But just to make sure, I kept track of the data usage for the following month (December) without the video streaming. In spite of the fact that I spent considerable time on the internet and indulged rather heavily in on-line gaming all month, December’s TOTAL data usage was a mere 17GB. Big difference, huh?
So I think it’s safe to rest my case. Cable TV does not affect data caps. Internet usage alone does little to affect them, and on-line gaming likewise has minimal effect.
If you aren’t streaming large amounts of video, using services like Netflix and Hulu and Skype to exess, doing a lot of video conferencing, or spending your life watching UTUBE, you can live a moderately full on-line life without running the risk of paying extra for data overages.
If, on the other hand, someone, even one person, in your household starts using a tablet daily in lieu of a TV set — well, according to GIZMODO at
“Streaming in 1080p on Netflix takes up 4.7GB/hour. So a regular one-hour episode of something debiting less than 5GB from your allotment is no big deal. However, with 4K, you’ve got quadruple the pixel count, so you’re burning through 18.8GB/hour. Even if you’re streaming with the new h.265 codec—which cuts the bit rate by about half, but still hasn’t found its way into many consumer products—you’re still looking at 7GB/hour.”
Based on those figures, at 4K you can burn through your entire data allowance in less than 48 hours, and even streaming in the more basic 1080p you can manage to deplete your data allotment in a mere 60 hours.
So the bottom line in The Castle is that until someone else in my household decides to pay for the extra data, we are all going to make mostly do with the mere 900+ channels available on cable, and with watching TV on actual TV sets. Occasional use of Netflix and Hulu will be fine, but regular use of one of the newer Media Streamers (Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, etc) to bypass the cable by streaming video directly from the internet to computers, pads, and other mobile devices is JUST NOT HAPPENING HERE! End of statement.
Good thing I have absolutely no interest in watching TV on a 5″ or even a 12″ screen when I can watch it on something considerably larger, huh? 😉