Online streaming is becoming more popular than ever. Dish has introduced Sling TV with live ESPN and other popular channels like AMC. HBO and Showtime offer streaming services without a cable or satellite provider. CBS is taking a 14 city trial of network streaming nationwide soon. Many cable channels are considering a pay-as-you-go system.
Now add in your social networking, YouTube watching, email checking, news commenting habits and there’s a lot of data being used. If you think your ISP is happy about this data use, then think again. Here are 5 things you need to check with your ISP service right now.
#1. Is your data really unlimited? There’s a good chance that you’ve got a residential cap on your data use. Comcast as a cap of 250 GB in many markets. 350 GB is pretty standard for other providers. Will the average home go over that cap? Not usually. Data consumers like myself, however, can blow that cap away. Our family uses 1.5 TB of data monthly. Yeah. Four kids, multiple mobile devices, smart appliances, streaming movies in HD – it adds up fast.
The solution? Talk to your ISP about removing the cap. I took the $50 challenge of having my ISP find ways to limit my data use to fit under the cap and after 5 minutes, I got a $50 credit on my next bill, a free business upgrade, and truly unlimited data use.
#2. Are you getting the speed you’ve been promised? Although data speeds for broadband are variable, it can get a bit ridiculous. If you’re paying for 100/20 and all you’re getting is 25/5 consistently, even at 2am, then you’re not getting the speed you were promised. Low usage times should get you extremely close to your subscription limits, if not slightly over them.
Your ISP isn’t going to tell you what speed you’re getting. The CSR on the other end of the phone call is just going to quote your subscription rates. The Ookla speed test is the most popular one, but don’t rely on just one test. Try a variety of them from different providers, average the results, and then give your ISP a call if they’re far from where you’re supposed to be.
#3. Do you have limits on the amount of connected devices? Think you can connect everything you own to your home’s internet connection whenever you want? Think again. One of the newer ways to limit data access and improve profitability at ISPs is to put a limit on the number of devices that are able to connect at once. My family found this out the hard way with our ISP, though to be fair, 7 connected devices at once is probably more than the average household has.
This one usually has a work around for it that only takes a phone call. Explain your situation, why you need extra devices, and you’ll get the cap lifted more often than not.
#4. Is there a slow down period? Make sure that you pay your bills on time because ISPs have started to sneak in some terms and conditions that kick in when your bill is overdue. That 100/20 speed might get taken down to regular DSL speeds if you are even 1 day late in paying your bill. You’ll be restored to your speeds once your account is current, but going DSL when trying to play on your PS4 can be tough to say the least.
Consider having an automatic withdrawal for your ISP account to avoid this. Make sure the money comes out on a specific date so you aren’t surprised by the dip in your checking account [plus this avoids having the amount deducted 3x in one month like an ISP did to me once upon a time]. You’ll avoid any slow downs as long as you’ve got money in the bank.
#5. Can your service be canceled without notice? This is the biggest change as of late that is catching a few folks off-guard. Normally cancellations happen for non-payment of services, but now they’re starting to happen based on previous credit checks, payment histories, excessive data usage, and perhaps because you like to wear green shirts all the time [not really]. Check your updated T&Cs to see if this little clause has been included. If it has, you might want to invest into a 5 minute conversation with a CSR.
The world is going to a place where data consumption is going to keep increasing. Now is the time to take proactive actions to make sure your data doesn’t get cut off. Check on these 5 things as soon as you can so that when it’s time to binge on House of Cards, you won’t be stuck with a long buffering session.