Broadband usage: what kind of user am I?
Fees for broadband services are charged according to use, often with penalties (extra cost or restrictions on your broadband) for going over the prescribed amount. Usage is monitored as the flow of information (uploads and downloads) between your computer and the Internet. It is important to understand your usage patterns before you sign the contract so you can get the most appropriate deal for you.
You need to identify how much time you spend using broadband and what you use it for (downloads and type, research, emails).
Monitoring broadband usage
Usage refers to how many gigabytes (GB) you download per month. A gigabyte is a unit of information storage. There are several ways of monitoring usage. Providers advise that you use one of their systems for accuracy, rather than trying to keep track yourself. Telstra Broadband provides a broadband usage meter and also sends reminder emails when you are approaching your allowable limit.
Broadband user profiles
There are three basic broadband user profiles; light, medium and heavy. This is a basic guideline:
A light user uses from one GB of downloads per month to five GB. They use the computer from time to time, for emails, messaging, chatting, and other simple tasks.
A medium user is generally a household with several members or the average family. Packages for these users generally feature usage caps of eight GB to ten GB, sometimes more. These users occasionally download music or other more demanding information, but not often.
Heavy users need speed! They may be gamers, with requirements for online multiplayer sessions, or people who frequently download information, music and video, or use VoIP calling. Usage caps for a heavy user plan will be 20 GB to 40 GB, or may be "unlimited". In reality, "unlimited" plans are still subject to fair usage policies and will usually incur restrictions on access for users who are well over the average download limit.
Contact your provider if you are unsure about what plans they offer, but ensure that you estimate your user profile first, or you may find your usage restricted or extra charges on your next bill.
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