Which Internet Service Providers Have Data Caps?

Data caps are a monthly limit on the amount of data you can consume on your home internet. Using too much data leads to extra charges on your bill or drastically slowed internet speeds.

Many internet providers have data caps, but some don’t. Usually you can expect a monthly cap of 1 TB. Xfinity offers a little more data (1.2 TB per month), while providers like Google Fiber, Spectrum, and CenturyLink have no data caps at all.

See below for a list of major providers that have data caps—and those that offer unlimited data. You can also see the overage charges if you go over your data limit.

Want more data on your internet? Type in your zip code below to find providers with no data caps in your area.

Which internet service providers (ISPs) have data caps?

Internet providers WITHOUT data caps

ProviderType of serviceMonthly data cap
FiberUnlimited
Astound Broadband Cable, fiberUnlimited in most areas (speed may slow after 2 TB)
Frontier DSL, FiberUnlimited
FiberUnlimited
CenturyLink DSL, FiberUnlimited
Windstream DSL, FiberUnlimited
Spectrum CableUnlimited
Optimum Cable, fiberUnlimited
5GUnlimited
T-Mobile 5G, 4GUnlimited
EarthLink Fiber and DSLUnlimited
Starry Internet Fixed wirelessUnlimited

How do you get unlimited data?

You can usually get unlimited data (or an extremely high data cap of 1 TB or more) if you sign up for a gigabit internet plan, which gives you speeds around 1,000 Mbps. Most fiber internet providers also offer unlimited data on their plans.

If you’re looking for a new provider that gives unlimited data on the house, you can also look into new services like Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile’s Home Internet. Both of these emerging wireless services give you unlimited data along with a handful of other sign-up perks at no extra cost.

Internet providers WITH data caps

ProviderType of serviceMonthly data capOverage fees
AT&T Fiber, DSL, fixed wireless350 GB/mo. (fixed wireless), 1 TB/mo. (Internet up to 75 Mbps), unlimited (Internet 100 up to 5,000)$10/50 GB
Astound Broadband Cable, fiber300–1,000 GB in WA, OR, and CA only$6.50/1–25 GB
XfinityCable1.2 TB$10/50 GB
Cox CommunicationsCable1.25 TB$10/50 GB
Xtream Powered by MediacomCable200 GB–6 TB$10/50 GB
Buckeye BroadbandCable250 GB–Unlimited$10/50 GB.
HughesNetSatellite10 GB–50 GB (followed by internet slowdown)None
ViasatSatellite40 GB–150 GB (followed by internet slowdown)None

Some of the biggest internet providers have data caps on their plans. Data caps are most common with cable, DSL, and satellite internet providers—the latter of which have especially strict caps.

If you’re worried about running out, don’t worry too much. Many providers let you buy more data, and some offer an unlimited data option for an extra fee on top of your monthly bill.

Does satellite internet have data caps?

Satellite internet has very strict data caps. Since a satellite internet connection comes down from space, the provider has limited capacity to deliver fast speeds and plentiful data. That means you’ll have to be more budget-conscious about how much data you use.

Most satellite internet plans give you a small amount of high-speed data upfront. Once you use that up, your internet speeds will be reduced significantly—usually to around 1–3 Mbps. The one benefit to this approach is it means you won’t get charged extra for exceeding your cap.

How much data do you need for working or studying from home?

You need an average of 600 GB of data per month to avoid exceeding your data cap while using the internet to work and study from home. That’s a generous quantity and less than what most internet providers give you per month.

Each month, you’ll need enough data to attend Zoom meetings, work over Google Docs, collaborate with classmates or coworkers, and do everything else you usually do online.

Most internet providers will give you at least 1 TB a month of data, which is plenty for a relatively small household of one to four people. You should seek out a higher data allowance, though, if you live with a lot of people, have gigabit speeds, or spend a lot of time doing high-data activities.

Reasons for needing unlimited data (or more than 1 TB of data per month):

  • You live with five or more people
  • You regularly stream video in 4K
  • You have multiple people in your household that regularly attend Zoom meetings
  • You regularly host livestreams

You can find more information about managing your data budget farther down on this page.

Find the best internet providers in your area:

  • Data dap: 350 GB–Unlimited
  • Overage Fees: $10 per 50 GB

Does AT&T have data caps?

AT&T has no data caps for its fiber internet plans. You get unlimited data with any of AT&T fiber internet plans, which range in speeds from 100 Mbps to 5 Gbps.

AT&T plans below 100 Mbps come with a 1 TB data cap. You get charged for data overages after the third time you exceed your cap. After that, it costs $10 for every additional 50 GB of data you use.

AT&T’s fixed wireless internet plan—mostly used by rural internet customers in remote areas—comes with a 350 GB data cap. Again, it costs $10 for every 50 GB you go over.

  • Data cap: 300 GB–Unlimited
  • Overage Fees: $6.50 per 25 GB block per month

Does Astound Broadband have data caps?

Yes, Astound Broadband enforces data caps in its three “Powered by Wave” service areas: Washington, Oregon, and California. They apply to all available speeds up to 600 Mbps.

Astound charges $6.50 per 1–25 GB block per month when you go over. You can add the Unlimited Data Plan for $20 per month or double your plan’s data allowance for $10 per month.

Astound’s 940 Mbps fiber and cable internet plans in the Wave service areas include the Unlimited Data Plan at no extra cost. In all cases, speeds may slow after 2 TB of data usage each month.

Astound does not enforce data caps on its enTouch, Grande, and RCN networks.

  • Data dap: 1.2 TB
  • Overage fees: $10 per 50 GB

Does Xfinity have data caps?

Xfinity has a data cap of 1.2 TB per month, with an overage fee of $10.00 per each additional 50 GB. However, Xfinity will let a month of overages slide before it starts charging fees.

You can get the Unlimited Data option on any plan for an extra $30 per month. If you’re using more than 250 GB of extra data consistently, this option works out to be cheaper than paying the overages, so spending those 30 clams might be worth it.

  • No data caps

Does Frontier have data caps?

Nope, Frontier doesn’t have any data caps. Customers are free to download as many 40 GB video games they want without worrying about going over a limit—no strings attached.

  • No data caps

Does Google Fiber have data caps?

Google Fiber doesn’t have data caps. Yay! Feel free to use as much data as you like.

  • Data cap: None

Does Windstream have data caps?

Windstream doesn’t have any data caps or usage limits in place. This is a refreshing stance in an industry that usually has fine print and hidden clauses.

  • Data cap: None

Does Spectrum have data caps?

Spectrum does not enforce data caps, but that may change in the near future. Charter Communications’ agreement with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ends in May 2023, which prohibits Charter from enforcing data caps until then.3

  • Data cap: 1.25 TB
  • Overage fees: $10 per 50 GB

Does Cox have data caps?

Cox has a 1.25 TB data cap for all internet plans. 1.25 TB is fairly generous, although it’s still possible for heavy streamers to exceed this. If you do, you’ll pay the industry standard of $10 for each 50 GB of extra data you use.

You can get an extra 500 GB for $29.99 per month. Unlimited data costs an extra $49.99 per month.

  • Data cap: None

Does Optimum have data caps?

Optimum does not have data caps. It may crack down on data usage that it considers “excessive,” slowing your speed or suspending your account. For most users, though, it’s unlimited all the way.

  • Data cap: 200 GB–6 TB
  • Overage fees: $10 per 50 GB

Does Mediacom have data caps?

Yes, Mediacom has data caps. They vary widely from package to package but are generous once you get to the faster plans.

The cheapest package gives you just 200 GB per month, but you get a ton more data on faster plans. Mediacom’s gigabit plan gives you an eye-popping 6,000 GB (or 6 TB) per month, which basically amounts to unlimited data for most users.

While we at HighSpeedInternet.com prefer no caps, this is one we could live with. Mediacom charges $10 per 50 GB of data over the cap.

  • Data cap: None
  • Overage fees: None

Does Verizon 5G Home Internet have data caps?

No. Verizon 5G Home Internet gives you unlimited data each month. You won’t need to worry about overage charges and you can use all the data you like.

  • Data cap: None
  • Overage fees: None

Does T-Mobile Home Internet have data caps?

Nope. Like Verizon’s 5G Home Internet, T-Mobile’s LTE– and 5G–based residential internet package comes with unlimited data. So feel free to stream, download, or game to your heart’s content.

Does Starry Internet have data caps?

No, Starry Internet doesn’t do data caps. You get all the data you need to download big files, run smart home devices, play games online, and stream your favorite movies and shows in 4K.

  • Data cap: 10 GB–50 GB
  • No overage fees

Does HughesNet have data caps?

Yes, HughesNet has data caps. However, it works a bit differently than other providers. You won’t be charged an overage fee for exceeding your limit. Instead, the provider throttles your connection speed down to 1–3 Mbps. Whether this is better than paying a fee for more data at full speed is a matter of opinion, but 3 Mbps is pretty slow.

  • Data cap: 40 GB–150 GB
  • No overage fees

Does Viasat have data caps?

Viasat says it has unlimited data, but it still has limits on data usage. But you don’t get punished with overage charges like you would with a cable or DSL provider. Instead you’ll just have to deal with a really slow connection.

The amount of GB you get from Viasat depends on your plan. If you go over, Viasat will lay down the law by “deprioritizing” your traffic. That means when you click on a video or email, it will send a request to Viasat’s network. Viasat will then push you to the bottom of the list to make way for internet users who haven’t yet used up their allotted GB for the month.

It’s basically the satellite internet equivalent of the doorman at a fancy nightclub making you wait in line as he opens the velvet rope for dozens of well-dressed VIPs. Technically you’re getting “unlimited” internet, but in practice you’ll be the scrub standing outside in the rain.

Pro tip:

Read our internet data guide for tips on how to avoid data overage charges.

What is a data cap?

A data cap is the maximum amount of internet you’re allowed to use per month. It’s also commonly referred to by internet providers as “data usage,” “data limit,” “usage allowance,” or “fair use policy.”

Everything you do on the internet uses data. Whether you’re checking a couple emails or binge-watching The Crown in 4K, you’re using megabytes or even gigabytes of data. And all of that counts toward your monthly limit.

However, some providers don’t impose data caps. They may still have fair use policies in place to prevent you from abusing the service, but generally you’ll be free to use as much data as you like.

Type in your zip code below to see if there’s a provider that offers unlimited data in your area.

How do you find out your data cap?

You can find out your data cap by asking your internet service provider, looking on your internet provider’s website or consulting your internet’s user app or online dashboard. Most internet providers have a monthly cap of 1 TB, but Xfinity offers 1.2 TB per month. Some providers have unlimited data.

Everything you do on the internet uses data. Whether you’re checking a couple emails or binge-watching The Crown in 4K, you’re using megabytes or even gigabytes of data. And all of that counts toward your monthly limit.

However, some providers don’t impose data caps. They may still have fair use policies in place to prevent you from abusing the service, but generally you’ll be free to use as much data as you like.

Type in your zip code below to see if there’s a provider that offers unlimited data in your area.

Does net neutrality stop data caps?

Net neutrality currently doesn’t stop data caps, but it discourages internet providers from putting caps on certain online activities and not on others. For example, California passed a net neutrality law in 2018 that bars internet and wireless providers from putting zero caps on their properties—like AT&T’s HBO Max—while imposing caps on rival services in the same category.

The idea behind this legislation is to prevent internet providers from abusing their market power to promote their own brands while directly or indirectly punishing customers for using other similar internet platforms.

It doesn’t look like the federal government plans to do away with data caps entirely, but the Biden administration has proposed bringing back labels (modeled on the “Nutrition Facts” labels posted on food) that internet providers will make public to share details on their internet plans’ data caps and other features and fees.2

What happens if you go over your data limit?

Going over your monthly data limit can lead to costly overage charges—many providers tack on $10 for every 50 GB you go over per month. Even if you go just one gigabyte over your limit, you’ll still be paying for all 50 of those extra gigs you’ll have to buy.

On the other hand, satellite internet providers HughesNet and Viasat have a “soft cap.” Instead of charging you when you go over, they slow down your internet to a fraction of its usual speed. So you don’t get charged, but your internet connection might only work for the most basic tasks.

How much data do you need?

You need at least 600 GB of data per month to do all the activities you usually do online without worrying about overage charges or network slowdowns. That could include anything from firing off tweets to downloading video games to streaming movies and shows on Netflix.

Do you have caps on mobile data?

Yes, mobile phone providers have data caps. In fact, data caps on phone and mobile data plans are typically much stricter than what you get from a home internet plan. For example, if you can get 1 TB of data per month on the average home internet plan, a mobile data plan gives you just 50 GB of data per month or even less. Cellular carriers don’t have the same capacity to handle large numbers of internet customers and so mobile data comes at a higher cost.

How can you avoid going over your data cap?

To avoid going over your data cap, you’ll have to budget out your average data usage for the month, and then stick to your budget.

One way to do that is to use an online data calculator—like this one from the internet provider Armstrong—which gives you a quick readout of how much data it takes to do particular tasks.

Doing regular stuff like browsing the web and checking email won’t take up much data at all. Streaming music or playing games online also goes easy on your monthly allowance.

Here’s how much you’ll use on everyday online stuff:

  • Sending/receiving 25 emails: .01 GB
  • Streaming an album: .06 GB
  • Gaming online for 5 hours: .60 GB
  • Streaming a 2-hour movie: 1 GB in SD, 4 GB in HD, 16 GB in 4K

You’ll use up a lot more data by watching movies or TV on a streaming service like Netflix. Streaming in 4K uses up four times as much data as HD, so consider limiting your 4K viewing to special occasions. (A Hobbit trilogy movie marathon, perhaps?)

Downloading files is where you really gotta watch out. The richer and more high-tech the file, the more gigs you’ll use—that means you’ll spend a lot more data downloading prestige video games than you would a handful of MP3s.

This is about how much data it takes to download files:

  • An MP3: 5 MB
  • An HD movie: 4 GB
  • The most recent update of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare: 60 GB (Not the full game, mind you—just the update.)

If you have smart home devices around the house, that may end up taking the lion’s share of your data usage. Thankfully, as Viasat points out, you can cut corners by adjusting the resolution of your home security cameras and being choosy about how you use your smart home assistant.

This is the approximate data used each month by the following smart home devices:

  • A smart thermostat: 50 MB
  • A voice assistant: 22 GB
  • A motion-activated HD security camera: 150 GB

FAQ about internet data caps

What is my data cap?

Your data cap is the amount of data you can use on your home internet each month without incurring overage fees or speed slowdowns. Many internet providers impose a monthly data cap of 1 TB, while Xfinity has a cap of 1.2 TB per month. However, there are also internet providers that have no data caps and let you use unlimited data all month.

Which providers have data caps?

The following providers offer data caps of differing amounts along with overage fees of varying degrees. All of them (except for HughesNet and Viasat) also have packages with unlimited data or offer it at an additional monthly charge.

  • Xfinity
  • Cox
  • Mediacom
  • Sparklight
  • HughesNet
  • Viasat
  • AT&T
  • Astound Broadband (WA, OR, and CA only)

Which providers don’t have data caps?

The following providers currently have no data caps on any of their plans:

  • CenturyLink
  • Astound Broadband (in most areas)
  • EarthLink
  • Frontier
  • Windstream
  • Spectrum
  • Optimum
  • T-Mobile Home Internet
  • Verizon 5G Home Internet

What is bandwidth throttling?

Bandwidth throttling is the practice of lowering internet speed (often significantly) for certain users or certain types of traffic. This is typically done when an individual is using excessive amounts of data in a single monthly period. Due to customer backlash, it’s not a very common practice because it involves getting less service than you’re paying for.

Throttling is also sometimes used to manage network load during peak times. In these cases, providers may lower bandwidth of some (or all) users slightly to ensure that the network functions as expected for most customers. This is one reason why you may see a lower-than-advertised speed when using a speed test.

Sources

  1. Marguerite Reardon, CNET, “Net Neutrality Fight Is About to Come Roaring Back,” December 3, 2020. Accessed August 2, 2021.
  2. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, “Biden Urges FCC to Undo Pai’s Legacy—but It Can’t until He Picks a Third Democrat,” July 9, 2021. Accessed October 18, 2021.
  3. Federal Communications Commission, “Memorandum Opinion and Order,” May 10, 2016. Accessed August 4, 2022.

Author -

Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.