Video streaming and audio streaming vs. data usage caps

Netflix internet streaming service for home theatre and media roomsMany of us use streaming video and music to media rooms, home theatres and music systems. A lot of people have chosen to cut tradition services like cable TV because streaming covers their needs at a lower cost. If you stream content, watch your usage and be careful to not burn through your home and mobile internet plan data caps. It depends on the application (e.g. Netflix or Spotify) and the devices (e.g. HDTV, smartphone or tablet), but here are some guidelines.

First you should be aware of what your home and mobile internet plans offers for data usage caps. You should check with your provider (e.g. Shaw and Telus for home), but we can look at examples for a common home limit: 250GB / month and mobile limit: 1 GB / month.

Applications like Netflix and Spotify have settings to adjust bandwidth use vs. the quality. The table below shows approximate hours you can expect for one stream (e.g. one of your TVs). You can calculate similar numbers for your data usage cap and multiple streams depending on your use.

data usage for home theatre, media room and home audio internet streaming In short, for home streaming, light users should be fine and heavy users should watch their usage during the month to avoid bill shock. For your mobile data, be very careful, as you can use up your allotment fairly quickly. Be especially careful when traveling, as roaming charges can be extremely nasty. Also watch out if your provider decides to lower limits or if they don’t increase them over time based on natural data use growth.  Look at your monthly bill periodically, and consider changing companies if you find a better deal.

Streaming internet content is great for choice, convenience and price. With a little effort, you can ensure you have the right internet plan to match your needs and avoid overage charges.