Downloads and Your Limits


Entertainment today is becoming more interactive and easier to get online.  It is possible to download and stream videos, TV programmes and movies from the internet.  Of course, when you do this you have to be careful that you do not exceed your download limit or breach the fair use policy of your provider.  When you have a package with AOL broadband you do not have to worry about the download limit because all of their packages come with unlimited data.  However, this is not something you find with all providers.  You also have to consider what AOL Broadband’s fair use policy is and how this could affect you.  There are certain tips that you should keep in mind which make downloading easier. 

Set Download Limits

A lot of broadband providers have set download limits on their broadband packages.  These are your data limits and you should try not to exceed them.  If you constantly exceed your limit there are a number of options available to your provider.  Some providers will automatically upgrade your to a more expensive package that has a higher download limit.  Another option that the provider may use is to suspend your account.  It is important that you know what the repercussions are should you ever constantly exceed your limit.  The lowest download limit you generally get with fixed line broadband is 10GB.  Most capped packages have a limit of around 30 to 40GB per month. 

AOL Broadband Fair Use Policy

If you are taking out an unlimited data package you have to find out whether the package is truly unlimited.  While the difference between unlimited and truly unlimited packages does not affect the average internet user, people completing large amounts of downloads will be affected.  Standard unlimited packages are subject to certain provider policies which include the fair use policy and traffic management.  Truly unlimited broadband packages are not subject to either of these policies.

Most consumers may wonder how these policies actually affect their downloading.  If you have a package with a fair use policy you are limited in the amount of downloading you can do.  The policy is generally in effect during certain times of the day known as peak times.  These peak times vary depending on the provider so you have to find out what times your provider classes as peak times.  If you exceed the fair use limit during these times there are a number of actions that your provider could take:

  • The first and most common action is to throttle the speed of your broadband.  The throttling of the speed can last beyond than the peak times.  There are certain providers that throttle the speeds for a set time period after you exceed the fair usage policy limit. 
  • If you constantly exceed the fair usage policy then you may be automatically upgraded to a package that is not subject to these policies.  These packages generally cost a lot more than the package you are currently on.
  • The most drastic step that your provider can take is to terminate your contract.  This bars you from getting onto the internet and generally comes with some form of warning beforehand. 

It is not only the fair use policy that you have to look for.  AOL broadband and other providers often have a traffic management plan.  Like the fair usage policy this is mainly in effect during peak times.  At these times there are a lot of users on the network and the provider cannot cope with the volume.  To ease the network pressure certain broadband packages are given traffic priority and other packages have their speeds slowed down.  Truly unlimited broadband package will be part of the priority packages and are not slowed down.  However, standard unlimited packages may be slowed down during these peak times. 

It is very important that you find out what the policies are.  Of course, this is often easier said than done because the wording of some policies is so technical that the average provider does not understand them.  If you are unable to understand the policies that affect the package you are looking at you should consider a different provider.  These policies can generally be found on the AOL broadband website or the website of the provider you are looking at.

When to Download

The best tip that heavy downloaders can look at is when they should be downloading.  While you may want to download content at any time of the day there are certain times when it is best and others when you should avoid downloading.  The middle of the day during peak times is when you should avoid downloading whenever possible.

If you have a truly unlimited broadband package you may think your priority status allows you to download during peak times.  While you are able to get faster speeds then the average user the speeds are still going to be slower than normal.  This is due to the number of people on using the broadband network.  Even with prioritised traffic you still have to share the network with average users and other prioritised packages like business packages.

The best time to download data is during the night.  Night time is when traffic management is at its most lax and there are not that many people on the network.  Late at night it is possible to get much higher download rates which speeds up the entire process.  If you have a capped package then you should look at night downloading because some providers offer free overnight downloads.  These free download times means that any data downloaded during a set period of time does not count toward your monthly download limit.  Of course, not all providers offer this and you need to check the small print of your contract for any terms and conditions which may apply.

If you are going to be downloading a lot of data then you have to think carefully about the broadband package you get.  Ideally, you should get a truly unlimited package which is free from any provider policy limitations.