Should Cord Cutters Be Worried About a Data Cap? We Answer Your Questions

Cord cutting is an amazing way to save a ton of time; however, to get access to most of the services you still need an Internet connection. For many with data caps that raises the question of how they can stream what they want without running into their data cap. Often our readers reach out asking if they can be a cord cutter if they have a data cap.

Today I wanted to take a look at how quickly you would use the most common data cap of about 1 TB a month. (Note we are rounding the 1TB data cap down to 1,000 for easy math and to have a buffer for any potential overages.)

Video On-Demand Data Usage

For an HD video, Netflix uses up to 3GB per hour of video. (That is not 3GB per show because most shows on Netflix are under 45 minutes long.) Using 3 GB an hour you could watch just over 333 hours of video on Netflix in HD. That works out to be just over 11 hours of HD video on Netflix every day in a 30-day month.

Live TV Streaming Data Usage

Sling TV, Hulu, and PlayStation Vue do not publicly list their data usage per hour but you can do the math from the quality usage. Using Sling TV as an example:

  • An hour on highest quality (4.7 Mbps) would consume 2.1 GB of data.
  • An hour on best quality (3.7 Mbps) would consume 1.66 GB of data.
  • An hour on high quality (2.8 Mbps) would consume 1.26 GB of data.
  • An hour on medium quality (1.2 Mbps) would consume 540 MB of data.
  • An hour on low quality (800 Kbps) would consume 360 MB of data.

We find most Sling TV subscribers use the best quality, so they consume about 1.66 GB of data every hour. That means you could watch just over 602 hours of Sling TV every month or about 20 hours of video every day in a 30-day month.

So should you be worried about your data cap?

The question of whether you should be worried about your data cap really depends on how many hours of video your house watches every month. For many 1 TB is more than enough, but others will need more. Though for most families a 1 TB data cap is something you can easily stay under. Our number 1 tip is to turn off auto play next. That often burns sometimes hundreds of GB of data a month when you are not accurate watching TV.

What to do if you need more?

First, check out our guide on how to stay under your data cap. Next, shop around for other Internet services providers in your area. For example, if you have AT&T with a 1TB data cap, look at They resell AT&T Internet with US customer support and no data cap.

Hopefully, this post has helped answer some questions about cord cutting and data caps.

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