What does Fair Usage mean?

Wireless broadband connections are delivered as contended services, i.e. they are shared with other users on the same network. This is as true for BBnet services as much as any other broadband provider. It is one of the reasons, that at peak usage times speeds can be lower than at other times.  To ensure that bandwidth is shared as fairly and evenly as possible, we operate what is known as a Fair Usage Policy. It is what the title suggests, and is in place to ensure that one user is not essentially “hogging” the bandwidth. Bandwidth is the amount of data that can be carried from one point to another in a given time period (usually a second), essentially it defines the speed of your connection.

So what is a fair usage policy and how does it affect you?

      • While BBnet connections are essentially unlimited, exceeding what is considered fair usage may affect the speed of your connection.
      • For BBnet customers, if you exceed your daily fair usage amount over the course of the day, our systems will automatically reduce the speed of your connection until the end of the day. At midnight, this will reset and your speeds will return to normal levels
      • If you do exceed your fair usage amount, you can continue to use the internet, but the speed of your connection will be much lower.
      • All our current wireless packages have a daily fair usage amount, which we monitor from 08.00 am to 12.00 Midnight only. (You can view current packages here)
      • Fair usage amounts refer to total data uploaded and downloaded within the stated time frame.
      • Any traffic you have between midnight and 08.00 am is not subject to fair usage. This is an ideal time to download or upload very large files ( e.g. updates to games, consoles, video files or software packages)
      • Usage amounts are per day, and are not transferable from day to day or month to month. This is also the total amount for your entire connection being used by the home/office,  and not the amount per device.
      • We do not charge extra for exceeding the fair usage policy. The worst that will happen is that your speed will be impacted for the remainder of the day.

 

Not sure why you are exceeding your fair usage amounts?

Everything you do online uses data. Everything. Some online activities use more than others, and some, use a lot more than others. Any website you visit will use your download allowance. That is essentially how you receive the information. The more information on the webpage, the more you will use. Similarly, receiving emails, listening to radio or music streams, or any video you watch will all use your download.
Sending information to the internet ( i.e. sending emails, uploading photos, backing up data to cloud services such as icloud or Dropbox, or uploading to social networks such as Snapchat, Twitter, Soundcloud, Instagram etc) will all use your upload.
You are sending and receiving data every time you use the internet, but the question we are asked all the time is…

How much does it use?

A simple search on Google will use very little, for example.  Social networks like Facebook tend to be quite low, but large amounts of images or videos in your feed can use more. Similarly webpages which are very image heavy, particularly large or very high resolution images, will use more data. Websites like Done Deal for example are very image heavy so can use more data. It really does vary from site to site, and from application to application.
A few examples of applications that will use a lot of data are listed below :

          • Video : Watching video online can be very heavy on data. On demand services such as Netflix, Apple TV, RTE Player, Sky on Demand or Youtube tend to use a lot of download. While you don’t get to keep the video, to watch it you are downloading it.  The amount of data you use to view the video also depends largely on the quality of the video and the application you are using. Netflix in High Definition, for example will use about 3Gb per hour of viewing.  In Standard Definition it will use about 0.7Gb per hour. If you have a Netflix package that allows more than one device, it will automatically try to stream in HD, or at the highest definition it can. This can be altered by changing your Netflix account settings. It varies from site to site, but video streaming can use a lot of data, however many of the sites allow you to change the quality of the video you use. (More information on video streaming is available here)
          • Gaming Online :  Increasingly popular in recent years, many people use their internet connection for online gaming on their Xbox, Playstation or on their PC.  Many games do not use that much data and, for many ‘gamers’, the latency of your connection ( i.e the delay in information being received /transmitted ) is far more important.  However, more and more games or updates to those games are released as online downloads. Some of these files are very large, sometimes hitting between 20 and 30Gb for one game alone. Depending on the connection you have this can take a long time to download, and will impact your fair usage amounts. ( tip :  run these type of downloads overnight to minimize the impact on your data usage)
          • File Sharing : File sharing of data is very popular with internet users, however it can be risky… File sharing data you own is perfectly acceptable, however file sharing copyrighted material is illegal. This includes downloading or sharing movies, music, software or other copyrighted material. This is quite often done using torrent programs. Some of these files are very large,  particularly videos, games, software or music. Sometimes users of these applications are sharing copyrighted material without even knowing it. This will also use your upload to share the data. As stated sharing of copyrighted material is illegal, and it may result in suspension of your internet service or legal actions if you persist. Torrent sites are also notorious for picking up viruses or malicious software.
          • Software Downloads or Updates : Software downloads can be very large. Again it depends solely on the software package itself, but most reputable companies will tell you the file size before you begin. Recent updates for something like Windows 10, were around 3Gb per download. You also may need to download to more than 1 device.
          • The Cloud : A buzzword over the last few years, using the cloud is essentially storing information on a remote server or location online. Services such as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive are all cloud services. Many devices such as phones, tablets or PC’s are set to backup to these services automatically, at regular intervals, and quite often they are set to do it without you even being aware of it.  If you use these programs or have them on your devices then check the settings. If you have 1Gb of photos on your phone, that backup to a cloud service, this will use 1Gb of data to perform the backup. It can also impact the speed of your internet connection, while it is busy sending this information to the cloud service. It is very easy for this to happen without you being 100% aware of it. These services can be very useful, if managed correctly so ensure they are setup correctly.
          • Viruses or Malicious Software : Every user of the internet should have an antivirus program on their device. Viruses come in many shapes and forms, but none of them are helpful! They can easily hijack your device to send and receive data without you even knowing. they can damage your device, cause it to be very slow or perform poorly among lots of other nasty effects. In short, you do not want viruses on your devices. Protect them using a reputable anti virus program and you should be fine. Information on some free anti virus software available at these links : Windows Defender, AVG Free and a good tool is MalwareBytes. ( Note : for some more serious viruses you may need help from a computer repair shop)

 

How do I know how much data I am using?

In early 2016, BBnet will have a customer portal available where you can login and see your daily usage, among other features. We have been testing this over the last while and are just tightening some nuts and bolts before we release it.
In the meanwhile, you can contact our customer support team on 061 512000 or at support@bbnet.ie and we can send you the information you need. If you are having problems with high data usage, speak to us and we will do our best to help you out.

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