Does Streaming Increase Your Internet Bill?

Streaming content of some kind – either downloading content to your own devices or uploading your own content to platforms – has become a huge part of many internet user’s daily routine.

But it’s no secret that it uses a lot of data, and some people might be worried whether all this data they’re using to stream will increase their internet bill. Will streaming content (either uploading or downloading) add extra cost to your internet service?

Streaming will not increase your internet bill as long as you are on a flat-rate plan from your provider, with unlimited use. If your internet service has a data cap, then streaming consumes a lot of data and is likely to increase your bill if you do a lot of it.

In fairness though, most high speed broadband/fiber internet plans in major English speaking countries are unlimited use these days, so it shouldn’t be much of a problem anymore.

Let’s dig into the issue in more detail.

You Are Fine On Unlimited Internet Plans

Let’s start with the simpler and the more common scenario now. If your home internet plan has unlimited data, then streaming will not increase your bill. The monthly price you pay for an unlimited/flat rate internet plan is what you pay period, regardless of the amount of data you use for streaming or anything else.

You’re looking for one of the following terms in your internet service’s contract/ToS/marketing spiel:

  • Flat rate
  • Unlimited internet
  • Unlimited data/use
  • Unlimited downloads
  • Uncapped
  • No restrictions

If you’re not sure, contact your ISP’s customer support for assistance. But in most cases, if you’re on any kind of modern high speed broadband internet package in the USA/Canada/Australia/UK, it’s going to be unlimited use.

I know for instance here in the UK, all the major providers have unlimited use on their plans now, with the exception of some very old plans from BT. For some US providers, they did impose 1-1.2 Terabyte (TB) data cap, which would be very hard to breach even doing loads of streaming. Some Canadian ISPs also have data caps on certain plans.

But bottom line – on unlimited internet, there isn’t a problem. If you really, really, really abuse the service and are downloading terabytes of data every month (torrenting, file sharing etc), you might get a letter from your ISP. But for normal users, you can stream as much as you want on uncapped plans.

There May Be A Problem With A Capped Internet Plan

Despite the fact the most modern DSL/Broadband/Fiber internet plans now are uncapped, there are still some older/more basic services that do impose a monthly data limit.

You’re looking for something like this in your internet plan details/contract:

  • Capped Data/internet
  • Pay As You Go (PAYG)
  • Mobile internet (almost always has a data cap)
  • Limited data
  • Any kind of stated GB amount of monthly data (eg. 100 GB).

See this forum for example from several years ago where someone reports that their monthly internet bill sky-rocketed because they were doing a lot of streaming. They must have been on a limited internet plan and either not realized, or not realized how much data their streaming was using (more on this further below).

In these cases, you do have to be careful, and ideally just change to an unlimited internet plan to avoid this problem (uncapped plans are easy to find in most parts of most Western countries now).

How Much Data Does Streaming Use?

For users who are on capped internet plans, let’s give a broad idea of how much data different types of streaming uses, so you have an idea of how much of it you can do on your monthly quota.

For streaming video content to devices (downloading):

  • YouTube – Watching videos uses 480-660 MB/hour in 480p, 1.2-2.7 GB/hour in 720p, 2.5-4 GB/hour in full 1080 HD.
  • Netflix – Uses 300 MB/hour in 480p, 700 MB/hour in 720p, 3 GB/hour in 1080p, 7 GB/hour in 4K
  • Amazon Video –  Uses 1 GB/hour in SD, 2 GB/hour in full HD quality.
  • Disney Plus – Uses 600-700 MB/hour on SD, 1.2-2 GB/hour on HD, up to 7.7 GB on UHD/4K
  • Hulu – Uses 650 MB/hour for HD 720p streaming.
  • Average data – 600 MB/hour for SD streaming, 1.4 GB/hour for 720p HD streaming, 7 GB/hour for 4K streaming.
  • Average time – You’d get about 15 hours SD streaming per 10 GB data, 7 hours of 720p HD streaming per 10 GB data, 1.5 hours of 4K steaming per 10 GB of data.

For streaming your own broadcasts/livestreams (uploading):

  • YouTube livestreams – Data use varies widely according to bitrate and resolution. But an estimate would be 900 MB – 1.3 GB/hour.
  • Twitch livestreams – Uses around 400 MB per hour.
  • Facebook livestreams – Would use anything from 400 MB to 1 GB per hour based on video quality

In other words, streaming (especially downloading) does use a lot of data and it’s advised to move to a flat rate, unlimited internet service if you want to do a lot of it. All streaming services also have the option to reduce the video quality via the settings menu/cog to consume less data.

Finding Unlimited Internet Packages

If you’re wanting to do a lot of streaming, it’s often best to find an unlimited internet plan instead of constantly worrying about data use and calculating all the time.

Here are some links to help out with this:

  • Click here for a US Broadband provider ZIP code search tool
  • See here for a Canada internet provider search tool.
  • See here for a broadband finder tool for UK users.
  • See here for a broadband finder tool for Australia readers.

You can adjust the search filters on these tools to only bring up unlimited/uncapped internet plans if that’s what you need.


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