Figuring Out the 5 Gigabyte (5 GB) Cap

Time to handle the music.

These companies are here to make money. That's priority numero uno. Good customer service, good prices, and good plans only exist to turn a profit.

Companies used to provide unlimited plans until they weren't making as much (read: we downloaded too much). That led the industries to generate the popular structure of:

Basic Plans - 50 Megabytes (MB) or less
'Average' Plans - 5 Gigabytes (GB)AC
Unlimited Plans
Okay, most people get what unlimited means, but what the heck is 50 MB or 5 GB?
It's not like cellular phone companies where you could count minutes. We know what minutes are. We all read the time, continuously!

Tell someone you will be there in 5 minutes and they get that. Tell 'em you're exceeding your usage cap in the next 10 Megabytes and expect the "lost in space" look.

Today we will demystify all the jargon. I'll walk you through:

You skill with 50 MB of data
You skill with 5 GB of data
What you can't do with unlimited data
How to pick brilliantly pick a plan to avoid the fret of using too much bandwidth.
Basic Plans
They are well, pretty basic. If you're not careful, you'll blaze through the 50 MB faster than Michael Phelps in water at the Olympics. It's just not a lot. Does that mean not to get it? Definitely not.
An efficiency plan can work in the event that you only check email or browse the web. Large files become questionable. Definitely look out for windows update. Some updates could be 100 MB or more. Very last thing you need would be to get slapped with a gazillion dollar bill and all you did was restart your computer. Thanks Microsoft!
Downloading movies or music is merely out the question. The common album is approximately 80 MB while movies are 700 MB at best. Needless to say, this leads us to elusive questions like "What is this is of life?" and...
"Man, just what exactly can 50 MB get me?"

Nielsen-netratings.com says the common U.S. websurfer loads 1,500+ web pages per month. Popular webpages can be junked up with ads so each one makes up about 100-200KB of data downloaded.

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- CNN.com is 93kb while Google is a mere 6 kb -
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This means that normally, a typical user will download over 20MB of data just doing 'routine' web surfing. That however, doesn't include email you may download using desktop clients like Outlook.
The issue isn't so much the email here, but spam. If possible, stay away from using Outlook to download all of your email. Try a web-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo. That way, if you do get spam, it's in a folder you don't download (read: you pay for it).

Here's a table that summarizes what we've discussed so far:

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Activity/Download | File Size | # of that time period before you hit 50 MB
1 email | 10 KB | 5,000
1 webpage stop by at CNN | ~100 KB | 512
1 downloaded song from iTunes | 4 MB | 13
1 typical 3 minute video on YouTube/Google | 5 MB | 10
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So, just need email? Then you can get a basic plan. Or even, then maybe you need to consider:

5 Gigabyte Plans
I'll give it to you straight. A 5 GB plan covers most people's needs. It is not for power users. Now, how will you figure out if you're regular or perhaps a power user? Consider these questions:

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Questions | Average User | Power User
Use the internet more than 3 hrs/day? | No | Yes
Will an aircard be your main connection? | No | Yes
Can you download movies or music regularly? | No | Yes
Can you stream movies/music regularly? | No | Yes
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Answered yes to more than 1 of the questions? Then you're probably an electrical user and should check out an unlimited plan. Not sure? Take a look at:

What can 5 Gigabytes get me?

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Activity/Download | File Size | # of times before you hit 50 MB
1 email | 10 KB | 500,000 times
1 webpage stop by at CNN.com | 100 KB | 5,242 times
1 downloaded song from iTunes | 4 MB | 1,250 times
1 typical 3 minute video on YouTube/Google | 5 MB | 1,000 times
one hour of 56k audio stream | 25 MB | 200 hrs
1 typical 5 minute video on iTunes | 30 MB | 167 times
1 hour of video stream or 2-way video chat | 52 MB | 97 hrs
1 typical 45-minute TV show from iTunes | 200 MB | 25 times
1 Full-length (2 hours) movie download | 1.5 GB | 3 times
1 entire DVD disk image | 4.5 GB | 1 time
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Unlimited Plans

Just the fact that you're reading this part probably means you might need this plan.
Whether you're on the go from airport to airport, building webpages or downloading movies and music, you stay connected. You're a power user through and through.

Mobile Broadband providers may tremble at the reference to your name. Nothing else but unlimited will suffice. If that's you, there are just a handful of carriers that provide unlimited mobile broadband. See the end of the article for to purchase them.

While the plan could be unlimited, 'prohibited' uses can get you banned by your provider. website include:

Always on connections such as P2P, BitTorrent, server devices
Spam
Auto-responders that generate 'excessive' traffic
Any form of hacking
Think of it in this manner. They just don't want you to suck up all the internet for yourself like an industrial vacuum. Though it might be fun, it'd be selfish. Other than that, you should be fine.

So, to recap on which we covered:

Basic plans are great for browsing the web and checking email
Average (or 5 GB) plans work well for most people
Unlimited plans are for power users who make an online search 'intensively'
Don't use mobile broadband for 'questionable' activities (If you do, I 'didn't see no thin!')
Now guess what happens website can get you. Heck, you probably already know which one you'll get.
Hold up though.

What if website get it and it's not working out for you? Or, You've already first got it and you realized that it is not for you personally? It'd really bite to be stuck for 2 2 years paying for something you don't like.