DETERMINING 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 support, good prices, and good plans only exist to show a profit.

Companies used to offer unlimited plans until they weren't making just as much (read: we downloaded an excessive amount of). 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 on earth is 50 MB or 5 GB?
It's not like cellular phone companies where you can count minutes. We realize what minutes are. Most of us read the time, all the time!

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

Today we're going to demystify all the jargon. I'll walk you through:

What you can do with 50 MB of data
You skill with 5 GB of data
Everything you can't do with unlimited data
How to pick brilliantly pick a plan to steer clear of 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 could work in the event that you only check email or see the web. Large files become questionable. Definitely look out for windows update. Some updates can be 100 MB or more. Very last thing you need is 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 average album is approximately 80 MB while movies are 700 MB at best. Needless to say, this leads us to elusive questions like "What's the meaning of life?" and...
"Man, just what exactly can 50 MB get me?"

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

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- CNN.com is 93kb while Google is really 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 problem isn't so much the email here, but spam. When possible, stay away from using Outlook to download all your email. Try a web-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo. That way, should you choose get spam, it's in a folder you do not download (read: you shell out the dough).

Here is a table that summarizes what we've spoken about so far:

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Activity/Download | QUALITY | # 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 certainly get a basic plan. If not, then maybe you have to consider:

5 Gigabyte Plans
I'll give it to you straight. A 5 GB plan covers most people's needs. It isn't for power users. Now, how does one figure out if you are 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
Do you stream movies/music regularly? | No | Yes
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Answered yes to more than 1 of the questions? Then you're probably a power user and should check out an unlimited plan. Uncertain? Take a look at:

What can 5 Gigabytes get me?

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Activity/Download | File Size | # of that time period 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
one 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 scanning this part probably means you might need this plan.
Whether more info on the run from airport to airport, building webpages or downloading movies and music, you stay connected. You're an electrical user through and through.

Mobile Broadband providers may tremble at the mention of your name. Nothing else but unlimited will suffice. In the event that's you, there are just a handful of carriers that provide unlimited mobile broadband. Start to see the end of the article for where you can find them.

While the plan could be unlimited, 'prohibited' uses can get you banned by your provider. Those 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 one to suck up all of the internet for yourself as an industrial vacuum. Though it may be fun, it'd be selfish. Besides that, you should be fine.

So, to recap on what we covered:

Basic plans are great for browsing the net and checking email
Average (or 5 GB) plans work very well for most people
Unlimited plans are for power users who make an online search 'intensively'
Don't use mobile broadband for 'questionable' activities (Should you choose, I 'didn't see no thin!')
Now get more info know what each plan can get you. Heck, you probably know which one you'll get.
Hold up though.

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