Bandwidth, as it applies to an Internet connection, is generally defined as the speed of data transfer over an Internet connection. What that means is that bandwidth is essentially the measurement of the amount of data that can be passed through an Internet connection in a given time. This means that it can be considered a measurement of either speed or usage.
Learn more about bandwidth by understanding the following topics:
When we’re talking about your connection, speed is normally measured in either kilobits per second (Kbps) or megabits per second (Mbps). Whereas storage is usually measured in kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB). The higher your internet speeds, the quicker things will download and the faster things will load.
Shaw's Speed Test Tool
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|When we’re talking about usage, we’re referring to the amount of data that you can transfer through your Internet connection over the course of a month. As a residential Internet customer, your connection has a monthly traffic limit. We measure data usage in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). For example, if your internet plan includes 300 GB of data usage, that means that you can upload and download a combined total of 300 GB per month|
You can find out more about the monthly traffic limit of your Internet package at http://www.shaw.ca/internet/packages/.
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Examples of average home usage
Everyone uses the internet differently, here are some commonly used applications and how much data they use:
- Websites & Email – Facebook, Twitter, CNN, eBay - uses less than 0.1GB per hour on average
- Online Video Gaming – Call of Duty, Halo, World of Warcraft, Diablo - use approximately 0.3GB – 0.5GB per hour on average
- Audio/Music Streaming – Tidal, Spotify, Podcasts - use approximately 0.3GB – 0.5GB per hour on average
- Standard Definition Video Streaming – YouTube, Twitch, Crunchy Roll - use approximately 0.5GB – 3GB per hour
- High Definition Video Streaming – CraveTV, Netflix - use approximately 3GB – 7GB per hour
- 4K Video Streaming or Ultra High Definition Video streaming – Netflix, IPTV - use approximately 10GB or more per Hour
Other applications which can use your monthly data include Bit Torrent, streaming audio and video (e.g. YouTube and online radio), downloading music, video, and other types of files, online voice and video chat, and other such services. In fact, everything that you do on the Internet uses some of your monthly limit.
Data Usage Tables
Here is a comparison of rough estimates of how much popular video streaming services use.
|Ultra 4K or UHD||10-20GB/hr||10-20GB/hr||n/a||10-20GB/hr|
|High (HD) 1080p||3-7GB/hr||2-5GB/hr||0.9-2.4GB/hr||3-7GB/hr|
|Medium 480p-720p||0.7 GB/hr||1-2GB/hr||n/a||2-3GB/hr|
|Low 240p-360p||0.3 GB/hr||0.5-0.7GB/hr||n/a||0.7GB/hr|
|Options to change settings?||Yes||Yes||No||Device Dependent|
Here are some data usage stats for popular applications:
|Examples||Skype||Bit Torrent||Streaming Audio||Online Gaming|
|Example 1||Audio Only: 1.2 MB for 1 minute of calling|
HD Movie download:
4-minute track ~2.88MB
|Example 2||Video Calling: 3.75 MB per minute||Audio CD download: ~200 MB at AAC 320|
AAC 302 Kbps:
4 minute track ~9.6 MB
|10 hours = 3 GB|
|Example 3||HD Video Calling: 22.5 MB per minute||TV Season Download: ~20-50GB|
4 min track
|Initial download: 0.5-100GB|
|Upload||Uploads data use is equal to download data||Must be manually stopped after file downloads||n/a||Minimal|
Note: These number estimates are taken from third-party sources.
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Data use is broken down into two categories, download and upload data. Download data is any data that has come from the internet, through the home modem, and to your devices. There are lots of different applications that use this data, video streaming services are one of the most popular. Depending on your video quality settings, HD video streaming can also use lots of data quite quickly.
Let's use Netflix as an example to see how this could affect your usage. Netflix is a streaming video service, and so it uses your Internet connection based on the picture quality of the video you are watching.
- Video quality can be changed under playback settings for most streaming services to reduce data consumption. For Netflix, you can change the settings for each profile, under “Your Account” then “Playback Settings”.
- Check out the help page on Netflix for more information.
- HD video streams at an average rate of 3GB-7GB per hour
- (Best/High/720p - 1080p) (Blu-ray Quality)
- SD video streams at an average rate of 0.5GB – 1GB per hour
- (Better/Medium/480p) (DVD Quality)
- Low Definition streams at an average rate of 0.2GB – 0.5GB per hour
- (Good/Low/240p) (VHS Quality)
- Data use at these video qualities is similar for most streaming services.
- These numbers are per device. If you are streaming on multiple devices it will use this much data for each of them.
- Most streaming services set the quality to the highest available by default.
- YouTube allows you to change the settings for your account as well but it is worded differently
- More information can be found on YouTube's Help page
- If you do not have a YouTube account you can adjust video quality for each video. This is available by clicking on the gear in the bottom right corner of the video, then selecting the desired quality setting.
- These numbers are per device. If you are streaming on multiple devices it will use this much data on each device.
- If you are streaming on an Apple TV, the device will be set to always stream at the highest video quality.
- If you are using Video Streaming Services on a streaming box like an Apple TV, IPTV Box or Roku Box, you may need to manually close the streaming application or unplug them when not in use to stop the video streaming.
Here is an example of how quickly you can use your data up. If you were to watch 3 hours of Netflix every night at the HD quality, it will use at least 9 GB per night. If you did this every day for a month it would add up to at least 270 GB per month. If you had 2 TVs watching Netflix for 3 hours a night that would use twice as much data or close to 540 GB per month.
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The other way that data is monitored is in an upload. Upload data is data that comes from your devices through the modem and to the internet. Here are some common causes of large amounts of uploaded data:
- If downloading with Peer to Peer file sharing programs, such as Torrent Programs: µTorrent, Bit Torrent, UTorrent, Azure, etc. to download music, pictures, audiobooks, movies, etc., files will be shared with other users causing upload data. Removing or stopping torrents/files when the download has finished will prevent file “seeding” to other users which will reduce data usage. You can also adjust the setting in the file sharing program to limit the amount of upload that is allowed in a month.
- Upload can also come from video streaming to other people and sites (video blogs, Let’s Play, YouTube, Twitch TV, Skype, security systems, etc.) can all cause upload usage based on the quality being uploaded. See above for usage reference.
- Cloud-based file storage services. Online backups (Apple iCloud, Crashplan, Backblaze, etc.), file storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) often have settings to limit monthly upload or upload rate per second. Other options like pausing can also alleviate usage temporarily when you're close to your limit.
- Security systems that record to cloud-based file services will be constantly streaming data. This will result in a high upload, especially if you are accessing the recorded video remotely.
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How to monitor data usage
However you use your Internet connection, you can monitor the amount of data that you have uploaded and downloaded through My Shaw at Shaw.ca. The Last 6 months of data usage history is included in the internet tab of My Account as seen below.
If you require assistance with any of the above information, please reach out to our bandwidth management team at 1-844-595-7429. We’re able to assist with walking through basic setting changes of common video streaming services, and our technical support team can assist with updating passwords for Shaw equipment. For more information, try this link: View Your Internet Data Usage in My Shaw.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about bandwidth.
What most commonly uses large amounts of data?
- HD video streaming services; Netflix, CraveTV, Crunchyroll, YouTube, (You can change your video quality settings to reduce data use).
- Peer to Peer file sharing; UTorrent, Bit torrent, Azure.
- Large media file downloads.
Do video games use a lot of data?
Majority of online games use very little data. Most of the data is already on your device after initial install. Be aware the initial download of digital games can result in high data usage when using services such as Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
What devices in my home use data?
Media devices such as Roku, Apple TV, and any international streaming device will use data while streaming any video. Home security systems that record video and save them to cloud services
Should you have any questions about bandwidth or your Internet package, you can contact our Customer Care staff through online chat, email, or phone our bandwidth management team at 1-844-595-7429 for more information. You can also reach us on Twitter or Facebook.
Did You Know?
You can find additional troubleshooting tips and tricks with our Internet troubleshooting frequently asked questions.
Learn more: Shaw Internet Troubleshooting FAQs
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