Monday, 6 February 2017

Blippy January

A few posts back I was talking about my Internet data usage, and how in January I was certain to exceed the 25GB in my BT Infinity 1 Broadband package. Towards the end of January I was getting into a pitiful state about using any data whatever, hoping to eke out the last few 'free' MBs remaining.

But in the end I shrugged my shoulders and reverted to using the Internet normally - rationing only catch-up TV. Streaming TV programmes was for me by far the most data-intensive thing I ever did. I made an effort to watch all my favourite stuff 'live', and not later on. I am now facing an extra £9.00 in data charges, probably payable in March.

I am confident that £9.00 will be a one-off. I visited the BT website to get some analyses of my Internet data usage over the last year or so:

As you can see, there is some seasonal variation, but only in January 2017 has my usage gone into the red 'over 25GB' section. It's down to 3.2GB for the first six days of February 2017 - implying something like 16GB for the whole of February - well within my 25GB limit, just as is normally the case.

BT could give me further detail on that January blip:

I don't know what the three different colours mean, but you can see that most of the time, sometimes for days on end, I make very light use of data.

The isolated spikes will mean that I watched catch-up TV on those nights - two and a half hour's worth, I think, on 4th February (the far right red spike). In early January I remember staying up quite late night after night, watching a similar amount of catch-up TV. Hence the forest of spikes around then (green and yellow).

However, I really don't remember watching almost 6GB worth on 11th January - that's the very tall yellow spike. 6GB would represent over eight hours of catch-up TV - an unprecedented amount of viewing on a single day - none of which I can recall doing now. I don't have the stamina for so much! So I'm thinking that on 11th January I must have downloaded a lot of other stuff from the Internet - though quite what I can't bring to mind. I usually download only utility bills and the odd MP3 track. Perhaps I explored the entire planet, slowly, on Google Earth.

At any rate, BT are wrong to accuse me of 'often' going over my 25GB limit, which they had been doing. I very nearly gave in to their nudging, and signed up for a new 'unlimited data' deal at extra monthly cost. But I'm glad now that I didn't. Especially as an email they've sent today warns of a £2.50 per month Broadband price hike from 2nd April.

Hmm. Broadband is getting expensive again! But it's where the real money is, for BT and everyone else. They all blitz you with their offers and introductory deals that gloss over the fact that after the intial low-cost 'hook-you-in' period, it all becomes distinctly high-cost.

Well, thank goodness I'm not sports-mad, nor a film addict.

Sequel (on 11th February 2017)
As a test, I looked up how much of my 25GB monthly data allowance I had left (rounded, 21GB after ten days), before I watched an hour-long episode of Death In Paradise on the BBC iPlayer. Afterwards I had (rounded) 19GB left, so that hour of catch-up TV had consumed about 2GB. That was rather more than I'd hitherto believed to be the average hit for an hour's catch-up TV (only 600MB or so). But it made much more sense of the usage BT had shown in their graphs above. Clearly each ordinary spike represented one hour of TV watched on iPlayer. And the tall yellow spike of 6GB now meant only three hours in one night - much more credible.

So, 25GB a month will let me see at most ten hour-long TV programmes, allowing 5GB for non-TV stuff such as looking things up on the Internet, updating spreadsheets on Dropbox, and so on. It doesn't sound a lot - hardly more than two programmes per week on catch-up  - but even so it's presently enough for my TV-watching habits.

A game changer would be upgrading to a big new 4K TV panel. I'm sure that I'd suddenly begin watching all kinds of programmes that I pay no attention to at the moment, such as ones dedicated to wildlife. I'd surely then have to embrace 'unlimited' Broadband and be prepared to pay for it. But not yet.


  1. Are you subjected to seemingly endless advertising that spout the amazing speeds and service of internet providers at an equally amazing introductory price? It is only in the fine print (generally of microscopic proportions) that the provider reveals the limited length of this service at that price. The post-introductory price is enough to make your socks melt. Is this just an American ploy or do you have to put up with this nonsense as well?

  2. from the graph it looks like they owe you a fortune for not using anything like your limit!

    So many offers spout data quantities in offers, especially for mobiles, how many have the slightest inkling of their data use?

    I had very painful time with your provider, I had may versions of what those two letters stood for and none of them were nice. No offer from them is ever considered but there are other providers out there and the current model seems to be that we should change often to not be robbed...

  3. Just a thought, how secure is your wi-fi? Could someone have picked it up and downloaded using it, there are lots of wi-fi finding devices out there and you only need a laptop in a car...

  4. Kati: it's just the same. Relentless offers, mostly nowadays wanting you to sign up to a comprehensive all-media broadband deal in which endless sport and films are meant to be the major draw. I suppose that for many people, that's their entire life.

    Coline: My BT Wi-Fi Hub 5 router is supposed to be secure, i.e. you need to know the password to use it from the road outside, but I'll check on that.



This blog is public, and I expect comments from many sources and points of view. They will be welcome if sincere, well-expressed and add something worthwhile to the post. If not, they face removal.

Ideally I want to hear from bloggers, who, like myself, are knowable as real people and can be contacted. Anyone whose identity is questionable or impossible to verify may have their comments removed. Commercially-inspired comments will certainly be deleted - I do not allow free advertising.

Whoever you are, if you wish to make a private comment, rather than a public one, then do consider emailing me - see my Blogger Profile for the address.

Lucy Melford