Bandwidth is a measurement of the amount of data that can be passed through an Internet connection in a given time. It can be considered a measurement of either speed or usage.

 

Speed

The higher your Internet speeds, the quicker things will download and the faster things will load. Internet 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).


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Usage

Usage is the amount of data you transfer, up and down, through your Internet connection. As a residential Internet customer, your service has a monthly limit.

Data usage is measured in megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB). So, 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 your Internet plan's monthly limit at shaw.ca/internet/packages.

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Average home usage

Everyone uses the Internet differently. To manage your usage, it helps to understand how much bandwidth different activities use.

Websites & email use less than 0.1GB per hour, on average.


Activity Examples Estimated Bandwidth
Online Video Gaming Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus 0.3GB – 0.5GB per hour, on average
Audio/Music Streaming  Spotify, Apple Music, Podcasts 0.3GB – 0.5GB per hour, on average
Standard Definition (SD) video streaming  YouTube, Twitch, Crunchy Roll 0.5GB – 3GB per hour
High Definition (HD) video streaming Crave, Netflix, BlueCurve TV 3GB – 7GB per hour
4K Video or Ultra High Definition video streaming  Netflix, IPTV 10GB or more per hour

 

Other applications that contribute to your monthly data usage include Bit Torrent, music and app downloads, file transfers, and voice and video chat. In fact, everything that you do on the Internet uses some of your monthly limit.

Here's a comparison of how much bandwidth popular video streaming services use.


Quality Netflix Youtube CraveTV IPTV
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

 

These are 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:
~3-7GB
AAC+ 96Kbps
4-minute track ~2.88MB

1 hr

0.3GB

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
FLAC:
4 min track
~40 MB

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 numbers are estimates only, provided by third-party sources.

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Download data

Download data is any data that has come from the internet, through the home modem, and "down" to your devices.

For example, a video streaming service like Netflix, set to deliver HD quality video, uses 3GB-7GB per hour. If you were to watch 3 hours of Netflix every night in HD, it will download 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.

You could reduce your download data usage dramatically (to 0.5GB-1GB per hour) by changing your video setting to SD (standard definition).

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Upload data

Upload data is data that moves from your devices, through the modem, and "up" to the internet.

  • Video streaming from your home to the Internet (eg. livestreaming, video blogging, Let’s Play, YouTube, Twitch TV, Skype, home security systems) is another example of data uploading. HD video quality will use more data than SD video quality.
  • Cloud-based backups (eg. Apple iCloud) and file storage (eg. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) often have settings to limit your monthly uploads or the upload rate per second. You can pause backups or file syncing to control data uploads when you're approaching your monthly limit.

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How to monitor data usage

Using My Shaw, you can monitor the amount of data that you have downloaded and uploaded. The last 6 months of data usage history is included in the Internet section of My Shaw.

For more information, read the article How To: View my Internet data usage.

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Frequently asked questions

Which activities use the largest amounts of data?

HD video streaming services, peer-to-peer file sharing, and large media file downloads.

Do video games use a lot of data?

The majority of online games use very little data. Most of the data is already on your device after installing a game. The initial download of digital games can result in high data usage when using services like Steam, Sony Playstation, and Xbox Live.

What kind of devices in my home use data?

Streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV will use download data while streaming video. Home security system that records video and syncs to cloud services will use upload data.

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