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. The speed result that comes from a speed test represents the bandwidth being used by that device. The speed of your internet plan represents the total available bandwidth to all devices in the home.

Speed & bandwidth

The higher your Internet speeds, the quicker things will download and the faster things will load. Internet speed is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps) — whereas data usage storage is usually measured in kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB).

The maximum bandwidth on your internet plan will be shared by all the devices connected to your home network. It is normal to experience slower speeds if you have many devices connected at once, or if one device is consistently uploading or downloading substantial amounts of data. This is more noticeable on slower speed packages.

Shaw Speed Test Example:



Download and upload speeds will depend on the Internet Plan you subscribe to and are generally measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Ping is important to online gaming and represents the responsiveness to your network, measuring in milliseconds how fast it takes to connect to the server you're reaching.

Learn more about Internet speeds at About: Internet Speeds.

Your experience can change drastically depending on the type of the device you're using. Many devices are not capable of reaching top speeds offered by your internet plan. For our fastest plan, Fibre+ Gig 1.5, you will need to measure the combined speed of two hardwired devices to ensure maximum bandwidth is being achieved.

Learn morePerforming a total bandwidth speed test


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, though all of Shaw’s Fibre+ 150 plans or above have unlimited monthly usage.

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 our Internet plans monthly limit at

Average home usage

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

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


Activity Examples Estimated Bandwidth
Online Video Gaming Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus 0.3 GB – 0.5 GB per hour, on average
Audio/Music Streaming  Spotify, Apple Music, Podcasts 0.3 GB – 0.5 GB per hour, on average
Standard Definition (SD) video streaming  YouTube, Twitch, Crunchy Roll 0.5 GB – 3 GB per hour
High Definition (HD) video streaming Crave, Netflix, Ignite TV (formerly known as BlueCurve TV) 3 GB – 7 GB per hour
4K Video or Ultra High Definition video streaming  Netflix, IPTV 10 GB 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  10-20 GB/hr  10-20 GB/hr  n/a  10-20 GB/hr
High (HD) 1080p  3-7 GB/hr  2-5 GB/hr  0.9-2.4 GB/hr  3-7 GB/hr
Medium 480p-720p  0.7 GB/hr  1-2 GB/hr n/a  2-3 GB/hr
Low 240p-360p  0.3 GB/hr  0.5-0.7 GB/hr  n/a  0.7 GB/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:
~3-7 GB
AAC+ 96Kbps
4-minute track ~2.88MB

1 hr

0.3 GB

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:
~20-50 GB
4-min track
~40 MB

Initial download

0.5-100 GB

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.

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 4K quality video, uses up to 7 GB per hour. If you were to watch 3 hours of Netflix every night in 4K, it will download at least 21 GB per night. If you did this every day for a month it would add up to at least 630 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 1.26 TB per month.

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

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.

How to monitor data usage

Making sure that your Internet plan meets the needs of your household is important. However, equally important is making sure to turn off devices that you aren’t using, which connect to your home network.

There are several ways in which you can monitor data usage depending on your modem type and Shaw services:

  • 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.
  • If you have a Ignite WiFi Gateway (formerly known as Fibre+ Gateway), use the Ignite HomeConnect App (formerly known as BlueCurve Home App) to monitor which devices use your connection and identify which devices consume a high amount of data. Find out more at How to personalize devices with Ignite HomeConnect.

For more information, read the article How To: View my Internet data usage. If you would like peace of mind to not monitor your data usage, our Fibre+ 150 and above plans come with unlimited monthly usage.

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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