What is a Bandwidth Cap?

You may hear fellow internet users complaining about a bandwidth cap when they talk about their connection speeds and service providers. But what exactly is a bandwidth cap and how can it affect the way you use the internet?

A bandwidth cap- sometimes called a band cap by users- refers to a limit of service which imposed onto an internet connection by the service provider. When an internet service provider sets a bandwidth cap, they are essentially limiting the amount of data which users can download or upload via their connection.

On the whole, bandwidth caps are more often experienced by cable and satellite internet users, since both the core network and access network are shared with other users in the vicinity. A bandwidth cap is often imposed when multi-user internet channels such as cable and satellite become clogged and overloaded due either to activity by many users simultaneously, or by a few people using a lot of high-speed transitions such as constant streaming or downloading.

Internet service providers might also impose bandwidth caps on individual users who are seen to be using a lot of bandwidth through illegal downloading and heavy upstream traffic. This practice is known as lowered capping. It is possible for skilled users to attempt to uncap their internet connections, essentially granting themselves unlimited download access. However, it is common practice amongst internet service providers to permanently ban users who attempt to uncap their connection as this is seen as theft of service.

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