Broadband data caps explained

Find out what this welcome change means for your internet connectivity…

03 Apr 2020

What’s the news?

The UK’s main internet providers are removing data caps on broadband.


Why is this happening now?

Some unlimited broadband packages have ‘fair usage policies’ included in them. These policies mean that you get charged extra for data past a certain amount. This is supposed to reduce congestion and help everything run smoothly.

Since we’ve all been spending a lot more time at home though, we’re all far more reliant on the internet to work, to play and to generally keep us sane.

That means internet usage has gone up for most of us.

To give you an example, Virgin Media’s said that internet traffic’s doubled during the daytime. That’s the equivalent of every day being like a Sunday in terms of the overall amount of time we spend on the internet.

So the caps in these fair usage policies no longer make sense for the world we live in today.


What does that mean for me though?

The removal of data caps means we can all continue downloading and uploading the things we need, without worrying about extra charges when our broadband bill arrives.

Some other changes that are still being worked out are:

Offering generous new packages
This is so that everyone, including vulnerable people, can stay connected. That includes getting ‘data boosts’ that will let you buy extra data at lower prices. You might also be able to get free calls too.

Supporting people who are struggling to pay their broadband bills
If you’re in a position where it’s getting harder to afford the internet you need, you should get in touch with your internet provider to see how they can help – that’s from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Providing people with other ways to communicate if their broadband isn’t working
Getting problems with your broadband sorted can be quite tricky for some, because of self-isolating and social distancing guidelines. In those cases, people might be able to get mobile broadband dongles or mobile phones with SIM cards if it’s appropriate.


Which internet providers are involved?

Ofcom, the communications regulator has worked with a whole load of internet providers to work this out. That includes ones you can buy through us at Currys:

  • Virgin Media
  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Vodafone

What have people said about it?

The Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden, has said:

“It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers pulling together to do their bit for the national effort by helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time. […]

It is essential that people stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. This package helps people to stay connected whilst they stay home.”

Related in Wifi tips

How to give your home Wi-Fi network a boost

16 Aug 2021

How to get Wi-Fi in the garden

22 Apr 2021

How to use a VPN (virtual private network)

29 Mar 2021

How to protect your computer from viruses

25 Mar 2021

How to fix Wi-Fi connection problems

27 Jan 2021