Tech Talk: Fair Usage? How To Avoid Exhausting Your Home Fibre Data Cap
Telco Safaricom announced that as of 1st March 2021, they will be enforcing it’s “Fair usage Policy”. In the updated terms and conditions for the service, Safaricom will be limiting those on the Bronze package to just 500GB per month and subscribers on all the other plans (Silver, Gold and Diamond) to 1 terabyte of data per month.
Upon hitting the set Fair Usage Policy, users will be subjected to snail speeds of up to 3mbps and nothing more until the end of their subscription period (month). Those on the entry-level Bronze package will have to make do with a 1mbps connection once they hit the half-terabyte ceiling.
Safaricom claims this fair usage policy is to prevent customers from reselling their home internet to other users.
To avoid exhausting your home fibre data cap, you would first need you to know how much data you are using in a given month (*400*0# for Home Fibre), and how much data your devices are consuming. If you know all of that then you can choose to revise how you access content online so that you don’t blow your imposed caps before the 30-day period ends prior to subscription renewal.
How much data am I using in a month?
Open your phone app
Select 0 for My Usage
The next toast notification will show you how much data you use for a month, at average.
The information reveals how much data you are using as a whole (calculated as average from previous months). Your account is accessed by multiple devices too, including phones, computers and TVs or streaming boxes. Others game online so their consoles consume a good share of their cap.
How to Control Usage
On your PC
Finding out how much data you PC is consuming is straightforward.
For Windows 10 users, go to Settings > Network and Internet > Data Usage
The listed data connection tab shows aggregate data consumed by your PC for the whole month – per app. If the numbers are not good, you can always set a data limit.
Another option is to set your connection as metered because it stops automatic updates and backups.
On your Phone
For Android, go to Settings > Connections/network > data usage. There are options for mobile and Wi-Fi. Choose Wi-Fi. You may see a big surge that can be broken down per app. The chart also shows the period when the data was consumed, and you can adjust your usage patterns based on what you see. The same procedure should apply for iPhone users.
Some tips can go a long way here: you can watch out for data hungry social media apps like Facebook’s family of apps, ensure that your streaming apps are policed in a manner that sees them use less data, or deactivate app stores from updating apps automatically. You can also slam the door on all background data services.
On your Streaming boxes & TVs
Some streaming boxes mostly have a data usage setting. However, their services, including streaming apps, have features that can help you reduce data usage.
Netflix, for example, can consume up to 3 GB per hour streaming FHD video, or 7GB if you stream in UHD. It is even higher on Prime Video (Netflix adjusts consumption based on your network quality). Prime Video has quality settings, with ‘Best’ consuming up to 6.8 GB of data per hour.
Showmax has a similar setting. Minimum, low and medium use 100 MB, 300 MB and 700 MB per hour. Showmax’s content maxes out at 720p, so that is probably a plus.
You can also limit how much data YouTube uses by dialing back streaming resolution (the official YouTube app for Android TV does not have a way to do this, so you have to adjust resolution per video)
And generally, try to shut down your TV when you are not using it.
On your Consoles
Xbox users can go to Settings > Network Settings > Bandwidth usage to check their consumption over a given month. Sony’s PS systems do not have a direct way of checking consumption.
Consoles use a lot of data especially when a user is downloading a game. Also, the more games you have, the more data the devices will use especially when performing game updates.
You can fix excessive data use by using physical games (disks), and never patching older games.
Protecting your Wifi from unauthorized usage
The best way to stop someone from accessing the internet through your Wi-Fi is to prevent them from logging in through your router. This begins by setting a strong password (i.e. long, with no discernible words in it) and WPA2 encryption. You can also disable SSID Broadcast, which stops your router from announcing itself to anyone searching for a signal.