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Bandwidth Policy

by Brian Stolz

Summary : So you know what bandwidth is and what bandwidth limits are, but are you confident enough to pay money to a website hosting provider or an Internet Service Provider? Read through this article and make sure you're not putting your money on the line!

Every Internet Provider or Website Hosting Company has a bandwidth policy. You should always read the fine print in their Terms of Service or Acceptable Use Policy on bandwidth before you signup for a service.

Many providers will claim "unlimited" or "unmetered" bandwidth. You should always be wary about these types of offers. Bandwidth has a fixed market price, and therefore it is impossible for a company to provide an unlimited amount of an item that has a fixed market price.

If you read their terms, what this usually evaluates to is "you can use as much bandwidth as you want as long as you do not put a strain on our systems". They are banking on the fact that you will use a very small amount of bandwidth, the moment you use enough to "put a strain on their systems", they pull the plug.

Many Internet Providers will claim "Unlimited Access", but this does not mean what you are thinking. They provide unlimited access, but they do not provide "unlimited bandwidth", they will allow you to always be connected, but they do limit the amount of data you can transfer. Be cautious, because many providers will charge you for bandwidth after you hit a certain limit, as per their terms of service, and then you are bound by law to pay for that usage.

Bandwidth may be monitored on a monthly, daily or even an hourly basis. What this means can vary from provider to provider. It may mean that your site will be disconnected if you reach your hourly limit, or that you will simply be charged for the overages.

Before you purchase any hosting account or Internet Service, the best thing to do is ask questions such as "what happens if I exceed my bandwidth?", "How do you monitor bandwidth usage?" and "how much do you charge for bandwidth overages?". Not knowing the answers to such questions is asking to be slapped with a large bandwidth overage bill.

You should always use a provider that is upfront with their bandwidth limits and fees, remember, if you think it is too good to be true, it usually is.

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