The much-anticipated second season of House of Cards arrived last Friday and if you binge-watched the entire season in one weekend, your cable provider may want a word with you.
Though many aren't aware, your ISP monitors data usage. Go over your cap and you may be throttled, billed extra, or have your account suspended. Comcast recently made a bid to merge with Time Warner Cable, and while the latter imposes no data caps on its customers, Comcast has in the past and continues to do so. It's still too early to predict whether or not Time Warner Cable customers will be slapped with data caps should the merger go through, but as more people turn to Netflix and Amazon as their main source of TV entertainment, it's a question we need to address now.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has shared his concerns over data limits, and although many ISPs try to reassure us that their caps don't affect the average Internet user, technology continues to evolve: our gaming consoles, Roku boxes, and Smart TVs are demanding access to more data with each new iteration. So it's only a matter of time before those caps do begin to affect us all.
4K Streaming: The Wave of the Future?
Despite some impressive deals, 4K HDTVs are still a novelty for most people, but that's not stopping manufacturers from flooding the market with the new technology. Netflix and Amazon have announced their support for 4K streaming, meanwhile a host of other companies like Lions Gate, Samsung, and Warner Bros. are also working to bring 4K into your living room. Soon enough prices will drop enough for more people begin experimenting with 4K HDTVs.
New compression codecs such as H.265 or HVEC (High Efficiency Video Coding) promise 4K streams without guzzling too much data, but as everyone consumes more content, users are bound to hit their data caps more often than not.
Unfortunately, there aren't many ISPs to choose from, and with Comcast and Time Warner taking up close to 30% of the market (should their merger pass), the threat of data caps has become all too real. But will the risk of being throttled or slapped with a surcharge by your ISP keep you from binge-watching your favorite shows in HD or 4K? Tell us about your streaming habits in the comments below.
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