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If You Don't Already Hate Your Internet Provider, You Probably Will Soon

Image source: AT&T.

AT&T implements data caps, too

Similarly, AT&T's fixed-line Internet services can come with varying levels of data caps. For DSL customers, Internet data is limited to 150 GB, while U-Verse customers receive 250 GB, and GigaPower fiber customers receive either 500 GB or 1 TB of data each month.

Just as with Comcast, AT&T's Internet customers can spend an additional $10 to receive 50 GB of data. According to AT&T's website , just 4% of its customers currently use more than 150 GB per month.

So why all the fuss if just 4% of AT&T Internet users and 8% of Comcast users go over their data limits? Because Internet users are constantly chewing through more data each year, and we're likely to catch up to those preset data ceilings very soon.

Always-on connections

Roughly 21% of Americans are "almost constantly" online, and an additional 42% go online several times a day, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. And not only is the amount of time we spend online increasing, but Americans are streaming more video, which quickly burns through data.

As The Consumerist noted earlier this year, streaming video already accounts for half of all primetime data traffic, and that's likely to go up. As more users look to video streaming for their at-home content needs, all of those data caps will be reached faster.

The rise of data caps

The problem for consumers is that these new data caps are all but inevitable in the coming years. With major players like Comcast and AT&T already implementing some sort of caps now, and with more data usage coming in the future, it's hard to imagine Internet providers walking away from the revenue these data cap overages will provide.

As more Internet providers see an opportunity to tap data usage as a new "business policy," as Comcast has, it appears we're all in for higher Internet bills or at least curbed usage to stay under our data caps.

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The article If You Don't Already Hate Your Internet Provider, You Probably Will Soon originally appeared on Fool.com.

Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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