Netflix.com And Broadband Usage Warning

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Like many people, I have recently decided to take up the netflix.com offer of a FREE month’s trial of their streaming service. If you are not aware of netflix.com, they allow you to watch a growing selection of films and TV series on your Television via your games console or on your computer by streaming them to you over the Internet.

The first thing I have to say about the service, is that whilst the films on offer aren’t the latest blockbusters, there is a large enough selection from a wide range of genres to keep most members of the household happy. In addition to the films are a growing number of TV series such a “Skins”, “The Inbetweeners”, “Heroes” or if you are a little older like me, “The Young Ones”.

I have set up the service on our Nintendo wii by downloading the Netflix channel in the wii shop. This was straightforward, just entered the log-in details and voila, ready to watch. At home we have an Internet speed of approximately 7mb, so the steaming is buffer free (no pausing waiting for the picture to catch up) and I have to say the picture and sound quality is excellent.

So far so good, the picture is excellent, there is a decent selection to watch and although I am still on the trial, the on-going price of £5.99 per month for unlimited viewing seems great value, BUT (yes there is always a BUT!) I have discovered a worrying problem with the service which could end up costing you a considerable amount extra per month.

Today, I logged into my account details on the website of my Internet service provider, something that I don’t do very often. A with all Internet service providers this control panel allows me to see various details about my account, including my broadband usage which is where things get a little interesting and worrying.

Below you can see a screen grab showing my broadband usage so far for April 2012. Plusnet bill from the 10th – 10th of every month, so that is why the screen grab starts at the 10th!

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As you can see from this screen grab, I have used over 30GB of my allowance this month, 90% of which can be directly accredited to streaming from netflix.com.

If you look at Wednesday 25th, you will see that I used 2.68GB of data. This day I was at home on my own and all I watched was the original “Transformers” Movie on netflix, although I didn’t watch the final 20 minutes! Although I also used the computer for other things, but only surfing and email checking.

On the week starting Tuesday 10th April, you can see that over 27GB of data was used, again mostly accredited to netflix (the youngest daughter watching “Skins” whilst we were away for a few days)

Looking at some days, for example Thursday 19th & Friday 20th you can see that our usage was less than 35mb for the day.

So why you may ask is this increase in usage so important ? I have an Internet package that allows me 60GB of data per month, so personally I am still well below my usage allowance per month, however if I do go over my 60Gb allowance then I am charged an extra £1 per 1GB of data I use, which could of added an extra £2 to watch just one film in it’s entirety.

Let me take an example of potential costs using a package from BT Broadband, one of the most popular providers in the UK.

BT Broadband offers a package that gives you Broadband and Anytime calls, a free BT Wireless Hub, free wi-fi hot-spot minutes and more for only £13.00 per month (Plus line rental). This is a superb price, but comes with one huge drawback, you are only allowed 10GB data allowance per month. BT send you a friendly “reminder” when your usage goes over 7GB, they then charge you £5.00 for an extra 5GB block, meaning in my scenario, I would be charged an extra £25.00 for the month. BT charges can be found here.

Talktalk, another popular provider offers two packages, an “essential” package and a “plus” package. The “essential” package allows a generous 40GB allowance per month. Talktalk handle going over your allowance differently to other providers. If you go over your allowance, they send you a letter or email. If this is a once off no problem, but if you go over again within a six month period, they send you another letter. If you go over the allowance again, then they add their “Mega Download Boost”, an extra £5per month. Talktalk charges can be found here.

In conclusion I have to say the following. I believe that the netflix.com service or other streaming services are excellent value, quality and certainly the way forward, BUT do watch your allowance data and make sure that you are not going to be paying additional costs per month to your Internet provider.

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