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When choosing a internet deal the last thing you want is to hit a data limit. Limited packages in the US are actually pretty rare these days. But they do still crop up from time to time and tend to be a little cheaper.

Most likely, then, you'll end up with an unlimited internet deal. But not all unlimited internet is created equal. Concepts like traffic management, contention ratios and fair usage policies come into play in some cases and may affect your speeds and the amount of data you can download.

What is unlimited internet?

Unlimited internet is where there are no limits on the amount of data you can download each month. There may, however, be some rules that mean you won't get the best speeds all of the time, or that your connection may be stunted after you download a certain amount of data. Below is a list of the three types of internet limitation.

  • Limited internet – This where you have a monthly limit on the amount of data you use on your internet connection. You may be familiar with this if you have a smartphone with a data limit. Typically, your provider will warn you if you are reaching near your limit. If you do opt for a deal like this you'd better be pretty certain you're not going to hit that limit. Because if you do, and have to pay for more data, you will now likely be paying more than an unlimited deal would have cost you.
  • Unlimited internet – This is where there is no limit on the amount of data you can use each month. However, one or two providers have traffic management and/or fair usage policies that may limit your speed during peak hours, or curtail the amount of data you're allowed to download at the maximum speed your line is capable of, should you download in excess
  • Truly unlimited internet – Most unlimited internet deals are 'truly unlimited'. This means that no matter what you're doing with your internet, at what time of day, and how much, your provider will always endeavor to provide you with the speed you're paying for. Few internet providers use the term 'truly unlimited' anymore, as it's pretty much the norm. But if you see it, that's what it means

Do I need unlimited internet?

Normally, we'd answer this with a bit of 'if' and 'then' in our answer: If you're this sort of person with these sorts of needs, then you should or shouldn't get it. Here, though, the advice can be simplified. There really aren't any limited internet deals to speak of in the market right now, and though they may come back at some point – they do poke their heads in from time to time – chances are it'll be impossible for you to find a deal that isn't unlimited.

Should you get an unlimited internet deal then? Yes. You will probably have to. Just in case there are some limited deals floating about when you read this or when you go to look, though, let's take a quick look at who should consider unlimited internet a must.

  • Medium to large households – Frankly, if there's more than one of you, you probably need unlimited internet. You may even need it if you live solo, if you also happen to be someone who likes a lot of Netflix, gaming or other intensive online stuff
  • Gamers - If you or anyone in your household is a gamer, you're going to need unlimited internet. Especially if you download your games. Soon, game streaming will even be a thing with services like Google Stadia launching later in 2019/2020. They will stream games live over the internet the same way Netflix does. Games use an ever-increasing amount of data
  • Streamers of movies and TV – You might say 'I don't use the internet all that much, do I really need unlimited?' Then you might go and binge a box set on Netflix, Now TV, Amazon or wherever. Congratulations, you just used your entire month's allowance on your typical limited internet deal
  • Home businesses - When you rely on a business internet connection, the last thing you want is for it to come to a grinding halt because you've hit your limit. If you run a business from home that relies on internet connectivity, you will always need an unlimited deal
  • Everyone - This is the point, really. There are almost no cases where we would recommend a limited deal over an unlimited one

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