Can someone explain how data usage works?

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Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby solatv » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:55 pm

I am very new to all of this. This will be my third month with my roku. I received an email from Cox (my cable provider) stating that I had gone over my allowed data usage for last month.

How does data usage work?

For instance, when I start a movie in Netflix and it says retrieving, am I retrieving the whole movie? If I shut the movie off after two minutes will it have charged me data usage for the whole movie or just for the time that I actually watched it?

Thank you in advance.

Anne
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby atheling » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:10 pm

This probably varies by which channel you are using. But I think many, including Netflix, use HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) which basically packages video into 10 second pieces. I don't know how many 10 second pieces Netflix buffers before showing the movie but I am positive it is not the whole movie.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby mikebdoss » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:28 pm

atheling wrote:This probably varies by which channel you are using. But I think many, including Netflix, use HLS (HTTP Live Streaming) which basically packages video into 10 second pieces. I don't know how many 10 second pieces Netflix buffers before showing the movie but I am positive it is not the whole movie.


Indeed. You're likely not getting more than a couple minutes of the movie at a time.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby kc8pql » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:31 pm

...so the bottom line is, for all practical purposes, your ISP is only counting what you actually used.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby catastrophegirl » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:49 pm

you may want to check the netflix settings on your roku. if you prefer quantity over quality you can downgrade the quality of the stream to get more movies out of your data limit. i have no data limit so i've never had to do this, and can't give specific instructions, but it's a menu on the roku settings on the box
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby socantra » Wed Sep 07, 2011 5:34 pm

How about some more details here. What sort of Cox Cable Internet Plan do you have, ?

what is the download speed you are paying for?

What is your "allowed data usage"?

What sort of activities do you do that consume data ; (internet browsing, video streaming, bit torrent downloading, etc.)?

I had not heard of COX data caps, but since I am in an area where COX is one of only two high speed internet providers, I am very interested in more information.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby Mark12547 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:20 pm

solatv wrote:For instance, when I start a movie in Netflix and it says retrieving, am I retrieving the whole movie? If I shut the movie off after two minutes will it have charged me data usage for the whole movie or just for the time that I actually watched it?


On the original Roku, when you start playing a title, the Roku would fetch a few minutes of the film and will fetch the thumbnail file. Depending on the stream negotiated, it could hold 1 to 5 minutes of the film, probably around 2 to 3 minutes for a 4-dot stream (highest quality Standard Definition stream). The advantage of buffering ahead a little is that sub-minute Internet congestion generally will go unnoticed. (I had even rebooted my cable modem and router while watching a film and the Roku not have a hiccup, though I normally don't recommend this.) While playing, the Roku would generally play from its buffer and when there is room for another minute or so, it will again fetch more of the stream. My Roku, with a 4-dot stream, after the initial minute or so of fetching enough to fill up its buffer, will generally go about 40 seconds playing from what it has without touching the Internet, then spend the next 20 or so seconds getting more of the stream, then not touch the Internet for another 40 seconds, etc., until the end of the movie or I stop watching the stream.

I don't know how much the Roku 2 buffers ahead, but I suspect it is at least a minute and may be several minutes.

So if you watch two minutes of a movie and stopped watching, assuming 4 dot stream and 10Mbps download rate, on the original Roku you would likely have pulled down 4 to 5 minutes of the stream. I would expect similar on the Roku 2 (maybe a little more content), but, as I said, that is just a guess. If someone has a Roku 2 and doesn't mind interrupting the Internet connection while watching the movie, one could determine this (though it probably depends on several factors, including how much of the buffer had been depleted and not yet refilled when the connection was broken).

Warning: if the Internet connection is interrupted, Netflix doesn't know how much of the buffer you had watched, so your placemark on that title will be off.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby solatv » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:42 pm

socantra wrote:How about some more details here. What sort of Cox Cable Internet Plan do you have, ?

what is the download speed you are paying for?

What is your "allowed data usage"?

What sort of activities do you do that consume data ; (internet browsing, video streaming, bit torrent downloading, etc.)?

I had not heard of COX data caps, but since I am in an area where COX is one of only two high speed internet providers, I am very interested in more information.


I have had Cox for years and was not aware of data caps either. The issue never came up until I started using the roku. I do general internet browsing, download a couple podcasts from itunes each week, but no bit torrent downloading that I'm aware of (I don't know what that is).

As far as Cox goes I had always had the Essentials Internet which was 3MB downloading and $35.00 per month. They sent me an e-mail inforning me that Essentials has a 50GB data cap per month. I called Cox to see what this was about and spoke with a Cox representative who told me that I would get a warning each month I went over for 2 months and that on the 3rd month they would put a firewall to block my internet. I asked the representative what would happen next and he said that I would have to call to get my internet turned back on. I think to make arrangements to switch plans.

The 2 months since the roku I averaged 115GB.

He highly suggested that I upgrade to the Preferred Internet which is 18MB downloading and $48.00 per month and allows 200 GB per month of data. I cancelled the cable last month (my husband put up an antenna outside) so that gave me a bit of leverage to say this is too much trouble I'm thinking of cancelling everything with you & moving my phone & internet to Bellsouth. The representative was very kind and upgraded me to the Preferred Internet for 1 year at the same price I've been paying for the Essentials Internet.

Thanks to those who responded. There is quite a learning curve with all this stuff.

Anne
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby nnc3 » Thu Sep 08, 2011 5:34 am

Congratulations on getting the 200 GB data/18 Mbps download package upgrade at no extra charge. I think that should work very well for you. If you had stayed with the slower service, you would have eventually experienced poor streaming on the Roku.

Your router may have a traffic meter built in, so you can monitor your usage.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby socantra » Thu Sep 08, 2011 6:02 am

solatv wrote:
As far as Cox goes I had always had the Essentials Internet which was 3MB downloading and $35.00 per month. They sent me an e-mail inforning me that Essentials has a 50GB data cap per month. I called Cox to see what this was about and spoke with a Cox representative who told me that I would get a warning each month I went over for 2 months and that on the 3rd month they would put a firewall to block my internet. I asked the representative what would happen next and he said that I would have to call to get my internet turned back on. I think to make arrangements to switch plans.

The 2 months since the roku I averaged 115GB.

He highly suggested that I upgrade to the Preferred Internet which is 18MB downloading and $48.00 per month and allows 200 GB per month of data. I cancelled the cable last month (my husband put up an antenna outside) so that gave me a bit of leverage to say this is too much trouble I'm thinking of cancelling everything with you & moving my phone & internet to Bellsouth. The representative was very kind and upgraded me to the Preferred Internet for 1 year at the same price I've been paying for the Essentials Internet.

Thanks very much for the information. I had been considering COX, but I guess I will stick with my AT&T dsl, which is also 3Mb, but has a data cap of 150 GB. I normally use about half that, but other than a few day baseball games, we're only streaming video for a few hours in the evening and audio doesn't use near as much bandwidth.

Good lock with the Preferred at 18Mb. The 50 Gb cap is ridiculously low and the 200 Gb none to generous, but the 18Mb speed sounds nice. If your router can do metering, it would be good to set up, because at 18Mb, you'll be able to stream a lot more HD content (and use more bandwidth).

Great idea on the antenna. The amazing amount of stuff now coming over the air compared to what it used to be allowed us to say goodby to Dish Network last spring.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby ronfelder » Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:09 am

catastrophegirl wrote:you may want to check the netflix settings on your roku. if you prefer quantity over quality you can downgrade the quality of the stream to get more movies out of your data limit. i have no data limit so i've never had to do this, and can't give specific instructions, but it's a menu on the roku settings on the box


There is no setting to change quality for quantity on the Roku. You do this under your profile on Netflix.
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby catastrophegirl » Thu Sep 08, 2011 8:48 pm

ronfelder wrote:There is no setting to change quality for quantity on the Roku. You do this under your profile on Netflix.


good to know, thanks! i have seen the netflix settings option under the settings menu but never had a reason to explore it. i'd heard from other people that they were able to change their streaming quality settings in netflix and mistakenly thought it was in that menu
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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby DaBronx » Thu Sep 08, 2011 9:38 pm

Cox cable of Florida (probably similar elsewhere too) has an entire page of FAQ's on "data usage" @ http://ww2.cox.com/residential/centralflorida/support/internet/article.cox?articleId=%7B2fd6ccb0-b13a-11df-4be3-000000000000%7D and you can see how to access the usage meter in your account.

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Re: Can someone explain how data usage works?

Postby Mark12547 » Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:44 am

catastrophegirl wrote:I have seen the Netflix settings option under the settings menu but never had a reason to explore it. I'd heard from other people that they were able to change their streaming quality settings in Netflix and mistakenly thought it was in that menu


No, it was never in that menu.

The old "Roku 1" had a hidden screen that allows one to pick a bitstream rate (a.k.a., quality), which sometimes is useful if you know what you are doing and remember to undo it when done. However, on the Roku 2 the Netflix streams are adaptive streams, which ignore the bit rate settings in the hidden screen.

A few months ago Netflix implemented a quality setting on their web site for people who have ISPs that impose quotas. From the Netflix web site, click on "Your Account & Help" (top right corner of every page on Netflix.com), then "Manage video quality" (in the "WATCHING INSTANTLY ON YOUR TV OR COMPUTER" section, right column). As far as I am aware, changes made here will affect both the "Roku 1" and the Roku 2, but it may take some minutes to take effect because changes here have to be propagated to the servers that the Roku interact with. However, since it is specifically implemented by Netflix and is part of the netflix.com user interface, it is probably the best place to control video quality / data usage.
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