Sooo... Which term is proper to describe what most ISPs are currently placing a cap on? E.g., my ISP - Comcast - tells me there is a bandwidth cap of 250 GB/month.
You have a monthly download, (they could also count upload data, some ISPs do), data quota of 250GB, after downloading that amount they will reduce your bandwidth from, to give an Australian example, ADSL2+ to 256kb/s or even 0kb/s. When your next monthly billing period starts they return you to the bandwidth transfer rate you've paid for.
In Australia ISPs rarely refer to it as a Bandwidth Cap; it's Monthly Data Allowance/Amount, Monthly Included Data, etc, to indicate a definite limit. After that you are either shaped, (bandwidth reduction), or billed per MB/GB.
There was much 'annoyance' at ISPs here advertising Unlimited
monthly downloads and then in small print saying you'd be subject to bandwidth shaping to 64kb/s or 128kb/s. Technically, you still have unlimited download capability it's just a lot slower.
IIRC, it was deemed false advertising saying Unlimited
when they clearly do limit you at some point. Consequently, Unlimited
now means Unlimited
.......but at a price.
They also advise that customers who download a lot of movies use a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Is that a true statement? And if so, is that because they use a lot of data transfer speed? Or because of the amount of data being downloaded?
The first statement is sufficiently ambiguous to be used in both the correct and incorrect context of bandwidth.
If there is someone downloading movies 24/7 and Comcast' load balancing is 'poor' then that person might well be using a lot of the available bandwidth at the expense of other users. In which case they should throttle his bandwidth at that point to allow a fairer apportionment of total available bandwidth.
They do it for Bittorrent protocol all the time here in Australia.
Technically, since you probably don't have a bandwidth of 250GB/s there's no way they can cap your usage. But you might as well beat your head against a brick wall than try and convince a robot at the end of the phone that their terminology is wrong.