More than one million customers across Europe are now connected to a vast, untapped market in which internet access is increasingly dependent on data caps.
In the EU, where the average monthly broadband bill is around €30, many of those who are being pushed to pay are people who do not have access to an unlimited data plan, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
The newspaper cited data from the Brussels-based company Telefonica and showed that more than 50 million people across Europe have access in their homes to internet service that can be used for more than 5GB per month.
Telefonica said the data cap was the biggest barrier to reaching the 5GB cap, but that the average subscriber’s broadband data usage was not affected by the cap.
A separate study from Telefónica found that the most common reason for data caps was to keep data flowing, but most of the customers in the study said the caps were necessary to manage the amount of data that was being used.
Telefortonica found a similar phenomenon in Spain, where data caps have been in place since last December.
The average monthly data cap in the country is currently set at 3.5GB, with data usage ranging from 4.4GB to 16.7GB.
However, the Telefortonicas data caps vary across the country, ranging from €10 for 1GB of data to €60 for 20GB of use.
In Ireland, where Telefortone was founded, the average data cap is set at 15GB, but data usage can vary wildly.
Teleforto said the average cap in Dublin was 14.5Gb, with users using 5.3GB of their monthly data allowance.
In Greece, where Telfortone is based, the data usage in the Greek capital is only 3.4Gb, but it can reach as high as 8Gb in places such as Athens, the newspaper said.
In France, which has a cap of 12GB, data usage is limited to 5GB in most of its suburbs, with the cap set at 8Gb.
In Spain, data caps are only applied in certain regions of the country.
In Madrid, which is the country’s capital, the cap is only applied to areas with an average population of over 500,000 people.
Telefax Communications in Austria has been collecting data on data usage for the past four months, and said that between January and August this year, the company had collected data on more than 4 million people.
However Telefortones data usage data does not include data that the company collects from ISPs and other companies, which could give an idea of the size of the market that is being addressed by the caps.
Telefinotenica, which runs the Telforto data collection site, said that over the past six months it had seen the number of data caps in use increase from around 300 million in 2014 to 1.2bn in 2016.
The company said that this figure is based on the number and type of data cap imposed by the ISP, not by the country in which it operates.
In Italy, the total number of internet users in the EU rose from 6.8 million to 6.9 million in 2016, but the average broadband data cap increased from 15GB to 21.2GB.
In Romania, the country where Telfto is based has a data cap of 15GB per subscriber, while in Romania’s eastern city of Bucharest, the most popular country of origin, the limit is 24GB per user.
Telfortonika said that Romania’s internet users have an average data use of 1.6GB per year, which would give a sense of the average usage for Romanian citizens.