This post is for the wireless division at Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. Specifically, those people in the wireless division who came up with the idea to limit online use to 5gb before charging “extra” for “excessive use”.

I don’t think they’ve used the internet in a long while.

The first thing I’ll start with is system updates. This isn’t an extravagance of any sort. You must update your system to keep your computer safe and secure from new problems and exploits that appear online. I’ll start off with a basic install of Snow Leopard on the Mac as an example.

The current updates for a fresh install of Snow Leopard with iWork and iLife installed are 1.04 GB. This is to update iMovie, iPhoto, Mac OS X, iTunes, iWork, Remote Desktop Client, Xcode and a HP printer. A secondary update of Java, Safari and AirPort Client after the initial upgrade is just 125.7 mb (which using convertunits is .12 gb). Even if we assume only one single system update like this per month, we’ve already blown 1.16 gb out of our 5 gb monthly limit.

Now let’s download some free media. Not much… just what’s available in the “free” section on itunes every week. At this time, there’s a free copy of the TV series “The Cleveland Show” and “Phineas and Ferb” and the free music is from The Bravery, Augusten Burroughs, Zeri, Joe and David Archuleta. The total for two TV shows and five music files is 236.4 mb. Assuming the selections are consistently this size per week, 236.4 mb times four weeks is 945.6 mb, which converts to another .92 gb per month.

.92 gb plus 1.16 gb makes our current total 2.08 gb used.

Now let’s talk about YouTube. You tube videos are fun to watch, and everyone has been on the site a few times a week. So let’s ballpark only three videos per day and we only visit YouTube 5 days out of the week. That’s a perfectly reasonable 15 videos per week. Assuming the videos are around five minutes a piece and are watched in HD, that’s a ballpark of 22.9 MB per video. 22.9 times 15 is 343.5 mb per week. 343.5 mb times four weeks is 1,374 mb, which converts to 1.34 gb.

1.34 gb added to 2.08 gb takes us to 3.42 gb used so far.  Only 1.58 gb remains.

Attachments in email is next up on the list. I’m talking about powerpoint files and slides that are 2 to 5 mb that you need to send to business partners or just friends you would like to see a presentation. Lets say you only send two attachments a day four days out of the week. And that each attachment is 5mb. 8 attachments per week times 5 MB a piece is 40 mb. 40 mb per week times four weeks is 160 mb, which converts to .16 gb.

Add .16 gb to 3.42 gb and we’re at 3.58 gb used.

And finally let’s look at movie previews. Looking at a movie preview in quicktime at 720p (midrange high def) is around 100 mb each. There were around 60 movie previews in November alone on the Apple Movie Preview site, but let’s say I only viewed 1/3 of them: 20 movie previews per month at 100 mb. Thats 2,000 mb which converts to 1.95gb.

1.95gb + 3.58gb = 5.53 gb

And that’s how you can go right through a 5 gb limit.

This isn’t taking into account any antivirus updates, downloading any torrents or posting any twitter, facebook or personal blog entries. This doesn’t take into account reading through and downloading images from any photo-intensive websites or uploading your own videos to YouTube. This doesn’t take into account watching full streaming videos from Netflix or playing online with your Xbox, Wii or PS3.

And this ballpark calculation doesn’t even touch on downloading music or movies that has been purchased from Amazon or iTunes or updating the other applications that are installed on the computer.

Using Email, YouTube, watching movie previews, updating your system software and getting free and legal music may sound like a lot of bandwidth to those companies that grew up in the punchcard era,  but people do a lot more than just send email and SMS texts nowadays.

It’s not constant 24 hour use that chews through 5gb of data. It’s just simple, modern use of the internet.

The problem is that the only way I see this outdated 5 gb cap changing is if one of the big wireless companies realizes there is a big market if they move their baseline upward, and takes a bold move to expand their 5 gb cap to at least 10 gb or more.

Barring that, it’s going to take a company with some very serious capital to push the existing wireless companies aside to start a new high-cap wireless service. That’s pretty much going to have to be Telmex or Google at this point.

In the meantime, the only other option is to hunt down a free wi-fi spot and pull up a chair.

Oh, and before I forget, here’s the current list of updates required for a clean Windows 7 install with Office 2007 also installed. I’m in the process of calculating exactly how big the total download update is, but I’m pretty sure it’s a little less than the 1.04 GB of mac updates but much more than 500 mb.

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Definition Update for Microsoft Security Essentials – KB972696 (Definition 1.71.735.0)
The 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2)
Update for Microsoft Search Enhancement Pack
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB969679)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB969682)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB969613)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Visio Viewer 2007 (KB973709)
Security Update for Microsoft PowerPoint 2007 (KB957789)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB972581)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB969559)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB974234)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 (KB969604)
Update for Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 Help (KB963670)
Windows Live Essentials
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB954326)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 (KB956358)
Microsoft Silverlight (KB974331)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB951944)
Update for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 Help (KB963669)
Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System Help for Common Features (KB963673)
Spanish Language Pack – Windows 7 (KB972813)
Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 Help (KB963665)
Security Update for Microsoft Office 2007 (KB951550)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB959997)
Security Update for Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 (KB951338)
Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB967642)
Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Help (KB963678)
2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 1 (SP1)
Security Update for Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 (KB950130)
Security Update for 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB960003)
Office Live add-in 1.4
Update for Microsoft Script Editor Help (KB963671)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB936514)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB956828)
Definition Update for Microsoft Security Essentials – KB972696 (Definition 1.69.725.0)
Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 (KB976749)
Update for Internet Explorer 8 Compatibility View List for Windows 7 (KB975364)
Security Update for Windows 7 (KB975467)
Update for Windows 7 (KB974332)
Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool – October 2009 (KB890830)
Security Update for Windows 7 (KB974571)
Definition Update for Windows Defender – KB915597 (Definition 1.69.725.0)
Update for Windows 7 (KB974431)
Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 (KB974455)
Security Update for ActiveX Killbits for Windows 7 (KB973525)
Security Update for Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 Service Pack 1 Redistributable Package (KB973923)
Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer 8 for Windows 7 (KB976325)
Update for Windows 7 (KB976098)
Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool – December 2009 (KB890830)
Office Genuine Advantage Notifications (KB949810)
Security Update for Microsoft Office Excel 2007 (KB973593)
Security Update for the 2007 Microsoft Office System (KB973704)
Update for Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 (KB976416)
Update for Microsoft Office Word 2007 (KB974561)