How much mobile data do I need?

10 Sep 2019

When it comes to mobile contracts, the top criteria for most customers is data. After all, more is more, right? There’s a decent amount of confusion when it comes to data and companies can exploit it by offering and persuading customers to spend on ever increasing amounts, whether they use it or not. To find the best deal at the best price for you, it’s important to understand how data is measured, how much data is used on average, and why opting for the biggest data allowance might be a false economy. Wondering ‘How much data do I need?’ Hoppy has all the answers below.

Mobile data usage explained

Mobile phones use data to complete a lot of activities: sending and receiving emails, streaming music, and browsing social media, to name just a few. We know that all this uses ‘some’ data but attaching a real number to the activities is more difficult. The unknown in this instance translates to customers overpaying for data while not taking advantage of huge chunks of their allowances.

Citizens Advice reports that 71% of mobile customers with a SIM-only plan are overpaying for their data, totalling £800 million annually – a truly whopping amount. It was found that on average 2GB of data was wasted each month – equal to streaming 28 hours of music or 3 hours of video. Citizens Advice notes that while the polling looked at SIM-only customers, it’s likely that those on bundle contracts are affected too. Interestingly, customers who purchase their contracts in store waste an average of 4.2GB of data, while for online shoppers this reduces to 2.6GB, which suggests that pushy sales and the store environment can lead to consumers opting for higher data allowance contracts compared to their needs.

How much is 1GB of data? MB and GB explained

Let’s find out what MB and GB mean, breaking down the terminology and helping you understand data usage going forward. MB and GB are simply data measuring units and networks use these to tell you how much you get with a contract.

MB: this stands for megabyte, equivalent to 1000 kilobytes.

GB: this stands for gigabyte and 1000 megabytes makes up one GB.

1GB of data enables you to send and receive about 1000 emails or browse the web for about 20 hours each month while 1MB of data is needed for every 2 minutes of a YouTube video to play.

Now you have a little more context for contracts and SIM-only deals that offer varying amounts of data, often starting from as little as 500MB and going all the way up to a huge 30GB.

Check your data usage

A good place to start with figuring out your data requirements is by checking your current usage. To do this, log in to your account by accessing the network’s website or using the app on your phone. Find a previous bill and make a note of your usage for the past few months. You can even work out an average and use it to compare against your total data allowance. If you see that you’re left with unused data each month, then the contract you’re on might not be the right one for you.

To get a more detailed overviewed of where your data is going, use your phone’s data usage reporting. For iPhones this can be found by accessing Settings > Mobile Data and scrolling down to see which of your apps get used the most. Android users can tap into the Data Usage menu in Settings, where a detailed graph of usage can be found.

Use the information combined to work out a more accurate picture of how much data you need and find a suitable contract or SIM-only deal.

Tricks to save data

Lots of places offer free WI-FI and there’s no reason to not take advantage of that. Apps like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Spotify let you download shows and music over WI-FI, granted you’ve got enough storage space on your phone. You can then watch and listen to your downloaded content without eating into your data allowance.

Did you know that you can use Google Maps while offline? You can download whole cities and regions over WI-FI, accessing the information while your phone is on Airplane mode, without using data or incurring extra charges if you’re abroad.

You can look for data rollover deals that ensure that no data is lost or unused. Instead it’ll simply roll over to the next month. A few such deals are available on the market, so it’s worth looking out for them and the kinds of rollover features they offer.

How much data everyone needs will vary between individuals, but one thing is for sure, more is certainly not more with data when you’re overpaying and underusing. Get familiar with your current usage, comparing it to the amount of data you’re paying for. You might just find that a switch to a different deal will save you a pretty penny without compromising on usage.

Let Hoppy help you find the best deal today.

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