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Mobile data: how to tell what you use and what you need

Mobile data: how to tell what you use and what you need

Whether you’re on a monthly contract or SIM only, you’ll usually be agreeing to a data allowance each month. If you go over that data limit you could be hit with extra charges.  

Understanding how much data you need is key...

Holly Niblett
From the Digital team
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 26 NOVEMBER 2019

What is data?

Data is the information you send or receive when you use the internet. Whenever you access the internet on your phone, you’re using your mobile data allowance. 

How is data measured?

Mobile data packages are usually sold in bundles of megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB). How much you need depends on your usage. One MB is 1,000 kilobytes (KB) and 1GB is made up of 1,000 MB.

How much data do different tasks use?

Whether you’re on Facebook, sending an email or downloading an app, it all adds up. But by how much?  

To give you an idea of how much everyday tasks eat into your data allowance, here are some examples: 

Online activity Data used
Single email with photo 500KB
Browse a web page 1MB
Download a song 5MB
Browse for an hour 25MB
Online gaming for an hour 50MB
Stream an hour of HD video 3GB
Download a HD movie 5GB

What type of mobile data user am I?

Users tend to be classed in one of three groups. 

  • Light users – this is for people who don’t spend much time online.  
  • Medium users – these users will go online slightly more, and play games and watch videos occasionally.
  • Heavy users – this is for those of you who just can’t live without a million apps, and upload, download and stream TV, movies and songs constantly. Find out about unlimited data allowance

Most network providers let you see how much data you’ve used via customer-account apps. Check these out to discover how much data you use each month or contact them to ask. 

How many people are on the wrong contract? 

The number of mobile customers paying too much for their phone contracts is huge. 

74% of people can save an average of £172 a year on their bills according to Billmonitor, a website company that analyses customer bills and offers the best deal according to usage. They claim that mobile phone networks overcharged UK businesses and consumers approximately £7.6bn last year.

What’s the main reason for customers overpaying for data they don’t need? 

Most people want protection from expensive extra charges from mobile phone operators, which kick in when they go over their data allowance.

How can I use less mobile data?

As well as getting the right data allowance for your phone, here’s some advice to avoid those nasty extra charges if you’re not on an unlimited package:

  • be aware of file sizes when downloading  
  • try to use WiFi whenever possible  
  • stop your apps refreshing automatically
  • be careful when going abroad, as you could face data roaming charges.

Where can I compare data packages?

Whatever your data needs and budget, we can help you. Simply use our comparison service to find a deal in less than 1 minute.

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