How much data do you need?
Do you know how much data you really need each month? Here’s the lowdown on gigabytes and some tips on choosing the right level of data for your needs.
Between sending and receiving emails, surfing the web and downloading music and apps, it can be easy to chew through your monthly data allowance in next to no time.
Choosing the right data plan for your needs is important. If you have too much data, you may be paying more than you need to; not enough, and you may either be regularly buying add-ons or forking out for higher rates for the extra data you use.
To help make sure you’re getting the best possible deal, here is your go-to guide to gigabytes.
What’s a gigabyte?
To get your head around megabytes (MB) and gigabytes (GB), you have to start with bytes.
A byte is a unit of digital information that makes up everything on the web today. They’re the building blocks of the emails you send, the web pages you browse and the music and videos you enjoy.
When someone says MB or GB, it’s simply a shorthand way of talking about very large amounts of bytes:
• MB: ‘Mega’ means million, so 1MB = 1 million bytes.
• GB: ‘Giga’ means billion, so 1GB = 1 billion bytes.
Mobile providers typically offer plans that include 500MB, 1.5GB, 2GB or 5GB of data and up.
What can I do with 1GB of data?
One billion bytes might sound like a lot, but is it really? How many web pages would it take to chew through 1GB?
To help put things in perspective, with 1GB you can either view up to 3000 web pages, upload 4000 photos, watch 310 minutes of cats playing the keyboard on YouTube, or download 160 songs.
How much data do I need?
There is no short answer to this question, as it really depends on your lifestyle and how you use your phone.
From the casual web browser to the everyday ‘power user’, the level of data needed can vary drastically from person to person.
To help you get started on choosing the right data plan, consider if you are a low, mid-range, or heavy mobile data user:
• Low data user – 1GB to 3GB per month. You use your phone to check emails, access Google maps when you’re lost, and occasionally surf the web or watch a video. All up, you’re connecting to the internet for an hour or less a day.
• Mid-range data user – 4GB to 7GB per month. In addition to email, you often use your phone to check your Facebook and Twitter feeds, play games, and stream music and movies over the course of the month.
• Heavy data user – 8GB to 12GB per month. You’re on your phone or tablet several hours a day, sending email and messages, browsing the web, uploading photos and downloading music, and you watch videos or movies on your mobile several times a week.
Keep in mind that these numbers are guidelines only. To determine how much data you’re actually using, check your usage regularly throughout your billing cycle. Your mobile provider probably has an app through which you can get real-time updates on your data usage.
What if I go over my monthly data allowance?
The cost for going over your allotted data allowance depends on your mobile provider and plan. For most post-paid plans, and even some ‘pay as you go’ (PAYG) plans, providers will simply charge you for an extra ‘block’ of data if you go over your limit – for example, 1GB for $10.
Be sure to read over your plan’s terms and conditions to understand how much you will be charged for exceeding your data allowance. If you frequently find yourself going over your data limit, it may be time to upgrade your plan.
Can I share data across phones?
Depending on the type of plan you’re on, you may be able to ‘pool’ separate data allowances across multiple devices by rolling all of the mobile accounts in your household into a single shared plan.
This type of set-up can work well for families with multiple mobile phones and tablets who want the simplicity and convenience of shared data. This way, everyone can use data from a pooled allowance.
Can I get a data allowance with a PAYG plan?
Yes. If you already own a mobile phone and don’t want a lock-in contract, most of the major mobile phone providers in Australia now offer contract-free, month-to-month PAYG mobile plans that allow you to choose a mixture of talk minutes, text messages and data.
In this case, simply choose the plan or individual option that best suits your needs. Some providers allow you to buy a separate data pack with a longer expiration date so you can stretch your allowance even further
If you’re in the market for a new phone or plan that suits your data needs, we can help you find the right one. Compare different plans from our participating mobile provider today.