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How Much Mobile Data Do I Need?
Mobile Phone & Internet Blog | MATE | 11 October 2023
Mobile data has become an essential commodity in our daily lives, with most of us dependent on it for various online activities. From scrolling through social feeds to making video calls, streaming our favourite songs and getting directions, data usage is at the core of our daily lives.
If you find yourself trying to answer the age-old question, “How much GB of data do I need?” then you’ve arrived at the right place. Here we explore the art of efficient data management and assist you in your search for the perfect mobile plan.
Understanding mobile data
The terms “mobile data” and “Wi-Fi” get thrown around regularly. But what do they actually mean, and how do they impact our daily digital activities?
What is mobile data and how does it work?
Mobile data is essentially your passport to the digital world when you’re on the move. It allows your devices to connect to the internet via cellular towers, so there’s no need for wires or a physical connection of any kind.
Whenever you access an app or a website while you’re away from Wi-Fi, your device sends a request to a cell tower. This tower then fetches the data you asked for from the internet and sends it back to your device.
Every time you check your emails, scroll through social media, or stream a video without being connected to Wi-Fi, you’re using mobile data.
What’s the difference between mobile data and Wi-Fi?
While both mobile data and Wi-Fi provide access to the internet, their source and operation are different. Wi-Fi relies on a fixed-line broadband connection, transmitting internet data through airwaves to devices within a specific range. It’s what you typically use at home, in a cafe, or at the office.
On the other hand, mobile data relies on cellular networks. Coverage can vary depending on the network’s reach, but it generally allows for broader access, especially when on the move.
So while Wi-Fi confines you to a specific location, mobile data lets you roam freely while staying connected. Knowing the distinction can help you optimise your data usage more efficiently and stay connected.
How much data does the average person use per month?
How do I know how much data I need compared to the average Aussie? In a recent report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), it was found that the average Aussie on a post-paid mobile plan is using around 14.5GB of data per month. This figure will increase or decrease depending on what you use your mobile data for and how much internet data your nbn plan can handle. Playback quality
For example, if you primarily just use your mobile phone for surfing your socials, checking your email and streaming music, you may find that your average monthly data usage is between 5 to 10GB.
However, if you like to stream videos, download movies and play games while you’re on the go, your monthly data usage will be much higher. If this sounds more like you, then your monthly mobile data usage is probably in excess of 20GB.
Data Usage Breakdown: Popular Online Activities
So now we have a rough idea of the average data usage for Aussies in a month. But how can you get a more personalised idea of your own mobile data needs? Let’s break down some of the most popular online activities to get a better idea of your individual data consumption.
Platforms like Netflix, YouTube, and Stan are data intensive and consume a significant amount of data, especially at higher playback qualities. For example, one hour of HD streaming might consume up to 3GB.
Listening to your favourite tracks on Spotify or Apple Music? These services typically use about 40 to 50MB of data per hour at the highest quality. So, while it’s less than video, streaming a soundtrack to your entire day can add up.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are data-hungry. Checking your feed and watching stories or videos can result in notable data usage. Some platforms offer a ‘data saving mode’, making it easier to keep your usage in check without missing out.
Gaming, web browsing, Zoom calls, podcasts, app downloads—they all consume data. In particular, games can range from 40MB to a massive 300MB per hour, depending on the complexity of the game you’re playing. You should also try to keep track of how many apps you download. Check the size before you download that new app, and consider if you need it or not.
How to work out your data needs
“How much mobile data do I need?” It’s a common enough question, and we’re here to help.
If you’re trying to work out how much data you need per month, then you need to start assessing your data usage habits. Each online activity consumes data differently, and knowing your habits helps estimate your monthly requirements.
Be realistic about your online data usage habits
Do you stream videos daily or just browse the web? Are you an avid gamer, or do you mostly use your phone for calls and messages? If you know that you download a lot of movies and like to stream music constantly throughout your day, then it’s better to err on the side of caution and look at unlimited data plans with high speeds and no data limit.
Consider whether your online habits will need to evolve
This might sound difficult to judge, but think of it like this: are you about to start a new job where the commute is longer? This could mean you use more data streaming videos or playing games while you travel to and from work.
Monitor your data usage
The easiest way to keep on top of your average data usage per month is to monitor it with an app or online tool. Most mobile service providers offer a service that tracks your data usage in real-time. By keeping an eye on this, you can adjust your usage or upgrade your plan if necessary.
7 Tips for managing your mobile data
If you’re looking for ways to better manage your data and keep your usage in check, then take a look at some of our useful pointers:
1. Use Wi-Fi when available
By connecting to your Wi-Fi when you’re at home (or to free Wi-Fi when you’re out) you can significantly reduce your mobile data usage. However, if you’re using publicly available Wi-Fi then just make sure t’s secure before you connect, and use a virutal private network (VPN) if you can.
2. Monitor data usage
Regularly check your usage and data cap to avoid overages, or set an alert on your phone for when you reach a certain data limit.
3. Data rollover
Some plans allow you to save data to roll over to the next month, while other plans, such as MATE’s 4G and 5G mobile plans, allow you to bank your data. Make sure you use this data up and don’t let it go to waste.
4. Limit background data
Apps often refresh in the background, consuming data. Adjust settings to restrict background data for apps you seldom use.
5. Data-saving modes
Many social media apps and browsers have a ‘data-saving’ mode, which reduces the amount of data they use. Switch this on to conserve data usage.
6. Adjust video quality
Streaming video platforms often allow adjustments in video quality. Opt for a lower quality when your data is running low.
How much data do I need for travel?
Whether you’re travelling for work or for pleasure, it’s often important that you have reliable access to an internet connection. When travelling overseas, managing your data becomes crucial. From checking maps to uploading travel snaps or staying in touch with loved ones. It’s always advisable to check data plans tailored for travel to avoid unexpected excess data charges.
Working out how much data you need for your upcoming trip is the same as gauging how much you need for your usual, daily activities. That is, work out how you plan on using your data overseas (for example, using a translation app, listening to music, getting directions, booking tours and accommodation) and be realistic about your usage requirements.
If you’re savvy about your internet usage and you’re travelling for a week or two, you’ll probably need about 5GB. However, if you’re going for a month, you might need 7GB or more.
Here are just a few helpful tips on how to manage your data while overseas:
1. Switch to airplane mode
When not in use, enable airplane mode to avoid unexpected data roaming charges.
2. Connect to Wi-Fi
Take advantage of local Wi-Fi hotspots at hotels, restaurants, and shops to conserve mobile data. Just make sure the connection is secure, and connect via a virtual private VPN for added online security.
3. Download before departure
Preload maps, music, and entertainment before leaving home, so you don’t have to rely on mobile data while travelling.
4. Disable automatic updates
Turn off automatic app updates to prevent unexpected data consumption.
MATE: Your go-to Aussie telco for 4G and 5G mobile internet plans
Offering a range of 4G and 5G mobile phone plans, MATE ensures you’re always connected with speed and reliability.
All of our mobile plans include unlimited calls and texts, as well as up to 500GB or 1000GB of banked data. You’re also entitled to 100% Australian support if you ever need it. Plus, you can save when you bundle your mobile plan with any MATE home internet plan.
Check out our 4G and 5G mobile plans and find the right one for you.
MATE 4G mobile plans
- Good Mates: This is a great choice for those who only use their mobile data for basic browsing and tasks, such as surfing socials and checking email, or for people who usually rely on Wi-Fi for their internet connection and therefor require less data.
- Better Mates: This plan would suit anyone who uses their mobile data for all the basics, as well as video calls, music streaming and watching YouTube videos.
MATE 5G mobile plans
- Great Mates: Get fantastic value for money with our Great Mates plan, which gives you 32GB of data per month. This is a great choice for those who enjoy online gaming on the go.
- Best Mates: The Best Mates plan is a good choice for those who like to stream movies and TV shows while out and about. This plan should allow you to keep up with your favourite shows when you’re away from your home Wi-Fi.
- Brilliant Mates: This 5G mobile plan should keep you happily streaming with high playback quality, as well as downloading and uploading all month long.
- Soul Mates: The ultimate 5G plan in our big data mobile plans range and for those on the go or with no internet provider that require more mobile data. Stream, download and upload to your heart’s content with a massive data allowance every month.
Managing your data isn’t as hard as you may think
Understanding and managing your mobile data are must-have skills in the modern digital age. It’s not just about saving you money by avoiding going over your limit, but ensuring seamless connectivity when you need it most.
As our reliance on mobile data grows, taking the time to assess your usage and selecting the right plan becomes more important than ever. This is where research becomes your best mate, as you take the time to assess your own data needs and compare these with the mobile phone plans on offer.
With the right planning, you can find the perfect mobile plan and ensure you never need to worry about exhausting your data.