In today’s hyper-connected world, nobody would dream of living without 24-hour internet access. The downside of having the world at your fingertips is that constantly exceeding your mobile data allocation can be an expensive business. So how can you calculate how much data you really need on your mobile plan and what you should be paying for it?

Everyone’s data usage varies, which means there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. It comes down to your personal online habits and preferences. If regularly watching YouTube videos is your thing, you’ll burn through a lot more data than if you simply use your smartphone to check your email and for the odd Google search.

Like most things, data usage can quickly add up without you realising it. If you have an iPhone with an 8-megapixel camera, for example, uploading a single photo at full resolution on Facebook or other social media platforms can use up to 1.5MB. Upload a whole album of photos, and there goes a big chunk of data.

How much data does the average user consume?

The average Australian mobile phone handset internet subscriber used around 630MB of data per month in 2014, according to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Based on this finding, opting for a mobile plan with a minimum of 1GB of data would be the safest choice.

It’s important to remember, however, that data usage is only going up. In 2013 the average monthly usage figure was around 250MB per month, which means there was a 152% increase in the average usage within one year. With the upwards trend only likely to continue, the 2015 figure will be higher still.

What are the telcos providing?

No mobile phone plan in Australia includes unlimited data, but over the years the telcos have increased their data inclusions to keep up with growing usage.

These days most mid-tier plans around the $50 per month range come with between 1GB and 4G of data. That should cover the needs of the majority of users, but again heavy download usage such as video streaming can easily blow that out.

For $70 a month or more, you can upsize your limit to between 7GB and 10GB of data, and if you’re willing to fork out as much as $130 a month, you can score 20GB. That should cover even the heaviest of usage, allowing for a fair amount of video and music streaming.

How can I keep track of my data usage?

Before you decide how much data you’re likely to need, it’s a good idea to monitor your existing usage. Luckily, smartphones make that easy with data tracking tools already built into your phone.

On both iPhones and Android phones, you can find your data usage in the Settings mode, while Window Phone users have a data usage app called Data Sense that allows you to pre-set your existing plan allowance and monitor your current mobile and Wi-Fi data usage.

Telcos are also willing to help by providing tracking tools, either via a mobile website, or increasingly via a specific app for your smartphone. Keep in mind, though, that these can be slow in updating, sometimes being as much as 24 hours behind actual usage.

Considering that as we become more heavily reliant on our smartphones, our data usage is likely to increase, it may be wise to give yourself a buffer when calculating your monthly usage. And banish those over-the-limit data blow outs once and for all.

How much data do you use, and are there any plans you find to be great value? Share with us in the comments!

Bessie Hassan is the Consumer Advocate at finder.com


Tech Coach HQ started a #30dayblog challenge on 1st November focusing on all the different ways of using a mobile device in business. As part of this challenge, I’ve been using an iPad as the primary device to run my business for 30 days. I don’t have a smartphone (yet), which means that I had only the iPad to rely on.

Image Source

I’m already using different digital workflows to achieve certain tasks, but this challenge has forced me to improve my processes. There have been some decided benefits along the way as well as a few unexpected challenges.

Benefits of an iPad:

Here are my top 5 benefits for using mobile devices (tablets and phones) for any business:

  1. All-day power. The iPad’s battery lasts long enough for me to use it through most of the day. I also bought a battery pack that extends the amount of time I can use it, something I’d highly recommend. It is able to completely recharge the iPad once, or a smartphone up to five times.
  2. Creating media such as images and photos. Having one device to shoot, edit and then export videos and photos makes publishing content much easier.
  3. Presentations: I love presenting from the ‘palm of my hand’ and have developed a ‘five step process’ shared on Day 13 of the 30 Day challenge blog posts.
  4. Document Management. Being able to view, edit and share documents such as Microsoft Office or Google Drive documents via the iPad has been a massive advantage especially when dealing with prospective clients or during business meetings. I have been able to access files quickly and update as necessary.
  5. Working on the go. It doesn’t matter where I am. This was evident when I had to travel to Bendigo for a 2 hour workshop (which meant travelling two hours each way from Melbourne to Bendigo). I was able to prepare a presentation, mark-up and annotate PDF’s for an upcoming marketing workshop and listen to audiobooks on leadership.

Challenges of an iPad:

  1. There isn’t one app that will do everything for you. Sometimes it is a matter of working out which apps work best for the final product. You will need to compromise by adapting your workflow depending on the limitations of the app.
  2. Determining which apps are right for you. Researching apps does take time and it does take a lot of refinement to get exactly what you are looking for. You’ll go through a lot of trial and error to find the specific ones that fit with your workflow.
  3. Experimenting with apps can be costly. App directories are exactly that—directories. Just because an app is in a directory doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Sometimes, you need to buy them and try them out for yourself.
  4. Some systems won’t work, don’t work with iPads. Not all processes can be replaced by an iPad, especially in a retail business where there are custom systems that need certain programs to work.
  5. Digital de-cluttering can be painful. Balancing paper and digital processes is difficult, especially deciding what goes digital and what stays physical. If you don’t have good systems set up in the first place, it can definitely take double the time to complete the task.

Other Useful Tips:

  • Sharing resources via my Pinterest board has been one way of keeping track of resources and also gaining ideas for this 30 Day Blog Challenge. I use ‘Geek Mummy’s 6 step process to ‘pin’ ideas and websites from web sites outside of the Pinterest app via my iPad.

Overall, I think it has been an interesting challenge, and I will continue to use the iPad as my primary device. The benefits listed above certainly outweigh the challenges! Tech Coach HQ will also be turning it into an eBook at the end of this year full of interactive content such as videos.

So, readers, I’d love to hear what you think: How far off is the computer being dead and being replaced by other technology?

Featured image by atmtx

Megan Iemma

Technology Coach and “IT” girl Megan Iemma is a thought leader in the world of technology and its uses. An educator and technogeek, Megan combined her passions for education and technology and founded Tech Coach HQ  working with businesses and their teams to improve processes and embrace the productivity technology has to offer.