Information Technology Services (ITS)

Did you go over your mobile data again?

Published on: October 13, 2016

Did you go over your mobile data again? Your Monthly TechTipDoes this sound familiar? You are going away on a work trip or vacation, you get a roaming plan for your corporate phone for data access when not on a WiFi connection. You planned ahead, job well done! As your trip progresses you get a funny video or a song from a colleague, or your kids send you a “we miss you” video, or you decide to video chat with family or office. No big deal, you have data!

What happens next? SURPRISE! Your mobile phone bill comes in a month later with an astronomical amount due attached to it!

So how do you avoid the infamous data overage charges? You can become familiar with how online content and data usage relate so you can become a data usage pro!

The Basics:

Downloading and Uploading: Downloading & uploading files uses the same amount of data as the size of the file.

Streaming: Streaming content can be different from downloading as certain content providers do what is called “progressive downloading”, this mean that the content is downloaded in parts as the user consumes it; however, this depends on the online content provider. Generally it is safe to assume that streaming uses the same amount as downloading or uploading (file size = data usage)

Quality matters: The quality of the streaming service or file you are viewing matters because the higher the quality the higher your data usage will be. If you need to conserve data, it is always the best practice to lower the quality of the video, or check the quality of the file you are streaming so you can estimate how much data you will use.

Not All Video Chat Platforms Are Equal: The amount of data used during a video chat depends on the platform you are using, whether it is Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts, they don’t calculate your usage the same way.

Roaming Costs More: If you happened to not get a roaming data package, most providers will charge a premium price for any data used outside of your allowed data usage area. We always recommend obtaining a data roaming plan when travelling.

Data Conversion: 1 GB (gigabytes) of data is equivalent to 1,000 MB (megabytes)

Average Data Plan: Most users have anywhere between 500 MB – 3GB of data as part of their monthly plan. Roaming packages generally provide minimum amounts of data for the lowest package price.

*Common examples of data usage:

Email Attachments: 10 emails = 30MB
Songs: Uploading or Downloading 25 Songs = 145 MB
Web Page Visits: 250 Web Page Visits = 250 MB
Streaming Audio:
5 hours of streaming = 700 MB
Streaming Standard Defintion Video: 1 hour = 1 GB
Streaming High Quality Video: 1 hour = 2.5 GB
FaceTime or Skype: 10 minute video call = 30 MB
Google Hangouts: 10 minutes video call = 150 MB

Common Online Content Providers & Average Data Use:

Netflix: 1 GB of data / hour of standard definition (3 GB/hr for HD)
YouTube: 2.5 – 6 MB / minute
Music Streaming: 140 MB / hour

*The numbers provided are averages meant to help estimate data usage