If you’re like me then when you signed up for your cell plan way back when you went all-in on the unlimited things. Got you data, texts and a fancy plan with more minutes per month than you need in a year but the bundled price was a steal so you went for it. Have you looked at your bill since then to see if you’re paying for more than you use? The carriers have moved to more tiered data plans lately and many of you may not realize how little data you actually use. A recent study (out of UK) from Broadbandgenie.co.uk found that half of all respondents didn’t know how much mobile data they used and note that most people are afraid of the steep penalties for exceeding your plan but never calculate the overcharges for under using their plan. They note:

…the flip side of the coin hides the real story – people using too little data, not too much: the same consumer confusion sees many customers paying too much for their mobile broadband data tariff. Instead of a few people facing bills in their thousands, we’re talking about thousands of customers who could probably halve their mobile internet bill and see no difference in their online usage.

Many people wont think to check their bill unless it’s higher than normal – if it’s just the amount they expect, they don’t think to see how close they are to their limit. We strongly advise people to go back over their bills to see how much they could potentially save, either by reducing their tariff or even going to a pay-as-you-go deal.

I think they’re on to something. I checked my wife’s bill and realize that I should just get her a camera and call it a day. No idea why she has a data or text plan. What do you guys see? How much data do you use in a month? If you don’t know, a little social experiment – first note what you think the number is and then check the real number and tell us how close you were.


  1. my wife talked me into getting her a blackberry last fall, and this was back when you HAD to get the $30 unlimited data plan. i constantly monitored her usage (usually somewhere between 1MB and 2MB per month). so you bet your ace that when AT&T unveiled this new plan i was on the horn with them the first day to drop her line down to the minimum requirement.

    now as far as my line (the old fuze is still goin’ strong) i use between 300MB and 500MB, depending on how much music i stream and/or tether. still, this is nowhere near the new 2GB plan, but i can’t justify getting rid of my now grandfathered unlimited data plan to save $5 per month.

    so to make a short story long (lol) – i always now exactly how much data i am using.

  2. Well when I had AT&T and my Fuze I did 4-5GB a month, then I got my HD2 and found out T-mobile’s service is horible and my data useage has dropped to a few hundred MB, not because I want to use it less but because half the time I don’t get 3G and their Edge when it works (which isn’t always despite having 5 bars) it’s slower than dial up speeds.

  3. apparently noone beleive them when AT&T said that 98% of people use less than 2 GB of data and 60% use less then 200mb… wasnt everyone sooooooo pissed off at ATT for being the bad guys and charging everybody ridiculous data overage? mob mentality…

  4. @sm0k3ydaband1t

    Yes because at&t is is offering these services to save you, the consumer, money. Bet if your grandmother went into the store and was offered a Blackberry, they would try to sell her the most expensive data plan for features she would never use.

  5. firstly, i would not allow my grandmother to go to a store for a blackberry because she a) doesnt need one, and b) she would be calling me everyday with questions and i dont need to tackle teaching another old person how to use there phone… and shame on the consumer for being a dumb ignorant douche and not asking questions about what there buying… its kinda like that commercial trying to get you to ask your doctor questions, youll ask a clerk how many calories in the coffee your buying but you cant ask simple fucking questions and make simple decisions regarding cellular service? oh, did you hear about the data calculator ATT offers for customers to estimate data usage before they even get the phone… it really takes the guesswork out… oh, already have your phone? thats cool because they show you how much data youve used for the month right on your f-ing bill!!! do you expect a commision based sales rep to push the lower plans? i sure as hell dont, but ive got the common sense to know that hes going to push the higher plans before i go in there… ever heard of thinking for yourself? stop being a sheep

  6. @sm0k3ydaband1t

    Brother I’m not the sheep. I’m not the one defending at&t’s bullcrap (how come my comments haven’t been posted when I use profanity and this at&t rep gets to drop the f-bomb) data plans. Both you and I are very informed consumers since we both frequent this website and understand how much data usage we use. I’ve seen the data calculator on the website brother, I’ve used it, it’s crap. It’s a horrendous predictor of how you will use your data. From what I recall you can’t even factor in if you plan to watch youtube videos. By the way I know plenty of older people who use Blackberrys and love them. They seem to be the easier “smartphones” that people can quickly acclimate to. Meant no disrespect when using your grandmother as an example, but, seriously get off at&t’s nuts.

  7. i dont drink the corporate kool-aid, you can determine how much streaming video you watch per day or per month, a blackberry is still confusing as hell to an old person, and youre missing the WHOLE point, EVEN THE HIGHER DATA PLAN IS CHEAPER THAN ALL PREVIOUS SMARTPHONE DATA PLANS!!!! so yeah, even if the asshole rep sells the person on the 2GB instead of 200MB plan there still saving the customer money… and im pretty sure i said “f-ing” my appologies if not, but seriously put your hate for overage charges away for a minute and think about whats going on here… and i will not get off AT&T’s nuts… there the only carrier that works (well) in vermont.

  8. @ sm0k3ydaband1t

    No apologies needed bro, I’m hating because I want to use profanity too. I see your point about the data plan packages, but really, these plans are only applicable if someone is using a dumbphone, with the occasional e-mail and web browse to get directions here and there, low data usage. These plans are not meant for heavy data use on smartphones, especially with all the youtubes and last.fm/streaming radio apps. At&t is trying to pull a fast one and will try to convince everyone that they’re saving them money by offering these graduated plans, but this is really an insidious move that I hope the other providers don’t mimic. What happens when you graduate to a smartphone or begin using your phone to it’s fullest potential and are capped at 200MB? I don’t think at&t will be as benevolent as they were with us going over the 5GB cap and just looking the other way since it was advertised as “Unlimited data.” Hell no! It’s just another form of revenue for them and they will stick you with overage data charges. Besides tell me what phone has a built in app (really I don’t know, I know I can get a CAB for WM, but that’s it) for tracking your monthly data usage. Maybe you can send a text to at&t and get that information, I really don’t know. Either way the consumer will need a lot of lube. At&t sucks in LA, CA by the way. I’m glad it works “well” in VT for you. One last question. I’m sure you are grandfathered in to the at&t unlimited data, what if you weren’t, would you even consider at&t as a fresh customer? I know with these new plans I wouldn’t.

  9. @Philly – when did we moderate a comment for a curse? I know I didn’t do it and I tried to look at the logs and couldn’t find it. We do have some autofilters that mark things as spam (and without them allt he comments would be spam) so that may be the culprit but I don’t think we would have removed a comment for it. We have the ability to edit comments too so we could just change it if we wanted without deleting the whole thing:) Sorry – I want to let you guys keep going at it but I just wanted clarification so I can see if it did happen and if it was staff or automatically done.

  10. sm0k3ydaband1t you’re from Vermont, thats awesome…I’m from Johnson, VT and have to agree that ATT is the best in VT. Verizon SUCKS for coverage especially in my area.

  11. always happy to meet a fellow vermonter, but @philly please do me a favor and google the ATT data calculator, you can see how much streaming video (they even clarify “youtube standard quality”) you can watch daily, how many web pages viewed, streaming music hours a day, its pretty accurate, for my usage at least.. and just so you know, i was grandfathered into the 30$ unlimited plan, i switched because i dont use nearly enough data, i would like to consider myself a “heavy” data user and im only using about 1/2 gig to a gig per month… since january… and i use wifirouter to tether on my tilt2 without paying for tethering, i still dont use the 2 GB (i dont use the tethering often because wifi is usually always available when i want to use my computer) the way i see it anyone using more data than 2GB is already on an unlimited data plan and can choose to stay on it, and there is a wifi signal almost everywhere i go so its not like you have to constantly use your data, if people just used there head a little hardly anybody would see overage charges. so to answer your question, if i was a “fresh” customer, yes, i would choose AT&T because they ARE cheaper than the competition, they have amazing service in my area, and theyre a GSM carrier and not some CDMA mashup crap. beleive me, i have my gripes about AT&T but theyre the lesser of the evils in my eyes, especially after adopting tiered data plans

  12. Used GPRS Monitor for the past three years and more recently, SPB Wireless Monitor, not because I had to but because I wanted to know what spending an hour on YouTube or streaming music really means in MB’s. SPB Wireless Monitor gives me a detailed description of each app and how much data they download in a 24 hour period. Even if you only ran the trial you would learn a whole bunch about your personal data usage. Sort of like counting calories. On Wednesday I accessed 15 different services/apps for a total of 3.1MB. Today I have only accessed 7 for a total of 8.6MB, and I still have a few hours to go. I average between 300 and 600 MB per month, reaching a bit over 800MB once, so a 2GB plan is good for me and I never expect to exceed it. Will be knocking off that five bucks when I renew this fall. I know plently of current users who would never exceed the 200MB cap, and even if they did every once in a while, they would still only be paying $30 (for up to 400MB that is).

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