Four tips to avoid pushing your mobile data plan past its limit

A telco has been fined and will pay compensation after failing to conduct proper identity checks.

A telco has been fined and will pay compensation after failing to conduct proper identity checks. Photo: Getty

Getting your cheeky Netflix fix on the train to work every day could be pushing your mobile data plan past its limits.

Last year, the consumer watchdog found major telcos are charging more for mobile data plans by offering higher limits that most Australians don’t want or need.

But a new survey of 833 Australians by Finder has found almost half still use up all – or nearly all – of their monthly mobile data allowances, despite the average user having 60 gigabytes of data with their plans.

This is especially surprising because many people have been working from home over the past two years due to the pandemic, Finder tech expert Angus Kidman said.

Mr Kidman said people pushing their data limits to the brink is largely down to the fact they live on their phones.

“We’re using up a lot of data because the main use for our phones now is data – calls are a little bit of an afterthought,” he said.

Mr Kidman said that Australians have become relaxed about their data limits because some telcos have reduced the financial penalties for going over.

Instead, more providers are opting to just slow down the internet or charge a smaller fee when data allowances are used up.

But if you’ve had enough of slower internet speeds or excess charges, here are four tips to help rein in your data usage.

1. Automatically connect your mobile to wi-fi

Mr Kidman said using your mobile data should be your “last resort” especially if you’re at home.

Check to see if your phone’s settings will allow you to automatically connect to wi-fi that you have previously used, especially in places such as your home or office.

And if you know you’re heading somewhere with guaranteed access to wi-fi, try holding off on your internet usage until then.

2. Pause your videos

Watching videos online eats up more data than a casual scroll through your emails or Facebook feed, independent telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said.

So if you’ve got enough patience, try and wait until you get home and use your wi-fi to watch the latest hit Netflix show or viral TikTok video.

3. Keep track of your data

Finder research shows almost one in four Australians don’t know how much data is included in their plan, and Mr Kidman said this could be contributing to the number of people exceeding their data limits.

“If you don’t know how much [data] you’ve got, you’re not necessarily gonna be very aware of what’s going wrong,” he said.

It’s easier than ever to keep an eye on your data limit, and how much you have used, as most mobile providers now offer apps that keep track of your mobile data activity in real time.

If you catch yourself repeatedly running over your data limit, it could be time to think about upgrading your plan.

4. Upgrade your plan

Going over your monthly mobile data limit once or twice isn’t an issue, but if it’s become a regular occurrence, Mr Budde suggests shopping around for a new plan.

To find the right plan for you, Mr Budde said you should keep a record of how much mobile data you use over a few months, and use that information to help you pick the right amount of data you need in your new plan.

Don’t forget to shop around for the best price either, he said.

This advice also applies to the 54 per cent of Australians who Finder’s data shows usually have a lot of leftover mobile data every month.

In December, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found many mobile users are paying for data they don’t use.

The ACCC said major companies such as Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are increasingly offering ‘more-for-more’ data plans.

Mr Budde said consumers who aren’t making the most of their current plan should also shop around and try to find a lower data limit.

Topics: Data
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