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Mobile phone users pay for extra 3GB of unused data

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Smartphone users are collectively paying for 143 million gigabytes of data every month that they fail to use.

A large number of mobile phone users have packages where the data allowance is too large for their needs, meaning an average of 3.4GB of data is wasted.

The research by price comparison site uSwitch, found that the gigabyte gap is worse for the more tech-savvy user aged 18-34. This group is paying for 7.5GB of data but they typically only use 3.6GB a month.

uSwitch found that users are confused by how much data they will actually consume and 21% aren’t sure how much is included in their package. This figure rises to 26% for users aged 55+.

More than a third (36%) of mobile phone customers have data bundles in their contracts but they don’t track their internet usage. This is because they don’t know this is possible or because they don’t know how to track their internet use.

But uSwitch found that one in seven with a data package do keep track of their data by looking at provider apps; 13% check their phone settings, 9% look at their account online while 8% check their monthly bills.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwith, said: “No one wants to go over their data allowance. However, in a bid to prevent over-spending and with so many contracts on the market now offering sizeable data bundles, customers can easily fall into the trap of thinking they need more than they’re actually going to use.

“By overpaying for data you don’t use or need, you’re not only wasting money, but you could unintentionally be cancelling out the value of any perks or freebies bundled into the tariff as an ‘extra’.

“It’s worth taking an average of your usage over a few months so you can see what type of package best aligns with your needs. There are now a number of ways that you can monitor how much you’re consuming every month – from apps like Walletsaver which analyse usage in real-time and provider-owned apps to simply checking usage in your settings.”

Doku added that users can set data usage warnings or a cap to make sure limits aren’t exceeded. Plus for those whose monthly usage varies, providers are increasingly offering packages that allow customers to adjust how much data they are using on a month-by-month basis, or carry a proportion over into subsequent months.

“These flexi or ‘roll-over’ contracts give users a degree of control over what they are spending each month, but a word of warning: they often require customers to actively update their usage at the end of each month,” he said.

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