(BPT) - How much data do you really need on your monthly cellular plan?
To hear most wireless companies tell it, the answer is simple: go unlimited! Mobile data usage has been on the rise over the past decade, even before the pandemic forced us to stare at our phones more than usual. Audio streaming, online gaming and especially HD/4K video streaming have steadily increased; and as apps get more complex, they require more data to run effectively.
But are your individual data needs truly “unlimited”? Recent data would seem to suggest otherwise.
Even with the quarantines and shutdowns of Covid-19 forcing us to rely more heavily on our mobile devices than ever, the average smartphone user consumed about 7 gigabytes (GB) of cellular data in 2020. And whether your personal mobile data usage reaches this 7GB average depends entirely on your needs and lifestyle.
it’s easy to see how mobile data usage can quickly add up. Streaming a full HD game of your favorite sports team will require around 4GB of data. A 10-minute HD video chat uses almost 0.5GB. On-the-spot social media updates, sporting event streaming and remote video-conferencing can quickly elevate a data diet.
But with the rapidly growing availability of Wi-Fi, which lets you access a wireless Internet connection without consuming any data from your cellular plan, it’s possible for a user to stay connected all day long — and not use a bit of cellular data.
In addition, some carriers promising “unlimited data” will actually limit your high-speed data to just a couple of gigabytes per month. Once you use up that allotment, you’ll have unlimited access, but at much slower speeds. This makes it more difficult to load pages quickly, or to stream video, even though you’re paying a premium for “unlimited” access.
While the big carriers keep coming up with creative new ways to encourage you to go “unlimited,” real deals can be found that provide more affordable options while delivering data that fits your lifestyle.
For instance, take a look at Consumer Cellular. This 100% U.S.-based provider offers no-contract cellphone plans including data plans ranging from 3GB to unlimited data each month. Best of all, since your data needs can fluctuate from one month to the next, they let you change your plan anytime you need to without paying any additional fees — and even provide free upgrades to the next level plan if you happen to go over your data before you make a change. These budget-friendly features help you keep your costs down while getting the data you actually need.
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Unlimited anything sounds nice, but in reality, no one wants to buy more of something than they’ll ever use – or pay more than they should. But that’s exactly what most people with unlimited cellular data plans are doing.
Cellular competition is fierce, so make sure you’re getting what’s best for the way you really use your data. Check your current bill to find out how much you’re actually using, then shop around. One size never fits all, so with a bit of smart research, you’ll find all the data you really need, and for less.