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What does 1GB get you? Mobile internet explained

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These days it's common to see mobile phone data plans that are 10GB a month or more. But no matter how big the data allowance is, some people always manage to run out.

It's worth knowing just how much you can do with your data. So let's take a look at how long 1GB will last you.

Group of people on a train using their smartphones

1GB of data a month lets you do one of the following:

  • About 1 hour of using TikTok
  • 4 hours of streaming on Netflix1
  • 7 hours of listening to music on Spotify
  • Up to 500 hours of using Google Maps2

5GB of data a month breaks down to around:

  • About 5 hours of using TikTok
  • 20 hours of streaming on Netflix
  • 35 hours of listening to music on Spotify
  • Up to 2500 hours of using Google Maps

10GB of data a month breaks down to around:

  • About 10 hours of using TikTok
  • 40 hours of streaming on Netflix
  • 70 hours of listening to music on Spotify
  • Up to 5000 hours of using Google Maps

Yes, gigabytes (GB) are bigger than megabytes (MB)

  • 1 GB is made up of 1024 MB
  • 1 MB is made up of 1024 kilobytes KB

There are smaller units (bytes) but most internet data is measured in MB and GB as it makes most sense.

Yes, 1GB of data can be enough to get you through the day if you don't use data-heavy apps.

If you only use your phone for navigation, messaging and web browsing, 1GB of data should be more than enough.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2022 said that the average person used 5.6GB of data per month in 2021.

This was up by 24% on 2020's 4.5GB per month. In fact, mobile data use has increased by roughly 20-30% every year since 2016.

Most mobile handsets allow you to track your data usage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. So it's worth finding this setting and checking how much data you actually use each month.

You can also download monitoring apps that tell you which mobile apps are using the largest amount of data.

There's a simple way to work this out - do you go over your data allowance every month?

If you do then you probably need more data.

If you don't then you're ok. But it's worth checking that you're not paying for data that you're not using. If you never reach your data allowance, it's worth speaking to your network provider to see if you can get a smaller deal at a cheaper price.

Your data needs are completely down to how you use your phone phone and for how long.

It also depends where you use your phone. If you use Wi-Fi most of the time, you aren't using your mobile data at the same time.

If you go over your data allowance, you're normally charged for every megabyte (MB) you use.

The cost of this depends on your network, so check how much this is before you breach your data limit.

Most networks warn you when you’re about to go over your data limit.

Often they offer you an 'add-on' allowing you to continue using data but not having to pay for every megabyte.

But if this keeps happening you should consider upgrading your deal as it should work out cheaper.

Be especially careful using your mobile phone abroad (called 'roaming') as the data costs can be extortionate when you're travelling.

No, when you're connected to Wi-Fi you aren't using any mobile data. If you're not sure, look at the top corner of your phone screen. If you see the Wi-Fi symbol, you're not using any mobile data.

But if you see an icon that looks like a bar graph, then you're likely using your mobile data.

No, the amount of data doesn't change when you use 5G, just the speed at which you get it.

Be warned though - the speed of 5G could make you use your phone even more just because it's so quick.



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