As you can see, picking a broadband plan largely depends on how you plan to use your data. Of course, if you’re an avid internet user and streaming junkie like we are, an unlimited data plan is always your best bet. You can browse through offers on our site and see which plan best fits your needs.
General email and googling
Let’s say you’re not that internet-savvy and you only use the web for minimal stuff – like sending an email every now and then, doing some research for work, looking up recipe ideas, as long as you don’t go online to download or stream, you will only need a limited amount of data to get by – so a 20/50 GB data plan might just be enough to satisfy your surfing cravings. This is clearly not the case for everyone though. A report by Nielsen revealed that the average person spends the equivalent of almost an entire day online every week. Moreover, if your family also regularly goes online, you need to take into account their needs as well. And kids are known to spend a lot of time in front of the computer. 20GB for the entire family will likely be insufficient.
Additional tip: If you frequently make calls via Skype, you don’t need to worry about exceeding your data limit. A standard voice call on the popular messaging service only uses about 360KB per minute.
Social networks aren’t that data hungry, but you should still consider this if you’re an avid user. Photo: Shutterstock
Social media is all the rage nowadays, and the same study we mentioned above states that seven in ten Australians are active social media users. During a minute of casual Facebook browsing you can easily burn around 2MB of data. So if you’re an avid user who spends more than an hour per day chatting and looking at Facebook pics and videos, you can easily burn over 3GB of data just to indulge your Facebook habit. Moreover, if you upload a lot of photos, that can add up to quite a significant amount of usage. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest all consume less data than the mighty Facebook. Not the same can be said about YouTube, which brings us to…
Streaming a lot of videos online can take a real toll on your data cap. It’s a common belief that streaming a video consumes less data than downloading it, but that’s not necessarily the case. Whenever you hit play on a video, the file buffers ahead of time – you’re basically downloading it. You can end up using more data. Think about it: if you accidentally close the page or refresh it you will have to download the file all over again.
Here are the rates at which different resolutions consume data:
360p = 5.625 MB/minute, 337.5 MB/hour
480p = 7.5 MB/minute, 450 MB/hour
720p = 18.75 MB/minute, 1,125 MB/hour
1080p = 33.75 MB/minute, 2,025 MB/hour
Sure, this is merely a drop in the ocean for someone on a big 1000GB plan, but if you pick a smaller one you would be amazed by how fast streaming YouTube videos can burn through you monthly data.
Watching hours of data on YouTube quickly burns through your monthly allowance. Photo: Shutterstock
Surprisingly, playing the games isn’t what uses up most of the data – they generally burn around 1-2 MB per minute, sometimes less. However, if you plan on downloading the game from an online store, things get trickier. Some game files can be larger than 50GB – if you’re on a modest broadband plan, you can easily wipe out your internet for the month with a single download.
Netflix, Stan, and other streaming services
Streaming TV services are similar to YouTube in how much data they use per minute. However, due to the fact that TV shows and movies are longer than your average YouTube video, you will end up using more data over the course of a month.
We already covered approximately how much data you need to stream content on Australia’s most popular subscription video on demand services, so we won’t get into it again. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
Netflix uses 0.7GB/h for SD streaming and 3GB/h for HD streaming
Stan uses and 1.13GB/h for SD streaming 2.89GB/h for HD streaming
Foxtel Now uses 1.4GB/h for SD streaming and 3.2GB/h for HD streaming
It’s also important to note that these services will automatically choose the resolution of the stream based on the speed of your connection, so you have to manually adjust it if you’re looking to reduce the amount of data you spend while watching Mindhunter. Also, these services are unmetered on some providers, so that’s something worth inquiring about before choosing a broadband plan.