What You Do And How You Use The Internet Measure Your Cell Phone Data Usage

When it comes to wireless connection to the Internet, Wi-Fi is what we usually look for and connect our mobile devices to. Wi-Fi is radio signal produced by a Wi-Fi router plugged to a modem. A modem is the main Internet source, a device provided by the Internet provider wiring your home or establishment to them. To have wireless Internet connection, a router is needed.

What if Wi-Fi is not available? How do people connect their mobile device, like smartphones, to the internet even if there is no Wi-Fi? Smartphones are provided cellular network (phone signal) by mobile network providers allowing their subscribers to use their smartphones to send and receive calls and texts. Mobile network providers also provided a way for their subscribers  use this cellular connection to access the Internet – Mobile Data. 

Your Internet Activities Determines Your Cell Phone Data Usage

While your cellular network, the same network making it possible for to make and receive texts and calls on your smartphone, links your mobile device to the Internet, you can only actually access or use the Internet if you have mobile data, which is supplied to your smartphone through your mobile network provider.

Of course, like most things, your Internet activities aren’t free. Whenever you access or utilize the Internet through your mobile device, you send or get content from the network of computers that make up the Internet. In exchange, you use up a certain amount of mobile data. This means Internet access requires cell phone data usage. As long as you have cellular signal and enough mobile data, accessing and using the internet is possible.

To know how much mobile data you need on your mobile device, you have to identify what your activities are when on the Internet. You also have to know the average cell phone data usage of these activities. Mobile network providers offer varying mobile data plans and packs. Depending on your provider, you can opt to sign up for a monthly subscription for unlimited data, limited data, or a pay-what-you-use plan. Consumable mobile data packs are also available where you buy a data pack with a certain amount of data consumable within a given number time.

Mobile data is measured using the metric units GigaByte (GB) and MegaByte (MG), where a gigabyte is bigger than a megabyte (1 GB is equal to 1,000 MB in decimal). For your information, a TeraByte (TB) is 1,000 times bigger than a GigaByte (1 GB is only 0.001 TB while 1 TB contains 1,000 GB). It is important to note that mobile data costs money and the price will depend on which country you live and mobile network provider you are subscribed to. Worldwide, the average cost of 1 GB mobile data is $8.53. A study by cable.co.uk compared and calculated the cost of 1 GB data in 230 countries and more than 6,000 data plans. It was discovered that you can get the cheapest mobile data in Israel where 1 GB is $0.05. On the other hand, Equatorial Guinea tops the chart of the most expensive mobile data where 1 GB costs $49.67. In the US, 1 GB costs $3.3 on average and can go up to $30 per GB.

To give you an idea of  your cell phone data usage, how much you need and how much it will cost you, look at these common Internet activities and how much data is used on average:

  • General Internet Browsing.  Online shopping, reading news online, and looking through websites, consumes about 60 MB data per hour. This can be more or less depending on the kind of sites you visit. Websites with more media content (videos and images) uses more mobile data.
  • YouTube. Mobile data usage when streaming or watching videos on YouTube will also vary in the kind of videos you watch or stream. Viewing in Standard Quality (SD), which is 480p, uses about 8-11 MB data per minute or 480 – 660 MB data per hour. For High Quality (HD) YouTube videos, which is 720p, about 20 – 45 MB data per minute is consumed or 1.2 – 2.7 data GB per hour. 2160p Ultra High Quality (UHD/4k) videos eat up an estimated 95 – 385 MB data per minute or 5.5 – 23 GB data per hour.
  • Netflix. Netflix estimates data usage based on video resolution. Low resolution (480p) uses about 300 MB data per hour, medium resolution (720p) consumes about 700 MB data per hour, high resolution (1080p) swallows 3 GB data per hour, and 4K (with or without HDR) devours 7 GB data per hour.
  • Social Media Use. Simply scrolling and reading posts on social media consumes 1.5 – 2 MB data per minute, about 120 MB data per hour or 3 GB per month. This means your cell phone data usage for social media can be greater if you do more than just scrolling through. For each photo you upload and post on Instagram, you use up 2 – 4 MB data. An hour on Tweeter uses about 360 MB data. 5 minutes on TikTok takes about 70 MB data and can amount to 840 MB data per hour. 8 hours of browsing and viewing content on Facebook expends 1 GB data.
  • Music Streaming. Depending on the streaming service you are using, you can use up an average of 2.5 MB data per minute or 72 MB data per hour. For 1 GB data, you can stream for 8.7 hours on Apple Music or Amazon Music Unlimited, 6.9 hours on Spotify, Tidal, or Google Play Music, and 17.4 hours on Soundcloud Go/Go+.
  • Online Gaming. Similar to other Internet activities, your data usage will depend on the game you are playing, the server size, and number count of active players. But on average, data usage can range from 40 MB to over 100 MB per hour.