How Much Wireless Data Do I Really Need?

by Robyn Wright on December 1, 2014

in Tech

How much wireless data do I need?

For folks just getting a smartphone they are often confused about how much data they will need each month. For those who have had a smartphone for a while who are on “unlimited data” they are afraid to let go of that because they do not understand how much data they actually use either. Today I am sharing some information to help you understand how much data you need and what actually counts towards your data plan. Disclosure: I am a Verizon Lifestyle Ambassador and am compensated, however I am also personally a Verizon customer. Opinions are my own.

What counts as data? Anytime you are using your wireless providers service it counts as data. When you access your email, internet sites, Facebook, Twitter, stream music and movies, and upload photos these all can count towards your data if you are on your service providers access.

When you are at home and connect your smartphone or tablet to your home internet it does not count towards your data plan. You may also be able to connect at work, the library, a coffee shop, etc. and when you do so this again does not count towards your data plan. For your home connection you can set it up to automatically connect when you are in range – this saves you a lot of data!

Using Verizon’s Data Calculator for some common tasks here are estimates of how much data is used for certain tasks.

  • Internet Browsing: approximately 500 MB/month (about .5 GB) if you visit about 45 pages per day.
  • Streaming Music: approximately 1.75 GB/month if you stream 1 hour per day.
  • Streaming Video: approximately 1.75 GB/month if you stream 10 minutes per day.
  • Uploading photos: approximately 900MB/month (about .9 GB) if you upload 10 photos per day.
  • Navigation: approximately 38 MB/month (about .04 GB) if you use it 15 minutes per day.
  • Email: approximately 7 MB/month (about .007 GB) if you send 25 text only emails a day.
  • Online Games: approximately 150 MB/month (about .15 GB) if you play for 1 hour per day.

Now I actually find these numbers definitely on the high estimate side. These estimates will also depend on the type of data you are using (3G/4G) and the type of content (regular resolution vs high def in video for example). Plus remember that this is if you do everything on your wireless access, if you are at home and connected to that network these numbers do not matter since a Wi-Fi connection does not count against your wireless data plan.

My suggestion for the average person, per device, is to start at 1GB and watch your usage using the tools on your device. If you need to go up to a higher data level, call your provider and ask them to bump you up before you go over your current limit.

I have 2 different wireless accounts, one for work and one for my family. The screenshots on the white phones below, my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (Android) is my work account. You can see that I used over 4GB of data so far in this billing period but that includes me taking two trips this month (one to NYC, one to Chicago) and utilizing the built in hotspot feature to access the internet on my Surface Pro 3 tablet while I was traveling.

verizon android data (5)   verizon android data (7)

The first screenshot is from the My Verizon Wireless app. The second is from the Data Usage app on the Samsung phone itself. You can see it is easy to keep track of your data using these tools. Note that the totals are different because I do not have the billing cycles set the same in both tools.

verizon android data (2)     verizon android data (3)

If you want to see what you are using data on just check the data usage. The two screenshots above show the top using apps on this phone. The first shows mobile data usage – that does count against data plan; the second shows Wi-Fi usage – which does not count against my data plan.

For my family account we have four smartphone lines and one tablet on our Verizon More Everything plan and with the current bonus data offerings we have a total of 14 GB of data that we share between all five devices each month. These screenshots are on my Nokia Lumia Icon (Windows Phone).

verizon windows phone data (1)     verizon windows phone data (6)

The Data Sense app gives a nice overview of your total usage as well as showing the usage on both cellular data and Wi-Fi for each app.

verizon windows phone data (4)     verizon windows phone data (5)

This is the My Verizon Wireless app again but on my Windows Phone this time. You can see how much total for the More Everything Plan as well as the total data used by each device on the plan. This makes it easy to see if any one person on your plan is gobbling up data.

If you are already a smartphone or tablet user start using these tools to see how much data you really are using. Then adjust your current data plan up or down as needed. Remember you can call your provider and do this at any time.

If you are planning on getting a smartphone or tablet soon then set these tools up right away once you activate your device. This will help you track your data and make adjustments based on how you use your mobile devices.

Do you have a data plan for mobile devices now? If so, how many GB per month do you pay for?


Robyn is a #VZWBuzz Lifestyle Blogger for Verizon

© 2014, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.

Comments on this entry are closed.


1 coupontammy December 1, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Yes we have a data plan on our phones. We have 10GB per month. We used to have less but we found out that we could get 10 GB for the same price as the 6 GB. With two kids that don’t ever put down their phones, this should be enough. We actually had a couple of months that I had to threaten to take away phones because we were so close to going over. The important thing to remember is to connect to your home WiFi when you walk through the door.

2 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Agreed @coupontammy:disqus – it is critical to connect to your home Wi-Fi when you can. I also found that for us it was cheaper for the 10GB+ plan than lower rates because of the discounts available to those who “bring their own device”.

3 Candyce December 1, 2014 at 9:25 pm

Thank you so much for the info!

4 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:44 pm

You are very welcome @disqus_nhWDxXmeOY:disqus!

5 AngelaLilly December 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

My hubby has an iPhone 4 and has not upgraded to a newer version primarily for data issues. When he bought his phone almost 4 years ago, he was able to get a plan with Verizon for unlimited data/texting and 500 mins. When his contract ran out two years later, they no longer offered unlimited data on ANY of their plans. We decided to stay month-to-month until his phone dies to keep the unlimited data because he uses A LOT! last time I looked, he was using around 5GB a month or more! If he gets a new phone or signs a new contract, he loses unlimited and our monthly bill will go up, so we are milking it as long as we can. LOL

6 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Understandable @AngelaLilly:disqus – as “bring your own device” customers we do not have a contract per say with Verizon and get great discounts as well. This is why working with a customer service specialist at a Verizon store or over the phone is really crucial to finding what works best for your family and their needs.

7 AngelaLilly December 5, 2014 at 7:23 am

I am not coming down on Verizon at ALL! I have my pay-as-you-go phone thru them and we have been nothing but happy with them. They also offer my hubby a 21% discount off his monthly bill thru his employer. We are actually going month to month like this with his old phone BECAUSE we were told it was the best deal for us by one of their CSRs. :-) We thought we HAD to sign a new two year contract when his ran out and the CSR is who educated us on how to do what we are currently doing. LOL

8 tannawings December 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm

We dont have the net on the phone .I would have no clue how much data to buy if I ever did. This post explains a lot though!

9 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I’m glad this post helps. I know you are not using internet and such on your phones now but eventually I bet you will. You know I’m here to help you through that process of getting connected when you are ready!

10 Brenda December 3, 2014 at 11:34 am

Great info,Thanks for sharing!

11 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Your welcome @MejorandoMiHogar:disqus!

12 cookie1135 December 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Very interesting and helpful information! Thank you!! :D

13 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:47 pm

You’re welcome !@cookie1135:disqus – if you have any questions just yell!

14 Selene M. December 4, 2014 at 4:30 pm

We’re full-time RVers and if we don’t have reliable free wi-fi at a campground, we can easily use over 10 GB a month…..and we don’t stream video of music. Needless to say, we stay aware of our monthly usage so we don’t exceed what our plan allows.

15 Robyn Wright December 4, 2014 at 4:49 pm

My in-laws thought about being full time RVers when they retired, unfortunately it did not work out for them. I’m sure at some of the remote campgrounds getting a signal might be a little tougher. Do any of the campgrounds offer wi-fi service as part of their daily fees?

16 Kelster December 5, 2014 at 6:57 am

Really helpful – especially the information on streaming video. Easy to use up so much. Always videos to watch.

17 lolaly December 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm

So helpful… wow I am probably using way less data than I thought!

18 Rebretta December 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I had an app that came on my phone that was supposed to optimize my wifi/data usage. All it did was kept me using the best signal, which meant I was on data when I should have been on wifi! Blocked that app right quick! It was hard switching from unlimited data to limited, but we are managing by watching it close and getting notifcations when we are close to our limit.

19 Robyn Wright January 11, 2015 at 12:56 pm

Glad you figured out the problem with that app.

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