Open thread: how much data do you use per month?

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 16, 2014

Moto G Review - YouTube 28 001142

Music streaming, video streaming, web browsing, social networking — all these activities have at least one thing in common: they use up data. Another commonality these activities share is that a vast majority of Americans at least semi-regularly use one or more of these services through a smartphone.

According to a new NPD study, six out of 10 Americans now have smartphones, a figure that is 52 percent higher from where it stood during the same timeframe last year. With smartphones becoming increasingly commonplace, mobile data usage is also on the rise. During the fourth quarter of 2013 it was determined that the average consumer used 6.6 gigabytes of data per month, from a combination of Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

We imagine that most of our readers aren’t that surprised. Whether you’re regularly watching Netflix, streaming music with Google Play Music or Spotify, or just downloading a bunch of apps, odds are your own usage probably falls somewhere around this level.

What’s interesting though is that the NPD study reports that one of the key drivers for ever-increasing data consumption is music streaming, apparently more so than any other activity. The NPD study says 52 percent of Americans use at least on streaming music app on their mobile devices, and that Pandora is the leading service followed by iHeart Radio, Spotify, TuneIn Radio and Slacker Radio.

While this increase in data usage came from a variety of activities, a key driver has been the adoption of streaming music services such as Pandora and iHeart Radio.

The more I think about my own data usage habits, I find myself not particularly surprised. According to my data usage tracking on my Nexus 5, Spotify is the largest contributor when it comes to data consumption, followed distantly by Chrome. Sure, I watch an occasional movie on my mobile devices, but I am much more likely to use my television when it comes to using a service like Netflix.

So how about you: How much data do you use on average, and how much of it is on Wi-Fi? What types of services/activities are your own ‘key driver’ when it comes to data usage? Sound off in the comments and be sure to answer our polls as well!

[poll id=”444″]

[poll id=”446″]

  • Nathan Borup

    My google music app is the largest contributor to data usage… i just don’t have enough room on my phone for my whole library of music

    • Andrew Grush

      Yah. I’m in the same boat, only with Spotify. I’ve considered switching to Google Music All Access, but I’ve been happy with Spotify for a long time. I actually have hardly any music outside of what I access from the cloud….. :)

    • Azeem

      That’s why I download music. ;)

      • Nathan Borup

        apparently you didn’t read… I don’t have room on my phone for all my music. I’ve got about 80gb of music and only about 28gb of storage on my phone

      • smokebomb

        Why would that solve his storage problem?

  • Jayfeather787

    Wish I had a data plan. But I would not really use it much, so its ok.

  • Keith Taylor

    data plan wise I have 6 but only use about 3 however everytime I am in an ATT hotspot I sign on.

  • MasterMuffin

    10GB+ almost all used for videos (Youtube and tv series) and mostly on wifi :)

  • fdassf

    i am sorry, this survey makes no sense. it’s just completly uninteresting how much data you consume in a wifi environment. traffic is free and lightning fast.

    also it distorts results. those who use a desktop computer at home “outsource” all the traffic, while those sticking to their phones of course show higher results…

    just mobile network traffic is the truly interesting question.

    • Andrew Grush

      I agree that a poll on just pure cellular data would have been better. That said, I think the idea of the poll is to show in general how people are using their mobile devices — regardless of location. Like when I’m downstairs in my office, I listen to music all day long while working through my PC. When upstairs, I connect my phone to my radio while cleaning and doing other household activities.

      Again, I get what you’re saying though. I certainly use my cellular data very differently from my Wi-Fi data. Away from home its mostly just web browsing and such.

      Anyhow, thanks for the comment! :)

      • American Patriot

        Cellular data usage is more accurate, WiFi is far from this.
        I doubt many are connected via WiFi during an entire day, so data usage rates would be meaningless.
        We prefer to keep our money in our pockets, so wasting data on a carrier’s network is pointless and a absurd.
        Throwing money away just to have unlimited data….A fool’s errand to be sure.

        • smokebomb

          $70 dollars a month unlimited on T-Mobile has saved me from throttling more than once.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            I’m quite happy with 100 GB p/m landline WiFi, 1 GB p/m 4G Advanced, for $A 65 combined. Plenty of video in FHD/1080p, HD movies, tons of software.

      • AA :P

        that was what I had in my mind too. just cellular data is the right use case to be weighed in. at home, I’d simply use my PC/ laptop more than my tablet/ phone. the only time I use my phone or tablet at home is to read or use some search function etc. I use each device according to ease of use, I think most people use it that way too ? (unless they are smitten by the mobile device for a couple of years ? and then it fades too ?)

    • Guest123

      I was going to say, I don’t use much cellular data because I’m around wifi 99.9% of the time. HOWEVER, if cellular data was truly unlimited and as fast as my wifi then I would use it. . . for ~400GB/month :)

      • Ichibanmugen

        last year I managed 200+GB cellular data. I was tethering my phone non stop on my computer as I didn’t have internet at home.

        Now I use between 5 and 15GB per month

    • eye

      Completely agree. Got the same idea.

    • Dominick_7

      Actually it does. Think it’s to show that even when people mix wifi and data usage and get around 6gbs that means Verizon is lying (shock!) about when they say people don’t use more than 2gbs of data per month. If we were to split the 6gbs in half this would mean most go over 2gbs. With larger screen phones/phablets with 1080p and now 2k screens and hd content taking up more data, there’s no way that figure would stay even that low. I use a little over 10gbs per month just from mostly streaming Pandora and then watching some HD Slingbox on some breaks here and there, browsing, and some gaming.

      • stucrmnx120fshwf

        Yup when UD 4k 7″ tablets start arriving late this year, they’ll need 8 times the data of a 720p device. In 30 months they’ll have replaced, even the 480p devices.

  • raynie

    such an idiot poll to include wifi…..

    • Jayfeather787

      That’s why it’s an open thread. It is just to say what you do.

  • Maarten

    I recently picked up a data plan for my phone, but I’m simply astonished by how little data I use. In the past 2 months over wifi and cellular combined 430 MB, and that includes streaming a couple of youtube songs, downloading a serie and social networks.

    In all honesty, only the last month was on Android, the rest was on Symbian. Didn’t make that much of a difference, I used maybe 20 MB more on Android (and that’s probably because of Full HD screen + blazing fast internals keeping me online longer as I am less agitated :P)

  • Kenny Woodard

    I used right at 50gb on my unlimited AT&T plan last month.

    • antiochasylum

      Nothing is unlimited anymore. You get 5gigs on LTE and 3 on hspa. Google it. Even the grandfathered plans.

      • Kenny Woodard

        I am not charged anything for going over. I have unlimited data. It does get throttled after 5gb

        • Roseman Eisen

          As far as I know mine doesn’t get throttled nor do I get charged. And I used 56gigs on my T-Mobile data

          • George

            How much do you pay guys?

          • Roseman Eisen

            I honestly do not know I am a college student still living at home so my mom pays it I do know though that it was only 10 more dollars getting what they call truly unlimited over what I had before which was unlimited and data throttle at 2 gigs. Needless to say I think I am getting my moneys worth

          • George

            Hmm…I see.
            Thanks anyway. :)

          • Roseman Eisen

            No problem sorry I could not completely help. I love my T mobile though

          • Roseman Eisen

            I wanna say for 4 phones 2 with the unlimited with 2 gig throttle mine with truly unlimited and the 4th having 500mb and all phones having unlimited everything else i believe its about 200+ but this is not counting the money we pay for our phones so that is another roughly 100. Plus we are also in a contract still.

          • smokebomb

            $70 unlimited on T-Mobile. I used 33GB one time and never saw a slowdown.

          • JT

            $90 unlimited on sprint. Old evo 4G plan.

          • Derek

            Through T-Mobile my family has 1 unlimited line 2 2.5 GB lines and 1 500 MB line for 140$/Mo then you add in the cost of the phones which can be from 15-25$/Mo per line. Nexus 5 is 16.50/Mo

  • antiochasylum

    1-2. Tops. Use siriusXM in the car, google music on work PC. Just general browsing. No need to use anymore. Oh and no social networking either, that crap is dumb.

  • John-Phillip Saayman

    250 mbs on cellular and 3 gigs on wifi. I pay the same rates for both so I count them together.
    Mostly used by Chrome and secondly the Play Store

  • J_Pod

    I only have a 200MB limit on my grandfathered plan and I hardly ever go over 100MB. Wifi at home, wifi at work, at home, at school, at friends and family’s houses… Why even include it in the poll?

  • Jack Parker

    i only get 1gb per month, and normally go over, so 2gb would be fine

  • samski123

    I wasn’t even sure so I just looked up my phone and last month I used 1gb cellular and 21 gb through wifi. For a total of 22gb. I have a computer and smart TV at home. I would use more cell data if it wasn’t for the plans here in nz

  • SilentPatriot

    100+GB easily. Stream lots of video, audio, and web-browsing.

  • Doug Finlay

    I have to laugh at Maartens comment of little usage. He says he uses only about 400gb in the the last couple of months. I used to be the same until Google+ came along. I switch off all settings on my nexus 4 and it consumes that in a day!!!
    No location, no Wi-Fi etc and my battery plummets nowadays. I only browse and text and whatsapp and NEVER understand such high amounts.

    • stucrmnx120fshwf

      By my calculations, you’re saying you use 12 Terabytes a month, seems to me, I can only download 2GB an hour. So your download speed is well over 10 times mine, have you got fiber optic cable, or something like that. With 1GB/s WiFi ac, but I don’t think g+ is using that much data, even 3G can handle it, Nexus 4 doesn’t have WiFi ac, or 4G Advanced like my Nexus 5. Check your figures again, you may be confusing MB for GB.

  • Doug Finlay

    My bad, that’s 400mb in a day…from G+

  • Winston Purnomo

    I use only about 250-300MB of data…

  • American Patriot

    Phone is used for business and texting quick messages, no need to surf while on the job. I have a computer for that, the phone is my communication tool to stay in contact through. I use under 1 GB of data with the phone,

  • Balraj

    I do everything except streaming
    I even download torrent on my phone
    7gb+ per month :-)

  • tech4life

    50GB on wifi, but only 100mb on mobile data… Maybe I should leave the house more.

  • Brandon Choquette

    I have 2 lines with t-mobile true 4g LTE unlimited data and combined data use every month is average around 75 gigs of use with no throttle mainly because I don’t have internet in my house because I’m always out and about 15 hours everyday. I personally think it’s a waste of money to have a ISP in my house and depend on WiFi because I have had bad experiences with different ISP’s and was left without data in my house countless times. Now I have True unlimited data I don’t have to depend on a ISP’s to troubleshoot my problems that most of the time in the past didn’t get resolved until days later. All I did was root my phone and used the hotspot when I get home and been doing this for quite some time now with no complaints thanks to t-mobile true unlimited data which is blazing fast. In my area on a good day my phone pulls 37mbps down and 30mbps up and on a average 21mbps down and 15mbps up I really don’t think any cell phone company can top those speeds with TRUE unlimited data for the price I pay every month which comes to about $160.00 for my 2 lines. The point to my story is if you feel content with being dependent on searching for wifi everywhere, your home ISP or “UNLIMITED”cell service then good for you but not everyone thinks like me wants to save money with less frustration in the long run…just my opinion…

  • GuestAA

    I use 60 GB/month easily used by streaming videos and movies and only have a 500 MB data plan. I’m too afraid to go over so I only use data for internet and emails. They should really make 50+ GB data plans and make them less expensive. Data plans really do empty your wallet.

    • smokebomb

      They charge us $30 for data when it costs carriers probably 50 cents or less.

  • Ruz

    Its something like this.. we want to use more data but not using it because some things in life are not cheap or its expensive :)

  • smokebomb

    I’m at 22GB WiFi and cell data combined for the last month and a half.

  • n11

    Holy shiskabob, I use less than 1GB a month. I guess if you’re watching movies/tv shows every waking moment you’re commuting to work, waiting for lunch, on the dump, falling asleep in bed, making love, etc…

    Also, wifi=cellular-signal savior? WWWRRROOONNNGGG

  • eye

    Other for me means :
    Internet browing / mailing / IM social networking / VOIP (skype, viber… )
    Movie/video streaming
    PC remote control
    navigation (google map, waze…, public transport schedule)
    Shopping shopping
    Background data sync (backup, photo…)
    Weather forecast

    The list could be as long as the purpose of apps is various.

  • RottenRonnie

    It is a joke that in Australia we can get 80mbps downloads & 50mbps uploads on smartphones but only get 1.5gb data per month yet on home broadband get like me 14mbps downloads &1mbps uploads on 200gb month plans & with that download speed i am in the minority of people with that speed many have much worse . Fast speeds are useless on smartphones that is why most people would use up to 6gbs if they have that whopping amount :( Most of my data on my phone is used when i am away for the day & tethered to my laptop

    • stucrmnx120fshwf

      Like me, you are in the minority, not many people have 4G Advanced, but the max I get is 40 mb/s down, 25 mb/s up standing near the tower. On landline WiFi, I get 10 mb/s down, 2 mb/s up, actual 4G at home is 12 mb/s down, 5 mb/s up. (Nexus 5/32GB, Snapdragon 800, 4G Advanced, 2GB RAM, Adreno 330.)

      • districtjack

        You get 10mbps on a landline??? It must be fiber optics line and not old fashioned 48vDC copper telephone line.

        • stucrmnx120fshwf

          Oh no 10 Mbps is perfectly normal, for landline ADSL 2+, in another place, I used to get 25 Mbps. You have to remember, there are fiber optic backbones everywhere, leading to ADSL 2+ to the home. I don’t even have good fiber optic cable, to the node in my area. For instance if you had fiber to the basement, for apartment buildings, pumped through VDSL, you’d get 50 Mbps. Using coaxial cable like pay TV, you can get 100 Mbps. Also remember on landline you get 100 GB p/m contracts, lately with rebooting all my advanced devices, I’ve been getting 1080p FHD videos.
          That’s Blue Ray quality video, there were some weird outages, so I panicked and worked from scratch, but wowie, 1080p on my Nexus 5, 7, it’s beautiful. Of course I want more, this year 14 nm chips and 7″ UD 4k screens, are bound to come out. At CES 2014, we saw UD android touch screens, using Kit Kat. At CES 2013, we saw a Toshiba 10″ UD tablet prototype. There are some advances to come with 5G, but mobile has trouble competing with landline, unless there are large numbers of smaller trancievers.
          These must be situated in optimum topographical places, to avoid black spots. Congestion is the primary problem, by having good streaming, as much fiber to the home, basement, coax, node (nearer the better,) 5G distributed (again nearer the better.) We will be able to beat the bottlenecks, that inhibit UD 4k, if you look at my Nexus 5, it can download 1GB/s in WiFi ac.
          So juice the backbone, preload flash, a 250 GB probably only costs, $125 these days. Use more 250 GB/s GDDR5 and your good to go with UD, even a UD Blue Ray only uses 50 GB. We’ve seen 128 GB smartphones from China, with qhd screens after all. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this trip, down technobable lane, with Stu.

          • districtjack

            Must be nice to have that kind of speed. In my area of Canada, 54Kbps is available on the telephone landline. That’s why I pay so much for data, I use a cellular modem HSPA which gives me a minimum of 7Mbps and closer to civilization I get LTE at a roaring 20-40 Mbps.

          • stucrmnx120fshwf

            Wow 1990’s dial up modem speed, somebody ought to string fiber optics through your sewers. Stick wireless on electricity, phone, street light poles, traffic lights, houses, railway power systems. If your in the sticks, many infrastructures could be used gas, water pipelines, water towers. Talk to your local government, they’re probably sitting, on a goldmine of cable node sites and access ways. Anything that gets near to your house and has access to 9 feet of elevation, can pump bandwidth like the Amazon river. Even just a road, cover it with dirt, at 1/50 the the price they paid to put it there.

  • Waleed

    0 GB , because we dont have 3G in Palestine :/

    • Ichibanmugen


  • shanos

    bit of torrenting (legal of course) and uploading photos on site (I am a photographer)

  • The Jeffrey

    Dude… SERIOUSLY. It’s merely a simple question. If he wanted to know ONLY your MOBILE DATA USAGE then that would have been the question. Just because YOU think it’s a stupid question does not make it invalid, just makes you a jerk.
    Most people haven’t a clue what “data” even is! It’s a question I’m asked on the regular. So to paint a broad picture of data usage is perfectly valid and a question that needs to be asked so that people that aren’t as “informed” as all of you folks have a better understanding.
    I manage a cell phone retailer. Do you wanna know how many times a DAY I have to explain the difference between Wi-Fi, mobile data, hot spots, and the like? ! ? Enough to make you want to scream I promise you. Especially, with the way some of you freak out over this simple poll.


  • Yusuf

    500 GB max. per month! I’m a data hog.

  • districtjack

    I live in a remote area and there is no ISP per se. I have to use my cellphone as a personal hotspot for my laptop and tablet. My cellphone plan gives me 1GB and each subsequent GB is $10. I take advantage of public WiFi whenever I am in civilization, but I prefer to use my cellular network because I get between 7 and 12 Mbps.

    My average monthly usage is about 12-15 GB and my average bill is $150 per month. That might seem high but I think it is reasonable for nationwide calling and texting with about 10 GB of data. I also get another 4 GB of mobile TV included. Of course I wish I could get unlimited data for the price I am paying, but the poor mobility provider needs the money because it costs them a horrifying 3¢ per Gigabyte to supply me. But I have no complaints about getting 7Mbps on the edge of civilization.

  • Rick jaan

    mine 10gb per week

  • M3D1T8R

    99 GB last month. Almost cracked 100 for the first time. Average around 50. My phone is my only internet (phone WiFi hotspot for my home), normal internet browsing for my wife and I uses around 10, some online gaming can add another 5 to 10, and then adding just an hour or two per day of Netflix streaming in HD, easily pushes the total near 100. I haven’t even started using any cloud music streaming yet so it could be quite a bit higher. I’ll give up my unlimited data on Verizon when they pry it from my cold dead hands. And hopefully by then there will be another decent option available, meaning data treated like any other utility and billed at a reasonable rate, like under $1/GB as it should be (really they could charge ten cents per GB and still make good profits). Unfortunately we have no real competition in the market so it will likely be a long time before we see that. In the mean time I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts, now that I finally can get 4G here at my place way out in the woods as of around six months ago, thanks to my amplifier system. I get around 5 to 6 Mbps now, vs about 0.2 if I was lucky on Verizon’s terrible bloated 3G.

  • Carlos Portillo

    There’s wifi almost everywhere but I got 2 GB and I haven’t gone over yet.


    Well I use in cell data like 2.7 GB but in WIFI like 5GB in music stream or more..
    I do like unlimited data but all cell phone provider lie … like I have 3GB with H2O Wireless and I use wifi when I’m home but I will switching soon to AIO Wireless for 7GB ..