Excess data costs Australia $146 million a year

Angus Kidman 21 November 2016

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Our big addiction to data means big bucks for telcos.

For mobile plans, data is the key differentiator these days, since almost everyone offers unlimited calls and texts. So how much does it cost when we go over those limits?

The team at finder.com.au crunched the numbers, based on a survey of 2,005 people which found that 13.4% regularly exceed their data cap. That's more than double the level of a year ago, and equates to 2.4 million adult Australians. If we assume that those customers go over by 1GB in six months of the year and pay the industry standard $10/GB for the excess, that adds up to $146 million each year.

Some research says the problem is even worse. Roy Morgan surveys suggest that 20% of us regularly exceed our data limits. Special occasions such as the Olympics can see usage soar. And given that you don't have to be an adult to have a mobile, the figures are likely to be higher.

That said, excess charges are not the bugbear they once were. Yes, it sucks if you go over on the second-last day of your contract and end up paying for a whole extra GB when you just needed 50MB to get through. But that's still better than being charged by the megabyte and ending up hundreds of dollars over. To pull that trick these days, you generally need to be overseas and using roaming in a foolish way.

If you do regularly go over your limit, it makes sense to upgrade to a plan offering 10GB or more of data each month. Experience tells us that the faster our connections, the more data we churn through. With 5G connections looming in the not-too-distant future, that kind of plan may soon become the norm.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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