Media Release

Data disaster: Australia’s $146 million bill shock

  • Aussies spend an extra $86 million in excess data charges in the last 12 months
  • More than 2.4 million Aussies regularly exceed their monthly data cap
  • Practical tips to keep your data costs down

21 November, 2016, Sydney, Australia -- Australians have collectively racked up $146 million in excess data charges this year, according to, Australia’s most visited comparison website1.

The new survey of 2,005 Australians found the number of smartphone owners regularly exceeding their monthly data cap has doubled in the past 12 months and now sits at 13.4%2 -- equivalent to 2.4 million Aussies.

This represents an extra $86 million spent on excess data charges from November 2015 to November 2016.

Alex Kidman, Telco expert at, says data use is soaring as smartphone owners stream more videos and use data-hungry apps.

“Aussies are increasingly going over their monthly data cap and racking up bills in the hundreds or thousands of dollars,” he says.

“Ultimately, Australians are underestimating their data consumption and paying for the privilege. Ten dollars – the usual charge for an extra gigabyte of data – might not seem like much but it can quickly add up.”

Gen Y led the charge with one in four (25%) regularly exceeding their monthly data limit, compared to just 11% of Gen X and 3% of Baby Boomers

But it’s not all bad news, with more than one in four savvy smartphone users (27%) regularly monitoring their data usage so they don’t go over their limit.

Almost one in three (31%) wait until they get home to use their Wi-Fi instead of wasting data, with women more likely to do so than men.

One in 10 Aussies (10%) admit to checking-in to fast food restaurants, cafes or shopping centres for free Wi-Fi.

“Free public Wi-Fi is the holy grail for smartphone addicts – some will go to great lengths to find wireless hotspots thanks to their need to be constantly connected,” says Mr Kidman.

How to keep your data costs down
Sign up for real-time download alerts: An SMS warning when customers have reached 50 per cent, 85 per cent and 100 per cent of data included in their mobile phone plan.
Change the settings: A good way to curtail excess data use is to change the settings on the data-hungry apps that a lot of us use daily such as Facebook and YouTube. Limit auto play videos and select ‘use less data’ when not near home Wi-Fi.
Disable data roaming: If you want to absolutely cut your data roaming costs, disable data roaming altogether. Completely killing your mobile data is a nuclear option that won’t appeal to everybody, but simply switching your data off in-between the times you want to actually access some online content can save you from a wealth of hidden data charges as applications make background checks or system updates.
Use public Wi-Fi when you can: Publically available Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more common allowing you easy data access even if you’ve got data roaming disabled. If you have the time, research their locations before you head out to keep yourself online as much as you need for low or no cost.
Consider a different plan: If you are consistently spending over your plan, consider upgrading to a higher cost plan-per month. You'll pay more as a set amount, but the data inclusions are typically much cheaper than the excess data fees would be anyway.

Methodology: With approximately 18 million adults3 in Australia, 13.4% represents 2.4 million smartphone users. If all these users go over their data cap by just 1GB for six months of the year, estimates Aussies are spending a combined bill of $146 million for excess charges4.

1 Experian Hitwise 2015
2 5.6% Australians exceeded their monthly data cap in 2015
3 2015 ABS Population over 18 years of age
4 Based on major telcos charging $10/GB for every extra GB


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The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on's review pages for the current correct values.

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