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How much data do I really need?

With the advent of social media, mobile gaming and instant messaging, data usage for mobile phone users has certainly grown. But do you need an unlimited data plan? Can it really be necessary? Let’s take a closer look at some advantages and disadvantages.

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You won’t be hit with unexpected data charges

Many people opt for an unlimited data option for a number of reasons. High on the list, however, is that an unlimited data contract means that you won’t suddenly get an unexpected billing surprise. This is especially true in an instance where you let all your apps update by themselves, for example, using much of your data plan without you even knowing. Whenever you go over your data limit, your service provider will continue to give data to you, but at the premium rate, which can be exorbitant.

Data isn’t really unlimited anyway

Many unlimited data plans actually are not unlimited at all.  This doesn’t mean you will have to pay the extra fees discussed above, but the data is certainly not endless and you won’t just be able to download as you see fit. Why? Well, many contracts will include a ‘fair usage’ policy, often included in the fine print. This means your service provider can severely throttle your downloads or even cut them in extreme cases should they suspect you are abusing the data.

Unlimited data is on the way out

You might find it difficult to find an unlimited data package as many service providers are simply dropping this from their offerings. Why? Well as data channels get busier, they also get slower. People with unlimited data packages often try to take advantage of them and instead of having other customers complain about slow speeds, service providers would rather just drop the unlimited data option.

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Unlimited data can lead to savings in certain circumstances

For normal smartphone users, data usage of between 2 gigs to 4 gigs should be sufficient for all your needs. On the other hand, should you be someone who makes use of streaming services, either music or video, then you can actually save by using an unlimited data plan? With unlimited data, you can also use your phone as a data point for other devices in your house, such as a table or laptop. Remember, laptops will use a fair more amount of data than a smartphone so only consider tethering if you have an unlimited data plan.

So unless you can find a very specific reason why you need unlimited data, it just is not necessary. In fact, you probably will never use enough data to even justify signing up for an unlimited data package. If you are unsure, use the data counter on your mobile phone for a month to give you a fair idea of how much you actually use and make your decision from there.