Press release:

Data sink: over 143 million gigabytes of mobile data unused by customers every month

  • Mobile customers in the UK are collectively paying for 143 million gigabytes worth of data every month that they don’t use[1]
  • On average, users are wasting 3.4GB of mobile data every month[1]
  • One in five (21%) mobile customers simply don’t know how much data is included in their package[2] – while a quarter (26%) of those with a data package don’t know what they use[3]
  • uSwitch encourages consumers to check their data usage to ensure they’re on a suitable tariff and not wasting data and money.

London, Wednesday 14 February 2018 – Mobile customers in the UK are collectively paying for 143 million gigabytes worth of data every month that they don’t use[1], according to new research by uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

The research suggests that a huge number of mobile users are in packages where the data allowance is too big for their needs – and at the end of every month, mobile customers are sitting on an average of 3.4GB of data that is essentially going to waste[1].

The issue is worse among the younger – often thought of as more tech-savvy – age group where the average 18-34 year old is paying for 7.5GB of data but typically only uses 3.6GB a month[5].

Confusion is adding to the issue – a fifth (21%) of mobile customers are unaware of how much allowance is included in their package[2]. Concerningly, this rises to a quarter (26%) of over 55s who don’t know what they are paying for in their contracts[2]. Older mobile users who pay for a tariff that includes data are also far more likely (32%) than the average customer (26%) to be in the dark about how much data they are using[3].

Over a third (36%) of mobile customers who have data built into their contracts don’t keep track of their mobile internet usage – 5% of those either didn’t know they could do this at all or don’t know how to[4]. Conversely, one in seven (15%) of those with a data package keep track of their data by looking on provider apps, 13% check their phone settings, 9% look online at the account website while 8% check their bill when it comes through at the end of the month[4].

With so many customers not keeping track of their data usage, there’s a concern that the third (31%) of customers with data in their packages that are using less than 1GB of data every month are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com says: “No one wants to go over their data allowance. However, in a bid to prevent over-spending and with so many contracts on the market now offering sizeable data bundles, customers can easily fall into the trap of thinking they need more than they’re actually going to use.

“By overpaying for data you don’t use or need, you’re not only wasting money, but you could unintentionally be cancelling out the value of any perks or freebies bundled into the tariff as an ‘extra’.

“It’s worth taking an average of your usage over a few months so you can see what type of package best aligns with your needs. There are now a number of ways that you can monitor how much you’re consuming every month – from apps like Walletsaver which analyse usage in real-time and provider-owned apps to simply checking usage in your settings.

“Work out roughly how much data you need – and for added peace of mind, you can always add a slight buffer. You can also set data usage warnings or a cap to make sure you’ll not go over your limit.

“For customers whose usage varies significantly each month, providers are increasingly offering packages that allow customers to adjust how much data they are using on a month-by-month basis, or carry a proportion over into subsequent months.

“These flexi or ‘roll-over’ contracts give users a degree of control over what they are spending each month, but a word of warning: they often require customers to actively update their usage at the end of each month.”

For more information on how to check your data usage, visit: https://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/guides/how-to-limit-your-data-usage-stop-overspending/

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

— ends —

Notes to editors

uSwitch.com surveyed a sample of 5,603 online interviews with UK adults who have either Home Broadband or a Mobile Phone from the 18th December to 2nd January. 5,084 are Mobile users.

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘How much data is included in your package?’ The mean response was ‘5.9’ GB. Respondents who have data in their package were asked: ‘How much data do you typically use per month?’ The mean response was ‘2.5’GB.

Calculation: 5.9 – 2.5 = 3.4GB There are 51,767,000 adults in the UK. 94% have mobile phones = 48,660,980 (https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/facts).

87% have data included in their package = 42,334,287

42,334,287 x 3.4 = 143,881,232 GB wasted a month

  1. Respondents were asked: ‘How much data is included in your monthly package?’ The net response for ‘I don’t know’ was 21%. The net response for over 55s for ‘I don’t know’ was 26%
  2. Respondents who have data in their package were asked: ‘How much data do you typically use per month’ The net response for ‘I don’t know’ was 26%. The net response for over 55s for ‘I don’t know’ was 32%
  3. Respondents who have data in their package were asked: ‘How do you monitor your data usage each month’ The net response for ‘N/A – I don’t monitor my own data’ was 31%, ‘I look on my provider app’ was 15%, ‘I look in my phone settings’ was 13%, ‘Online on my account website’ was 9%, ‘I check my monthly bill’ was 8%, ‘I don’t know how to check my data usage’ was 3%, ‘I didn’t know you could do this until now’ was 2%
  4. Respondents were asked: ‘How much data is included in your package?’ The mean response for 18-34 year olds was ‘7.5’ GB. Respondents with data in their package were asked: ‘How much data do you typically use per month?’ The net response for 18-34 year olds was ‘3.6’ GB
  5. Respondents who have data in their package were asked: ‘How much data do you typically use per month?’ The net response for ‘Up to 1GB’ was 31%

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.

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