The Average Australian Only Downloads 6GB A Month

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If you’re a Lifehacker reader, chances are you often reach the end of the month and curse the fact that you’ve chewed through your download limit. Statistically speaking, however, that makes you an exception to the rule. New data suggests the average Internet user Australian downloads less than 6GB a month.

According to research from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), in the December 2010 quarter a typical Internet subscriber using ADSL or cable accessed just 17.5GB — less than 6GB for each month. (Unsurprisingly, usage on mobile broadband is a lot lower, at just over 0.5GB each month, though 3.7 million Australians now have access to a mobile broadband service.)

Those figures remind us yet again providers can afford to offer high download limits on their services — the vast majority of people won’t go anywhere near the limits. Lifehacker has long maintained that anything less than 2GB is a bad idea because OS updates can chew all that data up, but it looks like 10GB a month would cover many Australian households. Would it cover yours?



  • I live rural, so I need to use a 3G modem/router for the household. The max we can get is 12GB, and we break that limit every month. And I’m definitely dreading the Lion upgrade … What a dumb idea using only the Mac App Store; grumble, grumble …

  • If the average is in fact only 6GB / month, then this just shows how much the ISPs are ripping us off by making us have: a) Quotas, b) Peak/Offpeak times.

    Try explaining our ISP system to someone in the USA and maybe mention the speeds too.


  • To be honest, I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what my household (with just my wife and I as regular users) averages. I do know that we regularly met or exceeded our 10+10GB peak/off-peak allowance, but since doubling that limit on a higher plan, we seldom come close to being shaped.

  • I still haven’t seen any compelling evidence to substantiate what people are actually using 100gb a month on – surely it’s not all legit content?

    • Most of my download usage (100gb peak/100gb off peak, the bulk of which gets used) is spent on getting TV shows that either don’t air here or are heavily delayed.

      On top of that, live streams of Starcraft 2, Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom tournaments and heavy YouTube use (both uploading and downloading) will chew up whatever is left.

      Basically, whatever download limit we have, we will use in my house.

    • With all these Steam sales i’m constantly downloading games. Like Saints Row 2 was 11Gb there’s one tenth of my quota. I also download my friends Steam games for them, since they’re on stupid data plans like 20GB (10 on & 10 off peak) kinda crap.

  • Sounds about right.
    For everyone I know that uses 50Gb+ per month I probably know a dozen others that would be lucky to go over 2Gb if it wasn’t for the constant Windows Updates.

  • We generally use about 12-15GB per month in my household. I use it primarily for remote access to VPN and my better half runs a home business. We YouTube, audio stream etc. but we don’t torrent or leech.

  • I was on 100gb plan and going over constantly without even trying, now on unlimited. Most of my workmates don’t even have an Internet connection and they’re all under 30.

  • Switched to unlimited, now I don’t need to even think about it, I used to have to plan out the months usage as to not go over the quota. I need to enjoy it while I can as I can as the NBN is just around the corner – super fast downloads with a super ridiculous price and guaranteed to have download limits once again.
    While we are busy building one of the worlds best infrastructures, the rest of the world is enjoying cheap high speed download cap free internet the way it should be.

    • Personally, I prefer if there’s a limit in writing. ‘Unlimited plans’ are rarely unlimited, and ISPs/Telcos have a history of changing their minds after the date.

      If they set the limit to, say, the amount you can theoretically download in a month (24mb dsl line * 60 * 60 * 24 * 31 / 8 == a tad over 8tb), I’d be far more likely to go with them.

      Of course, that probably means I’m just not their target market.

  • I download plenty of paid-for material online. Ever heard of Bandcamp? Best music selling site ever – choice of codec, tagged files (as in ID3), tagged artists, albums and tracks (as in tag-cloud tags)… So of course I always download lossless (FLAC) and that is naturally a lot of data.

    Plus the fact that Windows updates always come from MS’s servers, so that each of the 5 Windows PCs in my house has to download the same data instead of doing the logical thing and sharing it (like Blizzard’s game updater since the World of Warcraft era).

  • I have an unlimited data plan because the 500gb plan wasn’t enough.

    I have 2gb on my phone plan, and I go through that every month, despite my phone spending most of its time on wifi.

    In other words, I use more than 6gb on my phone alone, let alone my desktop. I downloaded about 10gb *yesterday*. And that was a slow day.

  • I easily go over my limit, I’m only on a 100GB cap but reach it within a week. Looking at upgrading my 30Mbps cable to [email protected] as it seems like reasonable value.

    My phone usually sits at about 100MB a month as I use my wifi when I’m home and get no reception elsewhere.

  • Just to clarify, it looks to me (with my very limited reading comprehension) that this is 6GB per month per average subscription, as opposed to per average person.

    Which is even skinnier when you think of four+ member families sharing a subscription…

  • Interesting, but not surprising. Facebook, email and the odd google search do not take up a huge amount of bandwidth so 6GB on average makes sense.

    I suspect that once Netflix gets its act together (or I should say once the movie publishers allow them to) things will change quite rapidly.

    In general I am at about 150gb a month as I toss virtual machines and large codebases back and forth to the US. Ah the joys of telecommuting.

  • 200GB a month for me, and I use ALL of it!

    Glad to see I’m not average either 🙂

    But if the ISP’s rolled back to their 1990’s plans, there’d be a revolution!

  • This is the first time I’ve used my download limit in ages, I usually use close to my 50gb/m by the very end. All those damn free ps3 games, 7 days of dialup speed left. D:

  • I have a 200GB plan and I typically use about 80 a month for my household with 4 people.
    My mobile data I normally use about 150-180MB a month as most of the time i am connected to wifi (both at home and at uni)

  • Wow. I go through 150gb and then a lot more on unmetered services. My mates use similar amounts and I can’t imagine that little use in a month.

    6gb is a day.

  • my family used to destroy 150GB a month but now since we upgraded to unlimited we download as much as we want, most of the downloads goes to playing on the PS3

  • between the entire house hold we use a good 20GB a month, though it would average out to around the projected 15-17GB.
    some months though it will drop to around 8GB
    the bigger issue for me is speed, and I have used ADSL 2 and Cable with unsatisfying results
    I am puzzled how Berrie is able to use 3G in a rural location, most rural areas I’ve been and I have been up and down the country, has the worst 3G reception, so if they have it good on em, ADSL in those areas is not much better.
    given how “important” the internet has become to business these days, it amazes me that the entire nation is not covered with ADSL 2 already. rather sad really when you consider the profit loss these companies are facing by not upgrading the entire system

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