Ask LH: How Can I Deal With Per-Megabyte Data Measurement On My Mobile Plan?

Ask LH: How Can I Deal With Per-Megabyte Data Measurement On My Mobile Plan?

Dear Lifehacker, I recently switched mobile carriers to Vaya after a price hike on my TPG plan. I’m impressed with Vaya — especially having access to 4G speeds — but data usage being measured in 1MB blocks is becoming a problem. There’s more than a 25 per cent difference in the data output measured by my phone and what Vaya charges for.

How can I make the most out of my data plan when it’s measured in MB? Aside from the obvious tactics — always updating apps on Wi-Fi, avoiding data-using widgets) — are there any tricks to get more out of my data allowance?

Thanks Mega Bites

Measuring picture from Shutterstock

Dear MB,

Charging per MB is an annoyance, but a common one — many plans on the market work this way these days. (Admittedly, it could be worse — at one point Boost calculated usage in 10MB blocks.)

You’ve already identified two of the most useful strategies for dealing with this issue — make use of Wi-Fi whenever you can, and don’t install widgets that constantly poll for new data. If you want to identify which apps are consuming the most data, check out our guide to tracking data usage. If a particular app is consuming a large amount of data, it might make sense to uninstall it (or alter its settings to only use Wi-Fi).

You need to keep a sense of perspective. While it might seem irritating that you’re being charged in this way, it’s only an issue if you’re regularly attracting excess usage charges. If you don’t use up all of your mobile data allowance each month, then the way it’s calculated isn’t really a concern.

If you do regularly overrun, then it may be worth looking around for alternatives. Vaya is one of the few prepaid secondary providers offering Optus 4G, but its data allowances aren’t particularly generous. Its most expensive BYO plan costs $57 a month and offers 3GB of data. For $60 a month, Optus itself will give you 5GB of data on a no-contract plan — and it counts data usage in kilobytes.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • I’m not sure widgets matter that much. If you’re constantly (or very regularly) polling for data you’re likely keeping the session active anyway.

    I recently switched to Amaysim and the same charging block and have been surprised with how little the change to my data use has been. Though on Vaya maybe switching between 3G/4G creates a new session. Perhaps the questioner should try disabling 4G?

  • An alternative is to install a widget which does constantly poll so long as there is an active data connection, and only stops when there is no longer a connection.
    That 1MB only ticks over when your sessions ends, so don’t let the session end =)

    (Note: this is easier said than done, since I don’t know if anyone has actually built an app to do this. I’d like someone to, because it would be a nice way to stick it to Optus and others who charge per-MB block).

  • I was on Vaya’s $33 data sim plan, always found myself going over, that 1MB measuring really took it’s toll on my wallet.

    Their support is also pretty terrible, of course it’s off-shored to a different country all together, let just say they don’t really have a proper training regime for their support staff in place. And don’t believe in headsets, or a mute/hold button, when put on hold, they simply put the receiver down on the desk… no Mute, no nothing.

    I’m now on a month-to-month Optus plan for $1 extra a month than I was originally paying with Vaya. Per KB measuring, a proper call centre for support. Don’t think I will be straying away from the Big 3 again.

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