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Brits waste 3.4GB of data a month: how to avoid overpaying

Mobile phone users across the country are paying for data they’ll never use, according to a uSwitch study on phone bills. Figures collected by uSwitch show that the average UK mobile phone owner pays for 3.4GB of extra data every month – that’s data you don’t need. See below for more on the study and take a look at our top tips on how to avoid bill shock.

Best mobile phone networks[1] – our verdict on the biggest providers.

Are you paying for data that you don’t use?

A fear of exceeding data limits has seen phone users buying contracts that offer more data than they need. According to uSwitch, mobile customers in the UK are collectively paying for a whopping 143 million gigabytes of unused data each month. The same study says that one in five smartphone users don’t know how much data comes included in their contact, while a third of over-55s with a monthly plan don’t know how much data they’re using.

But it’s not just older smartphone users that aren’t fully clued up. uSwitch says that the average 18- to 34-year-old pays for 7.5GB of data every month but uses less than half of that (3.6GB).

Which? members on mobile data

The uSwitch findings reflect our own. We surveyed over 1,000 Which? members on mobile data to see what they knew about their phone contracts.

32% of the people we spoke to didn’t know how to keep track of their mobile data at all, and 71% of respondents admitted they didn’t know the cost of using data outside of their monthly allowance. In addition, 50% said they were concerned about receiving an unexpectedly high bill each month, and nearly a third were concerned about exceeding their bundle.

To prevent this from happening, Which? readers are going to some lengths to avoid ‘bill shock’.

Using wi-fi for calls and internet browsing is the most popular solution to avoiding bill shock, with 57% of the votes. But while this can be a good habit to get into, it’s not a great way to make the most of your mobile phone.

41% of Which? members took the more extreme route of turning mobile data off completely, while 26% prefer to stick to landline calls and 10% admitted to turning their phone off completely. One of the biggest benefits of mobile phones is their versatility, something that’s being curtailed by a fear of overpaying.

But if you’re tracking your data usage on a regular basis from your smartphone, you needn’t be concerned.

How to keep track of your data and minutes

The uSwitch survey suggests that erring on the side of caution – that is, opting for more data than you might need – is a safer proposition. But when we asked Which? readers why they hadn’t increased their contracted package, a substantial 63% said they didn’t want to increase the size of their bill. Combined with an effective way to monitor mobile data usage, this could be the best approach.

Armed with that information, you can find a mobile contract that suits you perfectly and saves you money. After all, you don’t want to be spending big on a contract that offers far more than you need it to. Our guide on how to keep track of your data and minutes[2] tells you everything you need to know.

Are you better off with a different provider?

If you’re already adept at keeping track of your usage but still find it a struggle to manage your bills, you might be better off haggling or even switching provider.

Our recent research into customer loyalty found that two thirds of hagglers received a discount on their bill, amounting to GBP6 per month, on average. It’s especially important to haggle if your initial contract period is up: since you’ve paid off your handset at this stage, a monthly bill for usage should be considerably less. Our guide on how to haggle for the best mobile phone deal[3] can help.

If haggling doesn’t work, it might be time to switch.

There’s often little benefit to loyalty when it comes to providers, so it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting a deal that’s good value and well suited to your needs.

Our mobile provider reviews[4] can reveal important factors such as value for money, but also customer service, how easy they are to contact and additional incentives.

References

  1. ^ Best mobile phone networks (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ how to keep track of your data and minutes (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ how to haggle for the best mobile phone deal (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ mobile provider reviews (www.which.co.uk)

Free Sony PlayStation 4 bundled with Sony Xperia phones on Sky Mobile contracts

Sky is bundling a free 500GB Sony PlayStation 4 Slim[1] with selected Sony Xperia phones on 12 and 24 month contracts. Anyone getting a Sony Xperia XZ Premium, XZ1, XZ1 Compact or Xperia XA2 on contract on a Swap plan will be eligible for this freebie bundle, which also includes a single DualShock 4 controller and a copy of GT Sport, from today, the 16th of February ’til Thursday the 15th of March. Sky Mobile’s Swap plans are for those locked into the upgrade cycle; they let you upgrade for free every year, regardless of whether you sign up for 12 or 24 months.

The cheapest deals however only give you 500MB of data to burn through, so we’ve rounded up the deals which come with a more roomy monthly data rate:

While these plans are open to everyone, Sky TV subscribers automatically get GBP10 off.

To further sweeten the deal, Sky’s also throwing in a Sky Store voucher – essentially free movies to stream on your Xperia phone[2].

References

  1. ^ free 500GB Sony PlayStation 4 Slim (uk.pcmag.com)
  2. ^ to stream on your Xperia phone (play.google.com)

Uno launches up to 330Mbps G.fast broadband pilot

How does getting triple digit download speeds over a BT phone line sound? Uno is seeking trialists to take part in a pilot scheme for two G.fast-based ultrafast broadband services, which promise top download speeds of 160Mbps and 330Mbps. These will set you back GBP34.95/month and GBP39.99/month (plus VAT) respectively, plus GBP97 for installation and set-up, and an Openreach G.fast modem.

Line rental isn’t included in the price, though this can be added for an extra GBP9.99/month. As it’s a trial scheme, the small print says that Uno may cancel within 30 days’ notice, despite there being a 12 month minimum contract. The pilot scheme is also only available in selected areas, which Uno’s listed here on its Facebook page[1].

Price-wise, that’s a little better per month than what BT’s offering[2], though as ISP Review[3] notes, you won’t get any nice extras thrown in like BT WiFi, guaranteed speeds of 100Mbps at all times, 1000GB’s worth of online storage.

That said, the Sheffield-based ISP also offers 24 hour support Monday to Friday, secures customer accounts with one time passwords or YubiKey[4] and is also a corporate sponsor of privacy and digital rights advocates the Open Rights Group[5], all good signs that Uno takes the handling of its customers’ data seriously.

References

  1. ^ listed here on its Facebook page (www.facebook.com)
  2. ^ that’s a little better per month than what BT’s offering (uk.pcmag.com)
  3. ^ ISP Review (www.ispreview.co.uk)
  4. ^ YubiKey (www.yubico.com)
  5. ^ Open Rights Group (www.openrightsgroup.org)

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