Monday, 21 November 2016 11:04

Excess data charges cost Aussies $146 million – and that’s just for one year Featured

Excess data charges cost Aussies $146 million – and that’s just for one year Image courtesy of KANATE at

Aussies often use their smartphones to send and receive data, but it has collectively cost them $146 million in excess data charges this year, according to a survey by comparison website Finder.

The newly published survey of 2005 Australians by reveals that the number of smartphone owners regularly exceeding their monthly data cap has doubled in the past 12 months and now sits at 13.4% – equivalent to 2.4 million Aussies.

And, according to finder, this represents an extra $86 million spent on excess data charges from November 2015 to November 2016.

Finder telco expert Alex Kidman says data use is soaring as smartphone owners stream more videos and use data-hungry apps.

“Aussies are increasingly going over their monthly data cap and racking up bills in the hundreds or thousands of dollars,” he says.

“Ultimately, Australians are under-estimating their data consumption and paying for the privilege. Ten dollars — the usual charge for an extra gigabyte of data — might not seem like much but it can quickly add up.”

The finder survey reveals that Gen Y led the charge with one in four (25%) regularly exceeding their monthly data limit, compared to just 11% of Gen X and 3% of Baby Boomers.

There’s some good news, however, with finder revealing thatmore  than one in four savvy smartphone users (27%) regularly monitor their data usage so they don’t go over their limit.

Almost one in three (31%) wait until they get home to use their Wi-Fi instead of wasting data, with women more likely to do so than men, the survey shows.

And, one in 10 Aussies (10%) admit to checking in to fast food restaurants, cafes or shopping centres for free Wi-Fi.

“Free public Wi-Fi is the holy grail for smartphone addicts – some will go to great lengths to find wireless hotspots thanks to their need to be constantly connected,” Kidman concludes.

Here’s some suggestions from finder on how to keep your data costs down:

•    Sign up for real-time download alerts: An SMS warning when customers have reached 50%, 85% and 100% of data included in their mobile phone plan.

•    Change the settings: A good way to curtail excess data use is to change the settings on the data-hungry apps that a lot of us use daily such as Facebook and YouTube. Limit auto play videos and select ‘use less data’ when not near home Wi-Fi.

•    Disable data roaming: If you want to absolutely cut your data roaming costs disable data roaming altogether. Completely killing your mobile data is a nuclear option that won’t appeal to everybody, but simply switching your data off in-between the times you want to actually access some online content can save you from a wealth of hidden data charges as applications make background checks or system updates.

•    Use public Wi-Fi when you can: Publically available Wi-Fi hotspots are becoming more common allowing you easy data access even if you’ve got data roaming disabled. If you have the time, research their locations before you head out to keep yourself online as much as you need for low or no cost.

•    Consider a different plan: If you are consistently spending over your plan, consider upgrading to a higher cost plan-per month. You'll pay more as a set amount, but the data inclusions are typically much cheaper than the excess data fees would be anyway.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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