Check your data usage: You might be paying for too much

Summary:The shared data plan lets me pool a lot of 4G data for use with multiple devices. I pay for a lot of data that I'm discovering I don't use.

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When Verizon launched the Share Everything Plan last year I signed up right away. I use a lot of mobile devices, and often on the 4G network, so the lure of a shared pool of data for one price was too much to pass up. I use 4G data frequently, so I signed up for the 10GB monthly pool to make sure I never go over the limit. Turns out I haven't come close to the cap in 6 months.

JK VZW Data usage

I have three devices on the shared plan with Verizon: iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini. I used the iPhone 4S as my daily phone until picking up the Note 2 on Sprint a couple of months ago. Data usage on the iPhone is now almost nothing.

See also: Verizon offers buckets of data with the Share Everything plan | Verizon Messages app brings text messages to all your tablets  | Exciting work venues for the mobile professional

That's not the case with the two iPads. I use one or both of them every day, often heavily. Sometimes, I use the iPad with a keyboard all day and a lot of that is on 4G. I often use the iPad mini as a mobile hotspot with one laptop or another.

I use a 4G connection at least 3 hours a day, sometimes longer. My favorite coffee shop turned its wi-fi network off three months ago and I now always work there on my 4G connection.

Because I use 4G so heavily, I've assumed my monthly usage was pushing up against the 10GB cap. I hadn't gone over it, so I haven't checked with Verizon for my actual usage until recently. That's when I realized that paying for 10GB may be an extravagance I don't really need.

Looking at my usage statistics over the last 6 months has surprised me. The most data I've used in a month is only 1.48GB. I've averaged a paltry 1.04GB for the last 6 months. That my data usage is so low is shocking, knowing how many hours I use it each day.

My usage is typical, mostly for online activities like web browsing. I watch the occasional YouTube video, but that's the only video stuff I do. I sometimes stream audio from either my Amazon MP3 cloud library or the iTunes cloud library. Audio is not as data-heavy as video, but I thought my usage was much higher for the audio streaming if nothing else.

I pay $100/month for the 10GB cap, and while it's nice not worrying about going over, it's obvious I am paying for too much data. I could safely get by with 4GB or maybe 5GB if I wanted to be absolutely certain I never exceed the cap.

This has shown me that it's a must to regularly check actual data usage with your carrier if you have a shared plan to make sure you're not paying for too much data.

Topics: Mobility, 4G, Verizon

About

James Kendrick has been using mobile devices since they weighed 30 pounds, and has been sharing his insights on mobile technology for almost that long. Prior to joining ZDNet, James was the Founding Editor of jkOnTheRun, a CNET Top 100 Tech Blog that was acquired by GigaOM in 2008 and is now part of that prestigious tech network. James' w... Full Bio

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