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

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.

TOPICS: Mobility, 4G, Verizon
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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

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  • Verizon is allowing you to Hotspot ALL your devices

    One not so hidden feature is the use of the mobile hot spot. If you have an Android device you can activate the mobile hot spot feature and use some of that 10gigs of data for your laptop or other Wifi only devices. so when Verizon says everything, they mean everything.
  • Date usage

    It often surprises me how data people claim to use on forums and on tech blogs, since I too find I rarely use much more than 1GB per month and have 5GB at my disposal (pooled like yours).

    That said, it's certainly handy to have it on the road when I need to upload a file to a client or download footage for an on-site edit.
    Mitchell Oke
  • Checked my usage since joining the shared plan...

    Same thing.
    I signed up for 4GB of shared data for my wife and I. I stream music through sound cloud a lot on the road. I figured I would eat through a healthy amount of data. Wrong. I average about as much as James does. But the bill is still cheaper than what I was paying before so I am not too concerned about it right now.
  • Until now

    Before selecting a 1GB shared plan when I got my wife and I matching phones last summer, I audited my past 2 years data consumption at T-Mobile. The highest was 600 MB, mostly it was under 500 MB. I figured with some attention to detail, my wife and I could get by with 1 GB shared when she came to the US in October.

    That worked fine...I got 50% notices often the last day of the cycle. Until now. She's been working...and downloading lots of pictures on FB at the same time. We blew past the cap with 2 weeks yet to go. If this is going to be a habit, we'll have to consider upping the plan.
  • Chrome book makes a difference

    I have found that since getting a Chromebook my usage has doubled. Does everything I need it to do, but does consume lots of data.
  • Need to look at the whole plan

    I have the AT&T shared 10GB data plan. But I picked that size plan because it hits the lowest price for each added device, not because of how much we use. We normally use around 1GB or maybe less, but if I dropped to a lower plan my per-device rate would go up and it would not save anything.

    On a recent vacation trip, my son was watching a lot of YouTube on his phone on 4G, not wi-fi, and that really chewed up the bandwidth. By wife and daughter watching whole netflix movies used a lot less bandwidth. YouTube must be using some inefficient compression. I actually had to curtail his video watching to avoid going over the 10GB that month. So I was glad to have it.
    • Netflix is not HD

      Netflix will lower video quality when there not enough bandwidth, also their movies are not HD quality. Youtube will sometime default to HD depending on a user's profile setting.
  • Data usage

    I have three phones on my plan. One is an iPhone 4, the second an iPhone 4S, and the last an iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 has an unlimited (ATT) plan, and the 4S has 300MB, and the 4 200MB. I never use more than 200MB on the iPhone 5, and the 4S has never been close to the 300MB. So, why do I pay for all that bandwidth I don't use? Because I don't want to worry about using my phones, when, where, and as, I wish. As long as I can afford it, I will continue to pay for the unlimited plan, even though I don't expect to ever exceed 200-300MB in a month. It isn't so much paying by the byte, as paying to not worry about using my phones.
  • Use it or loose it!

    Why the arbitrary one month for data? I would pay for a years worth of data in advance if I could use the bytes any time during the year. Some months I use more than others. Another alternative is rollover bytes where bytes you paid for but didn't use in one month would be carried over to the next month. It really irks me to have to guess how many bytes I am going to use and pay for them only to have them taken away from me if I don't use them. To get the telcos to be fair maybe everyone, on the last day of the billing month, start a movie in order to use up the bytes rather than loosing them!
  • Really?

    Pay first and then measure? For how long?
    How many phones could that $100/month buy?
    Is it any wonder the cellphone companies dictate to their customers.
  • Wi-fi

    What kind of coffee shop turns off wi-fi??!!