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

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.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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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.

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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.

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