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The innocuous commuting habit costing Aussies $181 million

Lucy Dean
Image: Getty
Image: Getty

If you look around on your train, bus or ferry home you’ll notice one big thing. Some of us are listening to music, others watching Netflix. The more studious are checking emails or reading the news while the rest (including myself) are scrolling through Instagram.

The one thing we have in common? Data usage.

Around 2.8 million Australians or 15 per cent regularly exceeded their mobile data limit in the last 12 months, a new report from has found, and it’s costing us $181 million.

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“Many Aussies will notice that they have outgrown their data needs. ABS statistics show that we chewed through 246,765 terabytes of data on our smartphones between April to June,” finder tech expert, Alex Kidman said.

“Between watching videos, streaming music and the endless allure of social media, we’re consuming more data than ever before.”

The average Australian is on a 10GB data plan, up from 6GB last year. And, over the last 12 months, the number of Australians on plans with more than 21GB has nearly doubled.

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Telcos also began introducing unlimited data plans in May this year, prompting smaller providers to boost their data allowances.

This could explain the 30 per cent drop in the number of Australians regularly exceeding their plan.

“If you’ve been on the same plan for two to three years, it’s absolutely time to start shopping around for a better deal. A little can go a long way when upping your monthly data allowance,” Kidman said.

“Many Aussies stick with the same provider but the reality is loyalty doesn’t pay off.”

Break it down for me
Image: Finder
Image: Finder
Is unlimited really unlimited?

Kind of.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in September found Optus, Vodafone and Telstra had used the word “unlimited” to describe mobile plans.

However, this wasn’t quite right, with the companies imposing speed caps of 1.5Mbps after users hit a certain threshold, or on particular downloads.

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For reference, the average 4G download connection speed in Australia is 33.76Mbps – a lot faster than 1.5Mbps.

Since the decision, the three telcos have stopped describing their plans this way, the ACCC noted.

“It is about time [telcos] showed more respect for their customers and the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC chair, Rod Sims said.

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“With much higher penalties now available for breaches of consumer law, I hope they will take their obligations more seriously.”

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