What is data and how is it measured?

In this article you will learn what data is and how it's measured when you use your internet at home or on your mobile phone or tablet.

What is data?

Data is the information or content you browse or search, read, send or receive on the internet. It includes emails, photos, news articles, videos, movies and online games you play. 

So, everything you access on the internet comes to you on your device in the form of data that can be measured. 

To use data, your device must be able to connect to the internet like your computer or laptop. For example, it needs to be a smart TV or a smart mobile phone or tablet.

How is data measured?

Just like we use units of measurement for weight – like grams and kilograms - data is measured in units called megabytes (MB).

Most activities on the internet use small amounts of data or just a few megabytes at a time. When data reaches 1000 megabytes it is called a gigabyte (GB).

Home internet plans usually come with unlimited data. 

Mobile data plans come with different amounts of data or GB per month, anything from 2GB to 400GB. 

Good to know

It's a good idea to set up your mobile phone to automatically connect to your home internet Wi-Fi when you're home so you have more data to use when you're out and about. If you're a Telstra customer, find out how to connect your mobile phone to your home internet Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can check your mobile phone's user manual to find out how to turn off your mobile data and connect to your home internet Wi-Fi.

What does 1GB of mobile data give you?

  • Browse the internet for around 12 hours
  • Watch up to two hours of standard-definition video
  • Listen to around 18 hours of music streaming 

You can find more information in the article What content uses the most data?

Is my data use being tracked?

Your internet provider can track how much data is coming to your home or mobile devices. Don't worry, they can't see what the data is made up of, just how much data – i.e. how many megabytes or gigabytes you are using. For example:

Mobile plan data 

If you have a mobile plan with a data allowance of 2GB, and you've used 1GB before the end of the month, you will most likely get an alert from your provider to let you know. If you're a Telstra customer, you can set up notifications in the My Telstra app to receive an email or SMS when you reach 50%, 85% and 100% of your data allowance.

Home internet plan data

If your home internet plan has unlimited data, but your data usage is excessive - i.e. if you have multiple users on multiple devices all streaming high-definition content, for example - then your provider may slow your internet speed down for the remainder of the month.

This is because providers, like Telstra, subscribe to a FairPlay Policy that aims to make strong reliable internet available to all users. Each provider has a limited bandwidth. Slowing down excessive use allows the limited bandwidth your provider has, to be used more fairly.

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