Everything around you runs on data. Ok, maybe not the cat, but pretty much everything else currently in your home and office is connected — meaning it’s eating up millions and millions of bytes of uploaded and downloaded data every day, usually without you even noticing it.
But, it’s definitely worth thinking about, especially if you’re considering a new service provider. So, let’s look at a typical day in the life of your data.
Did you know that it’s estimated that Netflix and YouTube currently make up over 51% of all Internet traffic in North America? That’s a lot of data.
YouTube data usage depends a lot on the quality and length of the video you’re watching, so we have to guesstimate a little about it. But, a general rule of thumb is that a 720p HD video eats up about 15 MB a minute. (So, on average, a five-minute 720p video can consume about 75 MB of data.) If you like to live in style and watch your videos at 1080p, that’s more like 34 MB/minute. (In that case, a five-minute video will consume 170 MB or more of data.) So, you can be looking at as much as 2 GB an hour for YouTube usage, per user.
When it comes to Netflix, things are a little more predictable. According to the provider, watching your favourite shows and movies will eat up about 0.7 GB per hour for SD (Standard Definition) and 3 GB per hour for HD (High Definition). If clarity is your thing and you like to watch in Ultra HD/4K, that’s about 7 GB per hour.
All of a sudden you get a sense of how many bytes those Walking Dead marathons are eating up. (Bytes? Walking Dead? C’mon…)
Listening to Music
Obviously, listening to audio uses less data than video, but it can add up, given that music is the kind of thing we tend to put on and let run in the background.
Spotify, for example, runs at different bandwidth levels depending on quality (normal quality is about 96 kbps, high-quality 160kbps, extreme quality 320kbps). So, that’s about 141 MB an hour for the best quality music. Google Play Music and Pandora use similar amounts of data.
Connecting to People
Even with the more affordable rates that digital long distance carriers now offer, FaceTime and Skype are a popular way to reach out and connect. There’s something about seeing the person you’re talking to that makes it much more personal. Plus, you can tell if they are checking their Facebook or Twitter feed when they’re talking to you.
If you make a FaceTime video call using your iPhone’s mobile data connection (3G/LTE), it uses data. On a 3G network, a 10-minute video call will use about 30 MB of data, while on an LTE network the same call will use about 25 MB of data. If you’re using FaceTime on an iPad, iPod, or Mac computer, you’re likely on your Wi-Fi network, so data is less of an issue, but it can still add up.
And, when you do start adding it up, it’s shocking how much data the average home or office uses every day. We’ve become dependent on a wide, reliable data pipeline to power our daily lives. It’s become a vital part of modern life, and not something that we should overlook. So, it’s definitely worth it to survey your world and see how much data you’re using every day and choose your Internet plan and provider accordingly.