Almost half of mobile users regularly blow their data limits

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Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer Survey 2017 finds that our desire to be constantly connected and continuously consuming is leading to data-plan blowouts, hidden costs and more people switching operators.

“We’re more connected than ever before, but we still want more,” said report author, TMT Partner and Leader of Deloitte’s Strategy Consulting practice, Monitor Deloitte, Jeremy Drumm, in response to the findings of the fourth edition of Deloitte’s annual Mobile Consumer Survey.

Not only does the majority of the population (88 per cent) now own a smartphone, but we also expect to be connected at all times. We are now looking at our phones 560 million times a day, equating to more than 35 glances a day per person.

Seventy per cent of survey participants admitted to using their phone while they were eating and 35 per cent jump on their phone within five minutes of waking up. Almost 70 per cent of 18-24 year-olds acknowledge that they use their phone too much, with half of those attempting to limit their usage. However, only one in five are succeeding.

“Bigger data plans and increasingly available free wifi hotspots are facilitating our connected way of life, although not sufficiently according to our research,” Mr Drumm said.

“The number of people streaming content and watching live TV on phones has tripled since 2016, with 25 per cent of 18-34 year-olds watching live TV on their smartphones weekly.”

But this trend does have a knock-on effect, with 43 per cent of Australians “fairly often” or “very often” exceeding monthly data limits. The survey highlighted that those on 3-5GB plans are twice as likely to exceed their limits as those with 500MB or less of data.

“Our research found that the number of new phone users with a data limit over 10GB has doubled since last year,” Mr Drumm said. “And 60 per cent of new plans bought in 2017 had a limit exceeding 3GB. Plus, wifi continues to be the most frequently used data connection for 63 per cent of us – a big jump up from 49 per cent in 2016. And yet people are still regularly blowing limits, resulting in consumers paying about $30 million a month extra to their operator.”

At the time of the survey, Australian consumers did not have access to an unlimited data plan, despite almost 40 per cent of respondents listing this as an important feature when selecting an operator.

“The desire for more data and for better-quality coverage is trumping all other requirements and leading people to switch operators more than ever before,” Mr Drumm said. “Eighteen per cent of those surveyed had switched operators in the past two years and this figure was higher – 24 per cent – among 18-22 year-olds.”