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Nowadays, it is common for consumers to access the Internet through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Consumers should note that mobile data would be consumed whenever the mobile devices access the Internet through mobile networks.

When Will Mobile Data Be Consumed?

Consumers may access the Internet with desktop computer, notebook computer, tablet and smartphone, etc. Mobile data will be consumed when a mobile device accesses the Internet via mobile networks. Examples of Internet access include uploading and downloading information (e.g. music, videos, document files and apps, etc.), sending and receiving emails, using instant messages services, playing on-line games, using apps / software like social networking and on-line maps, etc. Mobile data will also be consumed when you share your Internet connection (also known as “tethering” or “personal hotspot” function) with other devices for access to the Internet. The automatic update function of some applications on mobile devices also needs to access the Internet and therefore may consume mobile data.

Mobile data usage is usually measured in units known as gigabyte (GB), megabyte (MB) or kilobyte (kB), with -

  • 1GB = 1000 MB
  • 1MB = 1000 kB

How Much Mobile Data Do You Need?

The amount of mobile data a user needs depends on how he or she uses the Internet. Video streaming, music downloading and playing certain online games generally consume more mobile data. For example, watching a one-hour low-definition video and a one-hour high-definition video will consume about 180 MB and 600 MB of mobile data respectively. On the other hand, sending an email without file attachment will consume much less data (about 15 kB of mobile data).

For reference purpose, the table below provides some indication on mobile data consumption for some activities -

Activities Mobile Data Consumed (for reference only)
Send one email (without attachment) 15 kB
Send one email with medium quality compressed photo attachment 300 kB
Upload one social media post with photo 500 kB
Browse one webpage 1 MB
Download one song 4 MB
Watch a one-hour low-definition video 180 MB
Watch a one-hour high-definition video 600 MB

Note : The above examples are based on averages using a smartphone and are estimates only. The actual amount of data consumed for each activity may vary significantly.

The Office of the Communications Authority has provided a data usage calculator for consumers to estimate the amount of mobile data they may need per month.

Keep Track of Mobile Data Usage

Charges of mobile data services are generally based on usage volumes. For monthly service plans, a fixed monthly data usage quota is usually included in the monthly service fee, with additional charges levied on usage exceeding the quota. As such, consumers should keep track of their mobile data usage from time to time. Smartphones usually come with a data service usage counter that consumers may make use of for tracking their mobile data usage. You may refer to "Mobile Bill Shock" for more information on how to avoid unintended mobile data usage.