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Unused mobile data costs Brits £3 billion a year

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People in the UK are £260 million out of pocket every month due to unused mobile phone data, according to a report.

The report is from Sky Mobile, and it is calling this the ‘data consumption gap’ – the difference between what you pay out each month for mobile data and what you actually use. It reckons on average people loose 94GB of the data paid for each year, which it has equated to a financial loss of £84 a year per person, and it has further tallied this up to a £3 billion nationwide figure.

Sky Mobile asserts that this overpayment is down to other operators not enabling customers to keep their unused data – which seems to mean monthly data doesn’t automatically get rolled over every month – and also ‘a lack of transparency around how much data customers require to suit their needs.’

The firm serves up some more stats to prove its point – UK customers have on average 44% of their data left over at the end of every month, 39% say they pay for more data just in case they run out, 46% don’ t understand how much usage 1GB equates to, and 52% say they want to spend less on their mobile contract amid rising cost of living.

“At a time where we are all trying to alleviate financial pressures, it’s more important than ever to ensure your mobile contract provides good value,” said Paul Sweeney, Managing Director, Sky Mobile. “We should all be checking our contracts to ensure our mobile provider is giving us the flexibility to evolve as our needs do. Our focus from the beginning has been about creating value and fairness for our customers and this is what we continue to do day in, day out for our three million customers.”

Sky is using the data to springboard into a pitch for what it would argue are more flexible deals on its own service – but it does raise an interesting question about the nature of data tariffs. An alternative to a monthly allowance of data which refreshes each month would be a system in which data rolls over every month – which would mean customers who aren’t using all their allowance then have more in the pot the next month.

Since they weren’t using the monthly cap in the first place this would presumably keep growing and growing until they are sitting on a huge stockpile, while paying out the same amount of money each month for their contract. So it’s not obvious what that would solve, other than having the data stockpiled if there was ever a need to one day download an 8000GB app on the go.

Another option would be some form of metered deal where you only pay for what you use – whether that’s 70p or £400. But this simply isn’t the direction the industry went in when it was working out how to sell mobile internet connectivity, and it would obviously come with its own problems.

The simpler way to solve the ‘data consumption gap’ would seem to be changing to a contract with less data included if you are consistently not using it all – but regardless it’s interesting to wax on the way in which tariffs operate from time to time, especially since many will rely on wifi networks far more than mobile data anyway in the post pandemic world.

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