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The impact of session rounding on mobile data costs

Mobile data is an important resource in our connected lives, but one that is challenging to estimate when selecting a mobile plan. Our mobile data use can vary significantly from month to month depending on many factors such as access to Wi-Fi when at home or work and use while commuting. Another factor that many do not consider is the impact of data session rounding.

Some data plans record the data session size and round up to the next megabyte (MB). While this may not appear to be significant, particularly if coupled with a low cost plan, it can form a significant proportion of the amount of data billed. For example, this means that a 10 kilobyte (KB) data session for an email push will result in a 1MB usage or charge applied to your bill.

This research studies the impact of megabyte session rounding based on the observation of more than 20,000 data sessions. The key observation was:

  • The range of scaling factors – the multiple of the billed data to that of the actual data used after session sizes are rounded up – was 1.01 to 5.2, with a median of 1.3.

Download: pdfMegacharge Report1.58 MB

Download: docxMegacharge Report.docx777.33 KB