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1 in 7 mobile phone data users don’t know their monthly data allowance

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2010 - June 2010 (n = 804) and January 2013 – June 2013 (n= 3549). Base: Australians 14+ with data allowance on main mobile phone

The majority of Australia’s 8.5 million mobile phone data users now have a monthly allowance over 1GB (but not unlimited)—up from just 20% in 2010, the latest Digital Universe report from Roy Morgan Research reveals. However 14% of users do not know or can’t say what their data allowance is—and may potentially be more likely to suffer so-called bill shock.

Nearly a third of users (32%) now have a data allowance from 1GB to less than 2GB—the most common bracket. Another 20% have an allowance greater than 2GB per month, excluding unlimited.

Only around 1 in 5 users (22%) now have an allowance less than 500MB per month. Just three years ago, this basic level of data allowance sufficed for almost half of mobile data users (46%).

Monthly Data Allowance: 2010 vs. 2013

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January 2010 - June 2010 (n = 804) and January 2013 – June 2013 (n= 3549). Base: Australians 14+ with data allowance on main mobile phone

The average expenditure of mobile data users in the most popular allowance bracket of 1-2GB is $67 per month, although this could also include non-data phone and text charges and device repayments.

Mobile data users in the 1-2GB bracket spend a combined $180 million per month on their phones – almost double the combined $95m/month expenditure of the second most common bracket (<500MB), and 39% more than those with a limited allowance over 2GB ($129 million).

Mobile Phone Monthly Data Allowance and Spend

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), January - June 2013, Base: Australians 14+ with data allowance on main mobile phone (n = 3366)

Tim Martin, Digital Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“We are surprised by just how many mobile broadband users don’t know how much data allowance they have available each month—a potential precursor to so-called ‘bill shock’.

“Also surprising is that while there has been a clear movement from entry level plans (below 500MB) to 1GB to 2GB allowances, we have not yet seen much take up of allowances over 2GB.

“The cost of data could be the biggest constraint to wider usage by Australians of all the data rich services that are becoming available. Reducing the cost of mobile data should be an imperative for the mobile data networks as it will hasten Australians’ uptake of mobile digital services. Along with the increased processing power of new smartphones, the download speeds offered by 3G /4G and the range of apps and mobile services available, there could be big opportunities for for new entrants and existing market incumbents should move quickly to offer unlimited ‘all you can eat’ data plans and free public wifi hotspots as has happened in mature markets like the UK.

“Teenagers (aged 14-17) are not only more likely to be on low-allowance plans, they are the most likely group to be unaware of what their data limit is. This group’s appetite for high-bandwidth apps and entertainment puts them (and often their bill-paying parents) at risk of end-of-month shocks.

“Roy Morgan Research’s latest Digital Universe report is a comprehensive and invaluable guide to Australia’s digital landscape. The report examines how new technologies, devices and levels of access and adoption are affecting the way Australian consumers live.”

Visit our online store to purchase the latest Digital Universe report for Australia.

For comments or more information please contact:

Tim Martin

Digital Director

Office:   +61 (3) 9224 5116


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About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

In Australia, Roy Morgan Research is considered to be the authoritative source of information on financial behaviour, readership, voting intentions and consumer confidence. Roy Morgan Research is a specialist in recontact customised surveys which provide invaluable and effective qualitative and quantitative information regarding customers and target markets.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%