BECAUSE I DEPEND UPON wifi connectivity on my work laptop, I have discovered how much over-the-air data connectivity actually costs. That's because my work laptop doesn't connect to the campus wifi node and I'm tethering from my personal O2 account to compensate.
For a week, I used my Hauwei E586 Mifi as my wifi service but the combination of serving YouTube, BBC iPlayer and RTE Jr streams at home along with my normal daytime browsing means I use an average of 1.32 GB of O2 data every day. We have 30 GB of data on a reasonably priced O2-Ireland account and don't want to run up more than the contracted data services.
I've resorted to turning off all the two tablets in the house at night and ensuring the smartphones have Wifi shut down at night as well because they were updating software, downloading the Guardian and getting email syncs when we didn't need them. Along the way, I've learned how data-hungry video streaming services really are.
Even our short 20 minute commutes drain a lot of data from our plans with the iPlayer or RTE Jr playing in the back seat. Based on what I read in the Irish Twitterstream, I think it would be easy to prove video streaming accounts for 50% of the Ireland's mobile traffic.
I've watched hour-long BBC specials on the iPad and they make a big dent in my data allowance. I downloaded a 47 minute history segment and it weighed in at 563 MB when downloaded at High Quality. I streamed the same episode for less than 400 MB of data consumption but that's nearly a month's worth of data allowance for some of my friends and it's merely an hour of broadcast television.
Then there's Spotify. On my phone, I can get Normal (96 Kbits/sec), High (160 Kbits/sec) and Extreme (320 Kbits/sec) quality settings. The highest quality audio streaming into my reference earbuds cost me nearly 35 MB for every 10 minutes. That means I could burn up 200 MB while streaming an entire album--half of what I'd use watching a full screen streaming video for the same time but still a big whack of data.
I need to sort out my laptop so I can transfer my data costs back to the friendly folks at HEAnet because with another 5% pay cut hitting my wage packets, I can't be careless with my over-the-air data costs.