download limit

Download Limit: Learn to Easily Manage your Mobile Data


We all have a dependence on mobile data for our communication needs. Whether messaging on social apps or streaming content on Netflix, we all need the internet to serve our connectivity needs. But the real problem arises when we come across the download limit given by our service providers.

But wait! What exactly is the download limit in the UK?

A download limit is the amount you are allowed to use your internet connection to download your chosen content. We understand this simple definition won’t suffice. Therefore, we’ve written a detailed blog on download limits and how you can calculate your data usage to stay within your allocated limit.

Download Limits in the UK

Mobile data is an essential component of our mobile plans. Gone are the days when inclusive minutes and texts were the most important consideration when choosing a plan. Nowadays, the most important differentiating factor between different mobile phone plans is the amount of data it comes with.

For example, entry-level tariffs typically come with 500 MB of data which is almost half a GB. As the prices go up, the data increases to 100 GB. Some mobile networks have given customers unlimited mobile data on the most expensive plans. This gives you unlimited internet access without a data cap.

The Table below demonstrates the data allowances currently available in the United Kingdom:

Mobile Network Pay-as-you-go Data allowances Pay Monthly Data allowances
Talk Home Mobile 3 GB to 150 GB 4 GB to 200 GB
ASDA Mobile 250MB to 15GB
BT Mobile 500MB to 50GB
EE 50MB to 16GB 1GB to 100GB
Giff gaff 500MB to Always-On
iD Mobile 100MB to 4GB 500MB to 40GB
O2 2GB to 20GB 1GB to 100GB
Plusnet Mobile 500MB to 12GB
SMARTY 1GB to Unlimited
Sky Mobile 2GB to 25GB
Tesco Mobile 250MB to 8GB 1GB to 50GB
Three 2GB to Unlimited 500MB to Unlimited
Virgin Mobile 2GB to 10GB 1GB to Unlimited
Vodafone 100MB to 20GB 500MB to 100GB
VOXI 6GB to 45GB

Wondering about the Mobile data prices?

We’ve created a table that shows average monthly prices for different data plans. This will help you decide how much you want and what your internet connectivity will cost.

Amount of Data Pay as you go Monthly
1 MB 1p
1 GB Data £3.00 £6.00
2 GB Data £6.00 £5.00
3 GB Data £5.00 £4.50
4 GB Data £6.00 £4.95
5 GB Data £5.00 £5.90
6 GB Data £9.90 £5.95
8 GB Data £10.00 £7.00
10 GB Data £10.00 £6.50
12GB Data £10.00 £7.00
30GB Data £15.00 £7.95
40GB Data £12.00 £9.95
50GB Data £15.00 £10.00
100GB Data £19.88 £11.95
Unlimited Data £20.00 £16.00

How Much Do I Need?

According to a report, an average internet user consumes around 5.6GB of data monthly. However, there isn’t one rule that fits all. Therefore, you must determine your required data before deciding on your data limit.

Your exact data consumption depends on your individual needs and your usage patterns.

Also Read: Should I Leave Mobile Data on all the Time – User Guide 2023

Choosing a plan without doing research results in letting you cut off in the middle of the month. And if this happens to be the case, you will be charged for continuing to access the internet.

On the contrary, choosing a plan with more than the required data would mean overpaying for lots of data, you do not use.

For this reason, you should decide wisely and choose a plan that serves your connectivity needs. But how will you calculate your data requirements? Well, that’s what the next section of the blog will cover!

How Long Will a Gigabyte of Data Last For?

The table below represents what you can do with one GB of data. Use this table as an example of how long each gigabyte is expected to last:

Activity 1 GB of Data
Accessing web pages 600 Web pages
Basic Emails 350,000 messages
Emails with attachments 2,000 messages
Downloading or Streaming music 200 songs
Streaming SD video 2 hours of streaming
Streaming HD videos 30 minutes
Skype voice calls 30 hours
Skype video calls 4 hours
Listening to online radio 16 hours
Updating apps 25 Apps


These details provide a rough idea of what you can do with 1GB of data. For larger data allowances, such as 4 GB, multiply this number by 4, and you will get to know what activities you can do with this data allowance.

Average Data Consumption

The average data consumption in the United Kingdom is 5.6 GB per month. This average data consumption has grown due to ever-increasing social and streaming platforms.

According to Ofcom, the average data consumption in 2012 was 200 MBs, which increased to 1.9 GB by 2017. The increase is eightfold due to the increasing reliance on social and streaming platforms.

With the launch of 5G, further increases are expected in upcoming years, meaning your data needs will continue to increase if you rely solely on mobile data.

It is essential to choose a data plan based on your data usage; else, you will end up running short of mobile data in the middle of the month. Some people might use more data than average users, while others may need much less. Therefore, tracking your usage and choosing the right plan is important.

When choosing a lengthy contract of 24 months, for example, select a plan with slightly larger data than your current usage. You can compensate for your use as data consumption grows in the next years.

Data Usage: By App & Activity Type

Every application on your smartphone consumes some of your data allowances. This data consumption varies depending on the application and your usage. The table below guides you on how much data is used by different applications & activities.

Activity Data Consumption
Basic E-mail or Instant WhatsApp Message. 0.003MB per message
Rich E-mail with attachments. 0.5MB per message
Web Browsing 1.7MB per web page.  Approximately 90MB per hour of web surfing
Downloading or Streaming Music 5MB per song
Skype Voice Call 35MB per hour
Skype Video Call 240MB per hour
Downloading or Updating Apps 40MB per app
Downloading or Streaming SD Video 500MB

These figures are given on approximation and assumptions. Activities like web browsing and applications vary depending on how much multimedia they contain. A web page with less media will consume less data than a webpage richer in multimedia.

Data consumption for online streaming can vary depending on your service and your chosen quality.

Interesting Read: How much Data does TikTok use and how to Reduce it?

How to Find Out Your Current Data Usage

Modern smartphones come with a data usage monitor; this monitor is most accurate compared to any other method of data usage calculation.

To find your data usage on your iPhone, Go to Settings> Mobile Data > Scroll down until you see the applications.

For Android users > Go to Settings> Wireless & Network > Data Usage

This information on these screens will help you understand your data consumption for a given period. You can also change the range to see how much you consumed. You’ll also see how and when the data was consumed.

Additionally, you can set up alters to see when your data usage exceeds a certain amount. For example, if you’ve got a monthly allowance of 5GB, you can set up the limit to this so that your phone gives you a warning whenever this amount is exceeded.

How to Reduce Your Data Consumption

Here are some tips that can help you reduce your mobile data consumption.

Use Wi-Fi Whenever It is Suitable!

Any data transferred over the Wi-Fi doesn’t count towards your download limit on your mobile phone plan. Therefore, it is advised to Connect to Wi-Fi when you have a Wi-Fi connection available within your access.  This reduces your extra data usage, which you use when you need it.

Download things on Wi-Fi.

TV shows, podcasts, and music playlists consume much more data than other routine activities. Therefore, it is best to download them when you have Wi-Fi access.  For example, on Netflix, you can download TV shows and movies to be watched later.

All it requires is planning and some extra storage space on your smartphone. However, this planning gives you smoother playbacks and reduces mobile data consumption.

Disable Automatically Playing Videos.

Automatically playing videos on social networking websites consumes a lot more data. These videos appear on your feed and continue playing when your scroll past. This consumes mobile data for videos that you wouldn’t want to play.

To disable automatically playing videos on Android and iPhone:

  • Tap on the three lines you see on the bottom right of Facebook.
  • Scroll down > Settings & Privacy.
  • Open settings and go to preferences and open media.
  • Scroll down to autoplay and choose never autoplay videos on mobile data.

Check your Software Update Settings.

You should check your software update settings to ensure you update your software only on Wi-Fi. On your iPhone, go to settings > iTunes & App Store > turn off “use mobile data.”

On Android, go to play store and tap on menu > Settings > Auto-update apps. Make sure this is set to auto-update apps on Wi-Fi only. Using cloud storage backups, ensure the backup occurs when you’re on Wi-Fi.

Use a Web Browser that compresses your Data.

To reduce your data usage, try using a browser that compresses your data usage. Google Chrome, for example, can be used in lite mode to save data consumption. Similarly, opera mini is available for iPhone and Android devices, which can reduce your mobile data consumption.

These browsers compress data before transferring it to you on the internet. This leads to reduced data consumption for loading a webpage.

Uninstall apps that use a lot of data.

Your data usage monitor will tell you how much data individual apps consume on your phone. After careful consideration, you should uninstall data-hungry apps if you no longer use them.

Alternatively, you can switch off background app refresh or background data usage. This stops applications from being able to access the internet when you aren’t inside the apps using them actively.

To turn off background data consumption on your iPhone, go to settings > General > Background App refresh.

Go to settings > Wireless & Network > Data usage > Turn on data saver on Android.


To better understand the download limit 2023, specific terminologies concerning mobile data will be discussed in this section.

KB stands for Kilobytes, MB stands for Megabytes, GB stands for Gigabytes, and TB stands for terabytes.

There are 1,000 KBs in 1 MB (1,000 KB = 1 MB), and 1000 MBs in 1 GB.

Use the following table to make a conversion between these four measurements:

Measurement In Terabytes (TB) In Gigabytes (GBs) In Megabytes (MBs) In Kilobytes (KBs)
Terabyte 1TB = 0.001 GB 1TB = 0.000 001 MB 1TB = 0.000 000 001 KB
Gigabyte 1GB = 0.001 TB 1GB = 1,000 MB 1GB = 1,000,000 KB
Megabyte 1MB = 0.000 001 TB 1MB = 0.001 GB 1MB = 1,000 KB
Kilobyte 1KB = 0.000 000 001 TB 1KB = 0.000 001 GB 1KB = 0.001 MB

Most data allowances are measured in gigabytes, whereas some lower-cost allowances could be measured in megabytes. For example, a data plan may contain 500 MB, equivalent to 0.5 GBs.

Unlimited Data

Some plans come with unlimited data, meaning there is no cap on your data usage, and you do not have any download limit.

It is important to read the terms and conditions before choosing an unlimited Data plan. Some service providers may give you unlimited data, but the download speed decreases as you cross a certain threshold.

For more information, read our detailed guide on Unlimited Data SIMs.

Zero Rated Data

Zero-rated data refers to specific online activities or services that don’t consume your regular data allowance. It allows users to access content without deducting it from their data plans or incurring additional charges. Zero-rated data provides a means of preserving your regular data by exempting certain services from counting towards it.

Service providers often offer zero-rated data plans. The motivation behind these plans is to incentivize consumers to use services or consume specific content without worrying about data limits.

Zero-rated data commonly includes activities such as streaming music, video or accessing social media platforms. For instance, a service provider may partner with a music streaming service, allowing customers to stream music.

Bottom Line

Understanding how much data different activities consume and using available tools to monitor and manage your usage can help you balance between connectivity and download limit.

By being proactive and mindful about our data consumption, we can enjoy the digital world’s benefits without worrying about exceeding our limits or incurring additional costs.

Understanding your download limits is crucial for managing your data consumption effectively. This helps you stay connected throughout the month and avoid unexpected charges. Determining your data needs, monitoring your usage, and reducing data usage can help you stay within your download limits.

Remember to consult your mobile network provider and utilise a data usage calculator and monitoring tools to make informed decisions about your data usage. Stay in control and avoid exceeding your download limits to maintain a hassle-free internet experience.


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