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Gargantuan volumes of mobile data unused due to lockdown

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Mobile users in the UK are sitting on a combined 165 million gigabytes of unused data as the coronavirus lockdown causes people to switch to Wi-Fi instead, research shows.

Comparison site Uswitch said that non-essential workers are using 500Mb less data a month than they did before the lockdown, a fall of a fifth (21 per cent) on the average 2.4Gb monthly usage.

Nevertheless, only one in five consumers (22 per cent) are hoping for a refund for any unused data, while one in ten (11 per cent) say they would like to donate their excess data to essential workers and 8 per cent would like the equivalent cost donated to charity.

More than a third of consumers (38 per cent) want their unused data to be rolled over to the following month.

The data also shows that essential workers’ data use has increased by 100Mb (4 per cent) a month in the same period as they are still leaving their homes to carry out basic services.

With millions of people confined to their homes during the nationwide lockdown, home broadband usage has been surging due to a combination of a massive rise in video calls, working from home and media streaming.

Some networks have been offering free data to users, possibly due to the excess capacity on their networks, such as Virgin Mobile which offered customers 10Gb for free in March.

Ru Bhihka, mobiles expert at Uswitch.com, said: “Locked-down consumers are sitting on a mountain of unused mobile data worth a staggering £165m.

“We have mobile deals set up to accommodate browsing on the go, but since so many of us are homebound and relying on Wi-Fi to stay connected, we’re simply not burning through our data allowances in the same way. 

“Many consumers would like to see this data rolled over to when they have more use for it and it’s great to see some providers like Sky Mobile already doing that.

“If you are unsure about how much data you need, it’s worth checking to see how much you are currently using each month and if it is more than you require, run a comparison to see if you can find a better suited plan.”

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