Singapore

Singapore's mobile data usage shoots up 23 per cent

This article is more than 12 months old

Friends and colleagues of theatre practitioner Zelda Tatiana Ng know that when they text her on WhatsApp, she will see their messages only when she gets to a Wi-Fi network.

The 49-year-old terminated her $70-a-month data plan three years ago, and now relies solely on Wi-Fi to access apps such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

The credit in her Singtel pre-paid SIM card is used only for calls and SMSes, and $20 can last her up to two months.

But Ms Ng is an outlier in this nation of data devourers.

Latest figures from the Info-comm Media Development Authority (IMDA) show that in the year up to March, Singapore residents consumed 185 million gigabytes (GB) of mobile data.

This translates to each person using an average of 2.7GB a month - up nearly 23 per cent from 2.2GB a month in the previous year.

The high data usage is despite the availability of more than 21,000 free public Wi-Fi hot spots under the Wireless@SG programme now, surpassing the target the Government set for itself two years ago.

As of June, more than 2.5 million users log in to Wireless@SG services a month - about 500,000 more than in 2016, according to IMDA.

I want to focus on what I am doing – be it directing, acting, enjoying a delicious meal, or just looking out at the scenery during a long bus ride. Zelda Tatiana Ng

Ms Ng said her no-data rule is not only a bid to save money.

"I want to focus on what I am doing - be it directing, acting, enjoying a delicious meal, or just looking out at the scenery during a long bus ride. I don't want to obsess about my phone."

Being without mobile data however, has its challenges. For instance, she cannot access navigation apps such as Google Maps. Friends also do get frustrated when she does not reply, admits Ms Ng, who is single.

"I know not many feel the way I do. But not having mobile data has been good for me, so I will continue this. "

Ms Ng's tips could come in useful for those looking to cut down on their phone data usage.

At the National Day Rally last Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke on the cost of living, and highlighted phone bills as an area Singaporeans are spending more on.

A spokesman for IMDA said consumers have many options to manage mobile data usage. Telcos can alert them when their usage hit a certain limit. There are also apps to track and cap mobile data usage.

SingTel offers SIM-only plans that start at $20 a month, allowing for 5GB of data, 150 minutes of talk time and 500 SMSes.

A StarHub spokesman said: "Customers can use StarHub's mobile apps to track usage and activate data usage alerts, which can help them know how much data they have left."

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