BBC iPlayer now streaming through 3G mobile networks – but know your data limits

BBC iPlayer is now streaming through 3G mobile networks, but consumers need to know their data limits, and just how much capacity different types of downloads use up, warned Broadbandchoices.co.uk.

Michael Phillips, product director at Broadbandchoices.co.uk commented: “32% of mobile phone users access the internet through their handset so the iPlayer app update for 3G is long overdue. Watching Eastenders on the train home from work could fast become a habit for over-enthusiastic iPlayer fans, however this raises the risk of breaching data limits and incurring hefty penalty charges as a result, particularly amongst younger customers as they are the biggest users of this type of service.

“Most smartphones come with a data cap of around 500MB or 1GB per month, so considering that an hour of TV viewing through iPlayer will set you back around 300MB there is serious potential for some nasty bill shocks at the end of the month. Ask yourself if finding out the latest Albert Square gossip is worth data charges of £2 per MB and think twice before streaming. Check the size of each file prior to downloading or use the below guide as a rule of thumb to keep track of your usage.”

Watching a three minute music video on YouTube: 12MB. Downloading a movie of DVD quality: 1.5GB. Watching an hour of Downton Abbey on iPlayer: 300MB. Uploading a photo to send to family overseas: 2MB.

Broadbandchoices.co.uk’s top tips for minimising data charges:

• The right tariff for you: When choosing a mobile tariff always compare your options and keep in mind your needs as a user. If you are a heavy mobile broadband user and access the internet through your phone frequently, you will need a package that reflects this – preferably with an unlimited data allowance.

• Size matters: Before downloading or streaming any content through your mobile phone, check the size of the file beforehand to make sure you are not unwittingly breaching your data limit. Bear in mind that HD files are considerably larger than usual and will eat into your allowance.

• Make use of wi-fi: Many places now offer free wi-fi when you are on the move – from train stations to libraries or even your local Starbucks. It is worth switching to these services whenever possible as downloading through free wi-fi will not count towards your data usage and will help you stretch out your allowance for longer.