Whether it’s checking out a new track in the comfort of your own home, or watching the latest episode of your favourite television series during your daily commute, most of us have conducted a data stream at some point in our lives. However, when it comes to understanding the difference between streaming data over Wi-Fi and over mobile data on our mobile phone, how many of us really know the difference?
We decided to delve into how many Brits actually understand the difference, as well as how long we continue our mobile plans after they have expired. The results might surprise you.
Wi-Fi vs. mobile data
It turns out that half of all Brits (50.02%) don’t understand the difference between streaming data via Wi-Fi and streaming data via mobile data.
21.3% of respondents are simply not sure of the difference between the two, while 28.8% have no idea. Not surprisingly, Millennials are the most in touch when it comes to the differences, followed by Gen Xers and then Baby Boomers.
It comes as no surprise that mobile deals come with different quantities of data. Depending on your allowance, if you find you’re always streaming on the go, it could end up costing you significantly in excess data charges.
How long do we continue on plans after the contract ends?
Inclusions and promotions offered by providers can, and do, change dramatically all the time. This means that by the time your mobile phone contract expires, it’s crucial to reassess the market to make sure you’re really getting the best of what’s out there. This is especially the case if you find yourself paying excess data charges every month. Switching your contract to allow a greater data allowance may actually work out cheaper than constantly topping up those data packs.
In fact, less than one in three Brits (31.0%) change plans as soon as their contract expires. For the rest of us, 28.3% have continued on the same plan for up to 12 months, 14.9% for 1–2 years, 13.7% for two–four years. Over one in 10 of us (12.1%) have continued on the same monthly plan for more than five years!
Nearly 1 in 3 women (32.6%) don’t continue on their plan after the contract has ended, compared to men (29.3%). When it comes to those continuing for up to 12 months after the contract has expired, it’s a similar story for both men (28.2%) and women (28.4%).
12.8% of men admit to continuing their monthly plan for more than 5 years, compared to 11.3% of women.
Millennials are the most likely to continue on the same mobile plan in the short term, with 45.1% continuing for up to 12 months, compared to 29.2% of Gen Xers and 19.7% of Baby Boomers.
Baby Boomers are the most likely to switch plans as soon as their contract is up (38.3%), followed by Gen Xers (28.7%) and Millennials (19.7%). Interestingly, Boomers are also the most likely to stick to what they know, remaining on an expired monthly contract for more than 5 years (15.3%), followed by Gen Xers (11.6%) and Millennials (6.0%).
Amount of time continued on monthly mobile plan after contract’s end
I have never continued on a mobile plan after the contract ends
More than 5 years
Those residing in the North West (38.4%) are most likely to switch plans as soon as their contract has ended, followed by those in the Yorkshire & The Humber (36.8%) and the South West (35.4%). In contrast, those in Wales (19.8%) are most likely to stay on the same plan for more than 5 years, followed by the West Midlands (16.1%) and East of England (14.4%).
So what is the difference?
Wi-Fi is what allows your devices (for example, mobile, tablet, laptop) to connect to the Internet wirelessly. In order to access the Internet via this method, you’ll need to be in range of a router and connect to it’s network, for example, at your home, at a shopping centre or even in a hotel lobby.
While still facilitating Internet access, mobile data operates a little differently. Instead of connecting to the network provided by a router, your mobile data connects to a network (e.g. EE Mobile, Vodafone or BT) as long as you’re within coverage area.
Both options can be selected and changed between in the settings menu of your device – but be careful! Many make the mistake of leaving their mobile data switched on, even when within range of a Wi-Fi connection. For example, forgetting to switch on Wi-Fi when returning home after work. This can result in excess data usage – depending on your plan’s allowances – costing you much more money.
How should I compare phone plans?
If you’ve just recently finished up your contract, or are simply looking to see what’s out there, it can be tricky to know exactly where to start. Do you need a lot of data? What coverage do you require? Here are some important questions to ask before making that final decision.
Data allowance. As our mobiles become integrated into our lives more than ever, it makes sense that our need for data also increases. If you spend a lot of time on Facebook or watching YouTube videos, go for a plan with plenty of data. In contrast, if you rely on your phone for calls and texts only, reducing your data will also see a reduction in your bill.
Network coverage. It’s crucial to check both the coverage and expected speeds of carriers, especially as not every provider has access to the full 4G network. You’ll also need to check that your area has an expected speed as per your preference.
International coverage. Whether you’re a frequent traveller or simply like to keep your contacts updated when you do venture overseas, it’s important to check the international coverage allowances of providers. Most postpaid plans will allow you to use your phone overseas, but the global roaming fees they charge can vary quite widely. To avoid a scary bill when returning to home soil, check if you can buy international calls/texts/data packs.
And of course, overall cost. By assessing the above features, and additional extras on offer, it’s crucial to weigh up your options to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. See our comparison of 12 mobile providers below to get started.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.