Windows Phone 7 data usage, second update

Apologies for the quiet around here lately: Between the SuperSite CMS switchover from last week and this past weekend’s fantastic bout of food poisoning, I’m having a hard time getting back up to speed. That said, I wanted to provide another update about my Windows Phone data usage. This follows last month’s update and the original post.

As you can see from the chart below, my data usage seems to be on a sharp upward trajectory.


One has to wonder when/if this trend is going to level out. But it’s pretty clear now that AT&T’s lower-end 200 MB data plan would never cut it, for me at least, unless I was interested in really micro-managing usage. Which I’m not.

More next month…

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42 Responses to Windows Phone 7 data usage, second update

  1. richcoleman says:

    I stayed grandfathered into the unlimited plan because data usage is only going to go up as technology gets more prevalent and more connected apps/services flourish.


    P.S. and yes, Paul – socialism IS a bad word (re: your last WW podcast) :)

  2. jazhawk says:

    200 meg? With a smart phone? I always thought this was another AT&T stunt. Not too dissimilar from a parking meter in NY city where they bet you won’t return to your car in time to prevent the city from taking you for almost $400.00 in fines. AT&T is betting you’ll go over the 200 meg and they get to bill you for going over.
    BTW, I hope you get to feeling better Paul. And also, did the wife try out the WP7?

  3. gpsarakis says:

    Wow, that’s a nice size jump month from month, did you find yourself downloading more apps and games? Or maybe you just can’t put your shiny new Focus down? :)

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      I honestly don’t think I’ve done anything different. I’m not sure what it is.

      In many ways, I’d think my usage would go up dramatically when I travel, but I was home for most of November, I think.

  4. guidorobben says:

    Any idea why the usage is 200+ more than last time?

  5. Hey Paul,

    Could it be that because the Windows Phone is new and “exciting” that you’re using it more than you might have been using the iPhone towards the end? I’m trying to guage my data usage as well and I’m using about 130MB per month. I don’t stream video or music when on the network.

    Any idea when or if more sports apps, like ESPN, might be coming to WP7? I’m loviong the phone, but I need my sports fix and the selection for sports is paltry.

  6. mcakins says:

    Well, interesting to see you Data usage spike with the months :-), this begs the question, do you find yourself using your WP7 much more than you were using your iPhone? I cannot imagine this data spike is due to same telephone habit compared to your iPhone era.

  7. chrisgroves says:

    I have been watching my data plan for the first month on the Focus – I am pushing myself to stay under the 200mb plan. I have about 6 days left in this cycle and I am at 168.3mb out of the 200. I am on wifi 90% of the time so I do not see a reason to worry about it too much.

    I have noticed that even when on wifi, some of my apps seem to use the 3G data plan regardless. For example, I was streaming iheartradio one day, the next day I saw that my data usage had jumped from around 60mb to 145mb. Now I am completely positive I was on wifi because I am always on it when at home, but it still did not register it through the app apparently.

    I have run some other tests with it and have not noticed any other strange bumps, but I am curious if anyone else has noticed it come up.

    Perhaps I am simply launching an app too quickly before it completely connects to wifi.

  8. Seon says:

    I went way over 5gb of data in November and T mobile naturally throttled my data speeds. I am hoping December my usage remains below the limit. Thank Goodness I am on unlimited data.

  9. Bill says:

    I’m finding with the ease of use of my focus I’m using mine more and more and glad I stayed on my grandfathered data plan. What I have most interesting is, as my WP7 usage goes up, my iPad usage has been dropping. Yes, there’s a world of difference in screen size, but I just love the convenience of the phone and the Super Amoled screen makes it so much better. Probably the thing I’ve found the most ironic is, with all the ads regarding a phone to save us from our phones, my usage has probably doubled if not tripled over my old WinMo phone, so I may need the next generation WP to save me from this one ;-)

  10. davidbonds says:

    Paul – could the increase in data usage be at least partially caused by loading new apps on your phone once the marketplace started getting populated? I realize the apps themselves were likely not that large, but I’m betting that at least some of them do autoupdating of data for the app itself – ie, richcoleman’s comment of “more connected apps/services”.

    FWIW, I had a WinMobile 6.5 phone before my focus (which I picked up mid-November) – I went from 252megs in October to 319megs in November, and that’s WITH me leaving wifi on (and connected at both home and one of my office locations) – something I never did with the 6.5 phone. Definitely an increase in 3g bandwidth for me – glad I stayed grandfathered in the unlimited plan as well! :-)

  11. nicholas1029 says:

    Hey Paul. Just out of curiosity, when did you transition from the tester phone to the final phone? Was that around the same time that the data spiked?

    • Paul Thurrott says:

      Well, I got the Focus the day after the launch, so it would have been around the 11th of October.

      I wonder if its related to more going on, over time, with the Marketplace, more apps being installed, etc.

  12. bpsmicro says:

    There’s a thread here that may offer some clues. Basically if your phone goes to sleep (which I gather means the display’s gone blank), it supposedly turns off the WiFi and reverts to 3G for all your data transfers, unless your phone is plugged in.
    It’s conceivable that you’re at home, and you *think* you’re connected to your WiFi for all your data needs, but it’s really not.


    • Paul Thurrott says:

      If true, this is a bug pure and simple. Why we haven’t yet gotten at least a handful of bug fixes is unclear … and, by the way, indefensible.

      • Two things I noticed and just disabled today which may or not be causing your data use.

        1. In Settings->Feedback there is an option to “Use my cellular data connection to send feedback” I turned this off! But still have send feedback enabled. They could be transferring memory dumps, etc… over cellular, who knows!

        2. In Settings->Phone Update I disabled check for updates on cellular…both of these are unnecessary IMO and should have been disabled by default. I’m on WiFi everyday and I imagine most users hit a WiFi network at least once a week.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        Good stuff, thanks.


      • As a follow up, I’ve had the device for about 10 days now and have used only 30 MB. I went with the 200 MB plan being that there are lot of WiFi hotspots around me through OptimumWiFi and it seems fine for me. I’m using about 3-4 MB a day with the above settings turned off for updates and feedback over 3G.

        I’m not streaming radio though when the lock screen is up, nor do I upload pictures, watch youtube video, or upload/download anything significant when I’m not on WiFi. If I see an application update, I wait till I get home and I’m WiFi.

      • Second follow up, I’m now 19 days into my cycle and have used 66.01 MB’s (So still averaging 3-4 MB’s a day, some days I use 10 others 1, etc… depending on whether I’m using the GPS to find directions, or watching a youtube movie, etc…). I’ve also download Need for Speed over WiFi and didn’t run into the issue some here reported (I downloaded it though after I made the above changes). I also passed NFS along with IloMilo of which sync data to my Xbox Live account.

        A few other things. I set my mail accounts to update once an hour, not the default of every half hour. And my work email I do manually, because I do not want to be informed on off hours when I get a new work email. If it’s important I’ll get a call.

  13. nicholas1029 says:

    So I woke up this morning to find out that my phone decided to upload close to 170 MB worth of data over my cellular connection. First of all, I was at home with wifi available. Second, what the heck was the phone uploading? I didn’t install anything new or use the phone excessively when I wasn’t home. Online in my data logs, it only shows a large upload to wap.cingular, which isn’t too clear.

    I called AT&T to see if they could shed some light on this, and they think that it’s a glitch. Apparently, they want to give it a couple days to see if it goes away. Then they’ll call me back with their resolution. As to what really happened, I don’t know. If this was caused by WP7 itself, then Microsoft really has to patch this bug. Even if an app did this and not the OS itself, WP7 should have connected to wifi, not cellular. The time on the log online shows that it took place while I was at home. Luckily, I didn’t hit the data cap yet, but I was close.

    • nicholas1029 says:

      So I finally figured out what happened here. I had downloaded the Need for Speed game directly from my phone. That app is about 150 MB in size. Normally the phone is supposed to stop these large downloads from happening over cellular. However, since I was supposedly connected to wifi the phone allowed it. The thing is, the phone used my cellular connection to download the app, even though it showed that it’s connected to wifi.

      Due to this large chunk of data used up, I later went over my 200 MB limit. Thankfully, AT&T allowed me to bump my account to the 2GB plan and they backdated it to cancel out the overage charge that I had incurred earlier.

      The fact that the phone downloaded a 150 MB app when it is not supposed to it most definitely a major bug. I really hope Microsoft rolls out an update soon. They better not wait and roll everything into the copy and paste update. This is more important and needs to be addressed now.

      • Paul Thurrott says:

        Yep. And this is what I’m talking about when I say that Microsoft is not moving fast enough to fix these kinds of problems. We should have received several small fixes by now, and this type of thing is critical and should have been among them. This is costing people money. It’s pretty ridiculous.

  14. mnjoe says:

    I just have to add to the observations. I got my WP7 (Samsung Focus) on launch day. I signed up for the small plan – it’s always been more than enough for me on my iPhone. I have WiFi at home, I have a MiFi card – so for the most part, I’m never using Edge or 3G data from AT&T.

    Within 3 days of getting my WP7 Phone home – and all while in the range of WiFi, I used about 175MB of my plan. In 3 days! OK – so I chaulked that up to the fact that the phone was new, and maybe alot of the intial set-up took place on cell data rather than WiFi. I turned off the data for the remaining 27 days using the settings in WP7. So, a month later, I thought I would try again. Again, sitting at home, in the range of WiFi, the WP7 phone quickly used 170MB or so of data – just within a couple days. So now, I’ve turned off cellular data again on the phone so I dont go over.

    It seems like WP7 cannot/does not always recognize when it is range of WiFi, and it, most of the time, uses the cellular network. So looks like if I want to really use this phone with cell data, I should get the larger AT&T plan. This doesn’t happen with my iPhone….

  15. Frank says:

    Data being transmitted from the phone onto a network could be due to a backup running on the phone. An increase in the amount of data being sent would be expected as more apps/data is on the phone, increasing the amount that needs to be backed up.

    Not sure if WP7 even has automated, background backups, but I did encounter a similar problem on Android, which does have a backup “feature”. I found my Nexus One constantly running the backup and therefore draining the battery much too quickly. I turned backup off and my battery problems went away.

  16. langc334 says:

    Many have been seeing this issue. One person got confirmation that once a phone falls asleep everything is 3G not wifi and noticed that Yahoo email is a large data user at 1 to 1.5 MB per sync check, Read posts 19 about sleep mode and and 27 about yahoo usage vs gmail graph. Also from the @WinPhoneSupport was this – @ryan_mccourt When you are using the phone it will be using WiFi depending on the action. When locked/idle it will use cellular. ^EB. Some also suggested that the check for phone updates over cellular could be a cause and to turn the cellular portion off.

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  18. bpsmicro says:

    I did a little experimentation on this. It seems that if your phone is plugged in, WiFi is *not* turned off when the phone goes to sleep. But if you’re running on battery, it does.
    I confirmed because my router uses DD-WRT firmware which, combined with WallWatcher, lets me monitor what my network is doing constantly. So when I had the phone plugged in, my routine updates (syncing my e-mail accounts, basically) still went out via WiFi.
    So that’s a somewhat acceptable compromise, I guess. I’d prefer if that behavior was a user-option. I’d also be somewhat happier if MS actually *documented* all this, rather than force all the users to ask around on various forums/blogs to sleuth out how it all works.

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  26. rnspiller says:

    I just read this and thought of your post about the WP7 data usage issue.

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