Data Consumption When Streaming Media

Data Consumption When Streaming Media

One of the things most of us, users is fond of doing is to stream music and video online which mostly ends up consuming your entire data plan.

Romeo is meant for Juliet, just as modern phones are meant for streaming services. Your Android phone is capable of giving you high quality content, be it the screen or audio component and streaming services like Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and other streaming services. However, high quality audio or video could also gobble up your data plan like never before. This article will show just how much does the audio or video streaming in your Android device takes up or consumes your data.

Audio Streaming

Nowadays, some audio streaming services offer super HQ music streaming. Howver, some services still use the same old scale: the Low, Normal and High. These scales use the same bitrate to define each category. Bitrate is the number of bits per second that are digitally transmitted.

This is how data is consumed for audio streaming and how much data each scale will consume:

  • Low quality is typically 96kbps. On average, Low-quality audio streaming uses 0.72MB per minute or 43.2MB per hour.
  • Normal quality is 160kbps. Normal-quality music streaming uses 1.20MB per minute or 72MB per hour on average.
  • High quality music is 320kbps. High-quality streaming music uses 2.40MB per minute or 115.2MB per hour on average.

Average being the keyword, most services offers streaming service that can auto-adjust based on your network conditions. So if you have slow network connections, the streaming service will automatically use lower quality bitrates for all categories to stream the media.

Video Streaming

As we all probably know, streaming video consumes more data than audio streaming since there is just more information transmitted all over the network. As mentioned, your network conditions play a big role in streaming media since nobody really likes buffering, who does? Anyways, you have to thank apps who are smart enough that asks you to stream videos that work for the available network speed in your location so you won’t have to worry about buffering. This hidden feature in your streaming apps will usually override your preferred settings IF it has to. However, if you asked for either HD or 4K video, it can be delivered if your network connection allows it.

This is how video streams break down on average:

  • Low quality video is very low-quality. think 240p or 320p. Low-quality settings will use about 0.3GB (300MB) per hour.
  • SD quality video is standard 480p video. SD-quality video uses about 0.7GB (700MB) per hour.
  • HD quality video is between 720p and 2K (remember, the app adjusts the stream). HD-quality video uses about 0.9GB (720p), 1.5G (1080p) and 3GB (2K) per hour.
  • UHD quality video uses a lot of data. A 4K stream uses about 7.2GB per hour.

All these video streaming data consumption is provided by Netflix and is based on their service uses. Your phone’s cache, variable quality based on your network conditions and compression are factors in your data consumption.

Audio & Video streaming based on your data plan

2GB, %GB and 10 GB are one of the common data plans which are not unlimited obviously. So if you wanted to stream media while using your data connection, check out how much each tier will allow:

A 2GB data plan will let you stream:

  • 47 hours of low-quality music
  • 28 hours of normal-quality music
  • 17 hours of high-quality music
  • 6.5 hours of low-quality video
  • 2.8 hours of standard definition video
  • 2.2 hours of 720p video
  • 1.3 hours of 1080p video
  • 0.6 hours of 2K video
  • 0.25 hours of 4K video

A 5GB data plan will let you stream:

  • 117 hours of low-quality music
  • 70 hours of normal-quality music
  • 42.5 hours of high-quality music
  • 16.25 hours of low-quality video
  • 7 hours of standard definition video
  • 5.5 hours of 720p video
  • 3.25 hours of 1080p video
  • 1.5 hours of 2K video
  • 0.6 hours of 4K video

A 10GB data plan will let you stream:

  • 234 hours of low-quality music
  • 140 hours of normal-quality music
  • 85 hours of high-quality music
  • 32.5 hours of low-quality video
  • 14 hours of standard definition video
  • 11 hours of 720p video
  • 6.5 hours of 1080p video
  • 3 hours of 2K video
  • 1.2 hours of 4K video

The data consumption sample stated above followed the industry standard 1,000MB which is equal to 1GB and not the exact calculation of 1,024MB in 1GB since your carrier might also the same. Take note that these are close estimations because of how data is compressed and since bitrates change depending on the situation so the measurements stated above may not match yours.

So based on the figures given, this should give you an idea that it’s better to use Wi-Fi if you want to stream high-quality video or audio without worrying about your data plan. And besides, Wi-Fi often has better signal compared to your Android phone’s network connection that could mean less degradation or compression of the media you’ll be streaming. And even if your internet service provider may optimize media traffic, it’s still nothing compared to your wireless carrier. Moreover, you can also use services that will let you download or pin your media while using Wi-Fi and get back on the media you are streaming later on. Just keep in mind that if you stream HD video for a span of 8 hours a day, you may have to maximize your internet plan as well but if you already have an unlimited internet plan, then there’s nothing to worry about.