Wireless internet basics

Data MathWe call them wireless phones but they can do much more than make phone calls.

Many of today's wireless devices are capable of web browsing, email, GPS maps, social networking, and more. All of these tasks require wireless internet, also referred to as data.

Some people are just interested in checking social media sites while others plan on streaming live TV to their wireless devices. People often ask the same question: how much wireless internet is enough?

Understanding the Byte

While voice plans are measured by talk time (minutes), wireless internet is measured by units of digital information called "bytes." A megabyte (MB) is about 1,024 kilobytes. A gigabyte (GB) is approximately 1,024 megabytes. Megabytes and kilobytes are the more common measurements you'll find when it comes to measuring wireless internet usage.

Translating Bytes into Items

Photos, music and movies are all different forms of data in varying sizes. For example, a typical five-minute song in MP3 format is about 3.5 MB in size. This is why you might see an 8 GB MP3 player advertised as storing "more than 2,000 songs." Keep in mind, the higher the digital quality and the longer the song, the bigger the file. The same rule applies for photos and movies.

Translating Bytes into Tasks

Tasks that you perform with your phone, such as downloading a song, can also be represented as wireless internet used. With an average smartphone, here is how some common tasks translate into wireless internet. These are approximates, as the actual numbers will depend on the size of the email and attachment, length of song, etc., but this should give you a good idea:

text only emails
0.175 GB
emails with photos
1 GB
web pages
0.578 GB
0.8 GB
minutes of video
2.9 GB
apps or games
2.25 GB

What counts against data

The activities you do using your home internet connection – from web surfing, to downloading music, to voice calling – all consume your internet plan. On your wireless device, here’s what counts against your wireless internet plan:

non-data data
search phonevoice emailemail
messagetext messaging roamingbrowsing
picturespicture messaging gpsgps via apps
visualvisual voice mail

For a more accurate measurement based on your smartphone model, try this free data calculator from Rogers Communications. It lets you see how much data you use up for common tasks, such as web surfing, reading email, downloading music, and so on.