Skip to Content

All About Wireless Hotspots and How Much Data They Use

Wireless Hotspots are truly a great thing. Find yourself in a location without access to any free wifi? No problem? Simply tap into your hotspot’s data connection and you’re surfing the web with no problem. There are endless benefits that your hotspot can provide you.

If the data for your hotspot runs out, you can be charged extra or your connection may be cut off. How long your hotspot will last depends on the activity: web surfing may only use a few megabytes (MB) of data, while streaming HD video can quickly use several gigabytes (GB).

So of course there are many benefits to the Wireless Hotspot, but there may be some queries you have about them. What exactly is a wireless hotspot? What happens when the data in your hotspot runs out? Is “unlimited” truly unlimited? And exactly how much data does it take to stream a movie, or surf the web? Check out all these answers and more below!

What You Need to Know about Your Data Usage with a Wireless Hotspot 

Wi Fi wireless concept

Wireless hotspots are a great way to get connected anywhere (with some people even using them in their cars!), but if you’re not careful about how much data you use, your bill can get pretty high fairly quickly. Wireless hotspots are incredibly useful for mobile devices.

Hotspots provide your mobile device with an immediate and convenient connection to the internet. This article will discuss what you need to know about your data usage with wireless hotspots.

What is a Wireless Hotspot?

A wireless hotspot is a portable device that lets you access the internet via a cellular connection. You can connect to these devices using your phone, tablet, laptop computer, or any other WiFi-enabled device, and instantly enjoy the same connection you would if you were in any place with wifi.

Some companies offer this service for free, and others charge a small fee for usage. The price and duration of the service vary from company to company.

Some companies offer unlimited data for one monthly fee while other companies will let you purchase a data plan with a set maximum amount of data usage per month.

What Happens When You Use All of Your  Hotspot Data?

Basically, if your hotspot data runs out, one of two things will happen. You’ll either be able to keep using data but be charged extra for it, or your hotspot will simply cut out and stop providing you with a connection.

The details of your phone plan will explain which of these cases apply to you. But generally, most hotspot plans just stop working when you run out of data.

Can Your Hotspot Run Out if you Have Unlimited Data?

“Data throttling” is the act of limiting data usage for users who consume excessive amounts of data. If a user exceeds their limit, their data will be streamed at a lower speed.

But if you have unlimited data, your hotspot data will never run out. There is no limit on how much data you can consume because it is unlimited.

How Much Data Usage are You Going to Consume with a Wireless Hotspot? 

As you may expect, the more you use your wireless hotspot, the more data you’re going to consume. If you’re using your hotspot for something particularly heavy, such as to stream a movie, then you’re going to eat up your data pretty fast.

Some people actually add their smart TV to their wireless hotspot – this is a recipe for high data usage if you’re streaming content for hours a day!

How Much Data Does a Wireless Hotspot use Based on the Activity?

Wireless hotspots use a lot of data when we are doing things like streaming Netflix or HBO. Of course, the amount of data used varies based on the type of activity we are doing.

Streaming videos or playing games for about an hour using around 1GB of data. However, using a hotspot to check your emails or browse the web uses far less- around 100MB.

Here’s a list showing common data usage rates (per hour) for some typical activities:

  • Streaming Music: Up to 150MB
  • Web Browsing: Approx. 60MB
  • Using Facebook: Approx. 80MB
  • Using Youtube at a lower (non-HD) resolution: Approx. 300MB

How Much Data Does Streaming a Movie Use?

The amount of data needed to stream an entire movie depends on the quality of the video and the length of time that the movie is viewed for. The more data used to stream it, the higher the video quality will be.

Streaming a 1-hour video will use around 300MB, which may seem like a small amount at first but becomes significant if you’re viewing multiple videos of this length in one day.

And when you take into account that higher resolution movies will use more data, it’s no surprise that HD movies can use up as much as 2GB of data.

Most streaming services will have an option in the settings to use less data or to play videos at an SD instead of HD resolution. This will help you save a ton of data when using a hotspot, just make sure you check this before streaming a lot of video content.

How Long will 30GB of Hotspot Data Last?

The amount of time that 30GB of hotspot data will last varies depending on your activity. According to the latest research, 30GB of hotspot data can last up to 2–3 days if you use it sparingly. But if you’re planning to use the network all day long and use data-intensive services, it may only last a day.

This also includes the way you’re using your data. For example, surfing the web uses less data than streaming HD videos. So, the amount of time 30GB of hotspot data will last comes down to both the frequency of use and how you’re using your hotspot data.

Here is a chart to help you get a better idea of this concept:

Using 30GB of Data

ActivityApprox. Hours
Netflix in SD (1GB/hr)30 Hours
Netflix in HD (3GB/hr) 10 Hours
Netflix in 4K (7GB/hr)4hr 17min
YouTube in SD (562.5MB/hr)53 Hours
YouTube in HD (2GB/hr)15 Hours
YouTube in 4K (10GB/hr)3 Hours
Browsing the internet (60MB/hr)500 Hours
Spotify Music (High-quality 72MB/hr)416 Hours
Chart of how many hours you could use 30GB of data by doing certain activities

How to Track Your Wireless Hotspot Data Usage

It’s important to carefully monitor your wireless data usage so you can avoid going over your monthly limit. You can use a data tracking app that keeps a running tally of your phone’s current usage, and also helps you monitor what applications are using your data the most.

You can also typically find this information in the app associated with your service provider, or in your phone’s settings under the “data & connectivity” section.