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Enough already? The rise of home internet data limits—and what we do with all those gigs

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2013-June 2014, sample = 20,022 Australians 14+ with a home internet connection.

Are our bandwidths getting bigger than our eyes when it comes to gobbling gigabytes? With an increasing number of Australians signing up for over 300GB per month of internet data, Roy Morgan Research looks at whether people with higher (or no) limits are actually doing more with them.

In the year to June 2014, of the 15.7 million Australians (14+) with a home internet connection 9% downloaded TV programs by computer in an average four week period, 7% downloaded feature-length movies, 9% streamed TV and 4% streamed movies.

The proportion of people doing these online activities rises sharply in line with increasing data limits—but only up to a point. Those with an unlimited data allowance are actually less likely to say they’ve downloaded or streamed movies or TV than those with 100GB or more but excluding unlimited.

In fact, downloading TV or movies is only marginally more popular among those with unlimited allowances than among those with only 50-99GB available each month.

% of people by Home Internet Data Limits who download or stream TV or movies

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, July 2013-June 2014, sample = 20,022 Australians 14+ with a home internet connection. *Total includes respondents who don’t know or can’t say their monthly internet data limit.

Of course, this is just the rate of doing these activities at all in a four-week period, and does not take into account how many TV shows or movies have been downloaded or streamed in the month.

But even so, around three quarters of people on an unlimited data allowance haven’t done any of these activities. Which begs the question: why have unlimited?

The answer lies in living arrangements and household sizes. 75% of people with unlimited home internet data either live with kids at home, with parents or in a share house. So although individually these people are less likely to do high-bandwidth activities on the computer, unlimited data is the catch-all solution to covering whatever everyone else in the household might be up to. 

Tim Martin, General Manager - Media, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Since the start of 2013, the proportion of home internet subscribers with an unlimited data allowance has grown by over 50%. The proportion with 300GB or more but not unlimited is up 75%.  

“As well, the proportion of people who don’t know or can’t say their data limit has fallen from almost 1 in 2 in the first quarter of 2013 to 1 in 3 in the latest quarter to June 2014. Internet service providers need to keep a close eye on Australians’ changing internet consumption habits, and identify which types of people and households know exactly how much data they use and need.

“Some people want to pay for only as much as they need, others will go up a plan level just to be safe, and others would rather go straight for unlimited access so they never have to worry about what their kids or housemates might be doing.”  

For comments or more information please contact:

Tim Martin, General Manager – Media
Telephone: +61 (3) 9224 5116

Please click on this link to the Roy Morgan Online Store

Related Research

View our profiles of Australians by Internet Activities, Internet Service Providers, or Internet Expenditure.  

About Roy Morgan Research

Roy Morgan Research is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state of Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan Research has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate



25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%