Mobile phone data has long been the most expensive part of any mobile phone plan. And with fewer companies offering unlimited data these days, data saving is becoming a must. But if you're a big internet user, then you might be interested in rolling over your data. What do we mean? Read on to find out more about data rollover and which companies allow it.
The Data Problem
Data is pricey. Going online, using apps with ads running, VOIP calls over Skype, messaging through WhatsApp, all these things chip away at your mobile data limit. It can be tempting to get a phone plan that contains tons of data, just to be safe, but with prices going ever upwards, this can be an expensive proposition.
Of course, the best solution to the data problem is to know exactly how much data you need. But that can be tough too since your usage might vary month to month. Go too big and you'll pay for data you don't use, go too small and you'll be stuck with hefty bills for extra data charged at premium prices. There could be another solution though…
What is Data Rollover?
Data rollover is a relatively new idea in the UK. The idea is that you have a monthly data limit, say 4 GB a month. But if you use only 1 GB of data in a certain month, some or all of that extra 3 GB of data is added on to next month's data limit, giving you up to 7 GB of data the next month. This has its pros and cons, and not all networks will allow you to do it, but it could be a workable solution for some people, especially if your data usage varies a lot each month.
Which Operators Allow Data Rollover?
Currently only six UK operators offer data rollover, and conditions vary quite a bit. But if you're interested in this solution then here are your options.
is the biggest UK operator to offer data rollover, however, they do NOT offer rollover on regular contract data. That means that the monthly data limit in your phone plan cannot be passed along to next month. However, if you have a “bolt on” that includes extra data, then this data can be rolled over. This isn't ideal, but it's better than nothing. So if you have say, a medium phone plan with a bolt on of an extra 1 GB of data, that extra data can be saved up and used the next month.
offers rollover, but only to Pay As You Go users that are using the Big Value Bundle. You need to top up your plan within thirty days of your last top up and any unused data will roll over into the next thirty day period. However, you can NOT rollover data for more than one period (so if you don't use the extra data in the second thirty day period it will be lost).
automatically rolls over unused data at the end of every month for no charge and without you having to do anything. The unused data will be used up first, before the actual month's data is touched. You can only roll data over for a month, however, at the end of the second month it will be lost.
have the best rollover option for most people. Anyone on a 12 month, 24 month, or 1 month SIM Only contract can roll over unused data to the following month. Again though, you can only rollover for one month to stop you building up a huge stock of unused data. However, iD Mobile use up your rolled over data first, before dipping into your monthly allowance, so this shouldn't be a problem. Unused data from January will be rolled over to February and used up before February's data is touched, and any unused data from February can be rolled over to March, and so on.
has a very unique rollover plan which allows you to save all your unused data for up to three years in an online “piggy bank” which you can use any time you like. Even better, if you're on a family plan, you can all share a piggy bank meaning any of you can use that extra data if you need it, no matter who originally banked it.
does have a rollover plan, but it's a little limited. You have to pay £1.49 a month to roll over a maximum of 500 MB of data. That means that if you have 1.5 GB of data left over you can only rollover a third of that for the monthly fee. You can, however, continue to roll over at a maximum of 500 MB a month for the same monthly fee up to a limit of 20 GB over time. Still, with that 500 MB a month limit, getting to 20 GB of saved data is going to take a while…
Is Data Rollover the Best Option?
If you use seriously different amounts of data every month then data rollover is probably a good option. Though be aware that some networks offer other solutions. O2, for example, will let you buy packages of extra data to add on to your limit on a month by month basis if you happen to run out. And since most operators don't let you roll data over indefinitely, this isn't a perfect solution, since you could run out of data the next month even if you have a little left over from two months ago.
On the whole, data rollover is a bit of a failsafe. It shouldn't be relied upon, but it's handy every now and again. If you experience a lot of variation in your data usage, you're probably going to end up being better off with a regular data plan and then extra data packages when you run out, though this means you'll need to stay on top of your usage so you know when you're about to run out.
But with big names like O2 and Vodafone getting into the rollover market, we're likely to see data rollover become standard in the next couple of years, which for some of us could mean savings on our phone bills.