What’s Eating My Data and How Much Do I Need?


Let’s first establish a few things about data usage and Scratch Wireless. 

  • Text Messaging – With our service, text messaging is always free. When you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, texts are sent over the Internet and never hit the Sprint cellular network. When you’re away from Wi-Fi, your texts are sent over the Sprint cellular network, and those data transfers are on us. They are always free and never use your data pass. So text away—we have you covered.
  • Wi-Fi – Whenever you’re connected to an active Wi-Fi network, your data will transfer over the Internet, not the Sprint cellular network. This is always free and does not access or tax your active data pass in any way. So whenever possible, log into a Wi-Fi network (home or public) and stream away, download those apps and MP3s, or spend some quality time with your selfies on Facebook.
  • Data Pass – The only time your data pass comes into play is when you’re away from Wi-Fi and want to have access to data over the Sprint cellular network. Examples of this might be navigating a car trip with Waze, streaming Pandora at the beach, or updating Facebook from a concert.


Understanding Data Usage

What’s the difference between Wi-Fi data and cellular data?

The answer is in how you connect and what it costs. Wi-Fi connects to the Internet via a wireless router and is generally free once you pay for the connection through your Internet service provider. Cellular uses a cellular network connecting through a tower, which typically requires some sort of data plan. In both cases you can use the Internet wirelessly on your smartphone.

How do we measure data?

For small-scale mobile devices like smartphones, data is measured in bits and bytes. For easy calculation, let’s follow these conversion rules:

8 bits = 1 byte

1000 bytes = 1 Kilobyte (KB)

1000 Kilobytes (KB) = 1 Megabyte (MB)

1000 Megabytes (MB) = 1 Gigabyte (GB)

Note:  These numbers are rounded for simplicity—in actuality, 1 MB = 1,024 KB, 1 GB = 1,024 MB

So what’s what...?

Now that you understand what data is and how it’s measured, here are some benchmarks to help you understand your usage and needs.

  • 1 Email – text only: 3 KB – 20 KB
  • Email – with photo attachment: 350 KB
  • 1 Web page: 150 KB – 1.5 MB
  • 1 minute of streaming music: 500 KB – that’s 30 MB/hour
  • Social media update with photo: 500 KB
  • Hi-res digital photo upload/download: 1 MB
  • 1 minute of streaming video (standard): 2 MB – that’s 120 MB/hour
  • 1 minute of streaming video (HD): 5 MB – that’s 300 MB/hour
  • App/game/song download: 3 MB – 4 MB

Here are some examples of how the above applies to our current data pass options:

30-Day/100 MB Pass will loosely allow for:

  • 500 text emails
  • 25 emails with photo attachments
  • 75 emails with other attachments
  • 30 social media posts with photos uploaded AND
  • 225 Web page views

30-Day/500 MB Pass will loosely allow for:

  • 2500 text emails
  • 125 emails with photo attachments
  • 375 emails with other attachments
  • 150 social media posts with photos uploaded AND
  • 1225 Web page views

If you want to mix and match your own data scenario, here’s a cool data calculator from Sprint:


Finally, if you want to keep track of your data, there are tons of tracking apps available through Google Play.

We like Onavo Count, and it’s free. You can set up alerts and customize it for your data limits. Check it out here: http://www.onavo.com/apps/android_count

If you have a data-tracking app you like, please don’t hesitate to give us your recommendation on our customer support page: https://scratchwireless.zendesk.com/


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  • Avatar
    Todd Reynolds

    This is worthless. I did none of the above, except check my email once while off WiFi. In one day my data pass was used up. Was it because the phone doesn't actually connect to WiFi all the time?

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