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WebWise news report - mobile contracts

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Hajar Javaheri Hajar Javaheri | 12:40 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

A report from Billmonitor – the Ofcom-approved mobile phone comparison site – suggests that 76% of mobile phone users are on the wrong contract when it comes to getting the best value for money for their phone usage. The report claims consumers in the UK are overspending by £5 billion a year on mobile phone contracts.

Analysing over 28,000 bills and comparing them with 8 million contract types available in March 2011, Billmonitor found that most phone users were doing one of two things: either under-using texts, data and minutes allowances and therefore paying too high a monthly fee, or they were paying too small a monthly fee only to then be stung by high charges when they went over their data, call and text limits.

Dr Stelios Koundouros, one of the company’s founders, expects that with the rise of smartphones, consumers will also encounter issues when choosing the best data tariff.

He advises “data is tricky because you don't know what data translates to looking at a web page or downloading a movie”.

The average monthly data usage in the study was 133 megabytes, but different handsets would use this up at different rates. A high-powered smartphone with lots of features, a large high resolution screen and smooth video streaming functionality is likely to use up data far quicker than a lower spec phone with fewer capabilities.

Phone companies often provide guidelines on how much data is used when sending an email or streaming a video, so it’s important to take this into account and spend time thinking about how you’ll use data before tying yourself into a long-term contract.

The latest handset will always boost the monthly price, but if you only need a phone for calls and the occasional email, it’s worth asking yourself whether the latest model is really the best option for you.

If you'd like to see whether your current mobile contract is right for you, you can get a personalised report on the Billmonitor website.

Read the full BBC News Technology report 'Mobile phone users 'overpaying by £200' per year'.

What happened when Hajar needed a new smartphone? Read her blog on mobile apps.

Hajar is part of the WebWise production team and has also made award-winning programmes for BBC Radio. In her spare time she loves reading, writing and singing.

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