VoIP data usage is a legitimate question, especially if you use your limited mobile data plan for other purposes as well. Remember, though, that the moment your device connects to a Wi-Fi network, mobile data consumption stops and the remaining data is saved until you leave the proximity of the Wi-Fi network you are connected to. But the world is unfortunately not covered by a gigantic network of Wi-Fi hotspots (yet), so it is best to keep in mind how much data should be taken into consideration when placing and receiving a VoIP call.
Before starting a VoIP conversation over your smartphone, it’s best to do the math and estimate the approximate data usage because the different VoIP apps don’t all consume the same amount of data. The easiest method is to check out what codec your VoIP provider utilizes: it is usually G.729, which consumes 32 kb/s (kilobit per second). If we multiply that amount with 60 and then divide the new amount with eight then we can already get an approximate data usage of an outbound VoIP call, which is 240KB per minute. Multiply that value by two, convert kilobytes to megabytes and we can conclude that one minute VoIP conversation consumes ca 0.5MB of data.
In other words, using your data plan instead of your minute plan is a no-brainer: if you have 1GB of mobile net or more, you can place and receive hundreds if not thousands of calls, since VoIP data consumption will remain insignificant even if your provider uses another, ‘hungrier’ codec. And if you are worrying about video calls, don’t: one second of video using the h.264 codec consumes about 64KB per second, meaning an average of 3.75MB per minute usage or 4 hours and 45 minutes for 1GB – which is more than enough.
Another issue that usually concerns users is bandwidth, but in case of VoIP mobile calls it won’t be a problem at all – just be conscious of it. Granted, on a regular computer where VoIP calls run simultaneously with other apps and programs that consume data bandwidth this is indeed something that needs to be taken into consideration.
But hitting the streets is a totally different situation: in this case you have to use the mobile network with other users and unlike your regular internet, where there are virtually no limits of how much data can be used, your resources are indeed limited. To make sure VoIP calls are of the best quality, simply turn off apps you don’t need – those in particular that either play videos automatically or load pictures/videos in HD by default (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – and change settings in such way that updates only arrive via Wi-Fi. And to further assure you that your phone won’t consume more data than is necessary for the VoIP call, check data usage on your phone to get a sense of how much data is consumed by the VoIP app on its own and which apps should be temporarily turned off for the best call experience.
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