How Long Does 15GB of Mobile Hotspot Last?


The origination of hotspots is owed to a need for those who were away from home to get stuff done, with just enough data to do what needed doing, and that would be the end of it. However, the world has changed, and hotspots (MiFi) are becoming more and more important for life on the go. 

Quick Answer

The truth is, 15GB isn’t going to get you much. Doing everything in low-definition, especially streaming music, would give you about 50 hours before it’s gone. Streaming, even at 720p, would eat up your 15GB in about a day. 

It used to be that music wasn’t such a big deal in terms of chewing up all of your hard-earned data. That’s changing too and quicker than you might imagine, especially with the combined use of lossless audio, hi-res, spatial audio, and Dolby Atmos. 

How Much Data Does Music Use?

A couple of years ago, this would have been an easy answer. As an audio-only streaming service, music has never eaten up too much data at one time. However, that has changed, especially with Apple, Spotify, Amazon, and almost every other music streaming service going to hi-res.

For instance, under normal, standard definition music, 10GB of storage space on your phone will hold around 3,000 songs. That’s quite a lot. But, consider the fact that hi-res, lossless audio would allow you to store just 200 songs on 10GB of storage. 

Thankfully, you don’t have to listen to music at that level of definition. However, Apple doesn’t exactly let you know which songs you listen to are hi-res. When you choose songs, you can see what is what, but when you are just listening, and it’s randomized, you don’t. 

Lossless Audio 3-Minute Songs

  • High-efficiency: 1.5MB
  • High-Quality: 6MB
  • Lossless at 24-bit: 36MB
  • Hi-Res Lossless at 24-bit: 145MB

Hi-res lossless will burn through 145MB every three minutes, which means that a full hour will equal 2.8GB of data, and that is enough to listen for a little over 5 hours before you run out of your 15GB of data. 

So, as you can see, that’s a completely different dynamic, and it’s difficult to resist, for once you hear music in hi-res lossless, you won’t want to listen to it any other way. Even knowing that listening at standard high efficiency will give you 510 hours of listening time.

How Much Data Does Video Use?

Video is a much different dynamic. In fact, if you only have 15GB on your hotspot plan, you probably won’t be watching videos very often, as that is the single fastest way to use up your 15GB of data. 

For streaming services such as YouTube, you can go in and reduce the resolution to something more reasonable, and it will give you some more time, assuming that you can stomach watching video resolution as if you were watching a cathode-ray TV from 1965.

Video Streaming Resolution – 5 Minutes

  • 240p: 8MB
  • 360p: 13MB
  • 480p:  20MB
  • 720p: 37MB
  • 1080p: 62MB
  • 4k: 1,165MB

The higher you go, the more ridiculous it gets. When you only have 15MB, you’re strictly limited to standard music and low definition video streaming. Of course, this also doesn’t take into consideration all of the things that are going on in the background that eat up data.

For example, every single time that Facebook refreshes in the background, it uses up roughly 50KB. While that doesn’t seem like much, add that together with every background app you have running, on top of GPS location services and so many other background activities. 

If you want a bird’s eye view of what is going on in the background, you should check your apps to see which ones are actively refreshing in the background. 

Should You Get a Larger Hotspot Plan?

That really depends on you. What are you using it for? Do you use it frequently? Are you on the road a lot? Do your kids or family members need it often? There are a lot of factors to consider.

Fortunately, cellular carriers are starting to come around to this, with the understanding that hotspot data is becoming more and more necessary, and the data that we use is becoming exponentially larger than the data that we consumed just two years ago.

T-Mobile Verizon AT&T
T-Mobile Magenta Max Verizon Do More Unlimited AT&T 100GB
$85.00/mo. per line $80.00/mo. per line $55.00/mo. per line
4G or 5G speeds 5G speeds Lower speeds but more data
Unlimited Option for more  Upgrade for 5G
Can use as a mobile phone plan Discounted, additional hotspot plans Includes talk and text

Each of them has its pros and cons, but, the point is that these carriers are getting on board with providing more hotspot data to their customers simply because it is in demand, and there’s no getting around that. 

Some of the lower-tiered hotspot plans are on their way out. These carriers are realizing that 15GB, 20GB, and even 25GB hotspot plans are ridiculous, especially considering how technology has improved. It’s reached a point where low data hotspot plans just aren’t going to cut it any longer. 

Fortunately, most of these unlimited or large GB hotspot plans are incorporated into existing plans without driving up the costs of those same plans. Most, if not all, of the major carrier networks are on board with larger GB plans.

Also, some of the smaller carriers are getting on board as well. This means that your hotspot data is liable to change soon, and it will most likely happen without a major increase in your cell phone bill.


So 15GB isn’t going to get you much unless you are strictly using documents, such as Excel, Word, or Google Docs, as well as email and/or downloading forms. Your regular work that involves little more than paperwork will never require more than 15GB.

However, suppose you enjoy some of the newer, hi-res, and lossless audio options and watching 4K video streaming. In that case, you’re in luck, as the major carrier networks are growing their hotspot plans as a response to the increased data consumption in America. 

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