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How much mobile data does Zoom use?

Make sure you’ve got enough data for your WFH setup.

Alex Kidman
Aug 02, 2023
Icon Time To Read2 min read

For many businesses, Zoom has rapidly become a must-have tool in the everyday work arsenal. That’s fine when you’re in a working Wi-Fi zone, because you probably don’t even think about how much data the app is using on a connection that you can generally assume is unlimited.

But what about if you’re on the road, using Zoom via mobile broadband or a mobile device? For most plans in Australia, you’re still sitting on some kind of data cap, and all of a sudden those must-have meetings could become rather expensive.

How expensive? It depends.

First, there’s the issue of what Zoom itself reckons that you need for a successful video meeting. Here’s the official guidelines:

Zoom data for one-on-one video calling:

  • For high-quality video: 600kbps (up/down)
  • For 720p HD video: 1.2Mbps (up/down)
  • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)

Zoom data for group video calling:

  • For high-quality video: 1.0 Mbps/600kbps (up/down)
  • For 720p HD video: 2.6Mbps/1.8Mbps (up/down)
  • For 1080p HD video: 3.8Mbps/3.0Mbps (up/down)
  • For gallery view receiving: 2.0Mbps (25 views), 4.0Mbps (49 views)
  • For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail): 50-75kbps
  • For screen sharing with video thumbnail: 50-150kbps
  • For audio VoiP: 60-80kbps
  • For Zoom Phone: 60-100kbps

Recommended Zoom bandwidth for webinar attendees:

For panellists with video on:

  • ~600kbps (down) for high-quality video
  • ~1.2-1.8Mbps (down) for 720p HD video
  • ~2-3Mbps (down) for 1080p HD video
  • For screen sharing only (no video thumbnail): 50-75kbps (down)
  • For screen sharing with video thumbnail: 50-150kbps (down)
  • For audio VoiP: 60-80kbps (down)

There’s a lot of variability in those figures and a lot of ways you could minimise your data usage, or for that matter chew up a lot more data than you intended.

As a general rule of thumb, even at lower video quality settings in a 1:1 call environment, you’re looking at around 540MB per hour for a Zoom meeting, but that could peak to 2GB or more per hour at 1080p quality or with multiple meeting attendees.

For most broadband plans you’ve typically got unlimited data usage to play with, but it’s worth keeping those speeds in mind, especially if you’re on a lower-tier NBN plan. Other family members using a 12/1 or 25/5 connection could see your Zoom call quality dip markedly.

The solution there is to spend the right amount on a decently quick NBN plan. Here’s a selection of the best 50/20MBps NBN plans:

See this month's best NBN plans

Every single month, the team of editors and database managers at meet up to score and rank the very best NBN internet plans in Australia. 

How much data does Zoom use if I’m just on my phone?

Zoom doesn’t give you the same granular controls around video quality as you get with the desktop client if you’re dialling into that meeting from your iPhone or Android phone.

Most tests show that the mobile version of Zoom uses between 800MB-1GB per hour of usage on mobile devices. That may vary depending on network conditions – and to an extent to the quality of your phone’s selfie camera – but it’s as good a benchmark as any.

What that means is that if you’re someone who needs to make regular Zoom meetings via mobile, you need a plan with plenty of data on board. A plan with only 10GB of included data might only cover you for 10 working hours of Zoom calls, and that’s presuming that you’re using data for no other purpose whatsoever.

Here’s a selection of plans with at least 40GB of data. That’s a full 40 hour working week’s worth of Zoom calls to use over your contract month, and in some cases quite a bit more:

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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