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An Australian carrier's 'free data' day was totally abused

One customer consumed more than 421 gigabytes.
GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images
GREG WOOD/AFP/Getty Images
Matt Brian
Matt Brian|@m4tt|February 15, 2016 8:27 AM

Mobile carriers rarely give anything away for free, so when Australian provider Telstra offered customers unlimited downloads for a whole day, they more than filled their pockets. To atone for a network outage last Tuesday, the operator turned its apology into a marketing stunt with the launch of "Free Mobile Data Sunday." There were no restrictions on what could be posted, browsed, shared and streamed, allowing Telstra customers to gobble up a record 1,841 terabytes of data in 24 hours.

In a statement, Telstra says it counted more than double the traffic it would normally see on a Sunday, which equates to around 5.1 million episodes of Game of Thrones or 23 million downloads of Kanye's latest The Life of Pablo album. It wasn't all sunshine and downloads, however, as the volume of traffic reduced speeds in some parts of Australia.

People like Reddit user DrRodneyMckay will have likely played a part in that. Telstra's 4G plans typically offer up to 8 gigabytes of data a month but on Valentine's Day, this customer gobbled more than 421 gigabytes.

Freed from a 1.5 Mbps ADSL broadband connection, DrRodneyMckay claims to have downloaded all 25 seasons of How It's Made, numerous other TV shows and backed up his entire Stream library (all 172 games) to offline storage via his tethered LG G4 (which peaked at 168 Mbps). Not bad for a day's work.

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An Australian carrier's 'free data' day was totally abused