Quantified Awesome: Analyzing my cellphone data

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I’m curious about how much I use my cellphone, and for what purposes. Does it make sense to switch plans? What do the patterns tell me about how I communicate?

The Fido network website allows me to download a CSV of my usage, and I pulled in all the data available. In addition to the call data, I’ve been copying the summary data (daytime minutes, etc.) into another worksheet so that I can estimate how much I would pay with different cellphone plans. From there, I can come up with questions and neat graphs. I have summary data going back to Jan 2011, and I have detailed call data going back to March 2011. There’s a little fuzziness about dates because my billing cycle ends on the 11th of a month, but it should be fine for data analysis. In general, the month is the month of the bill.

How have my call patterns changed since I started my own business?


I took a vacation in May and October, which accounts for most of the dips in calls. I spend more time on incoming calls than on ongoing calls, as I prefer to send text or e-mail messages instead.

Am I on the phone a lot more now that I’m in business compared to when I was an employee?


This box and whisker plot shows that on average, I spend more time on the phone now that I’m in business. I’ve only been in business for five months and I’m comparing it with eight months of employee data, so it’s hard to tell if this pattern will continue. Still, it’s interesting to see the average shift. If you’re curious, I followed this tutorial on creating box and whisker plots in Microsoft Excel 2010.

What about text messages?


I send a lot of international text messages, mostly to my mom. =) I also send quite a few Canadian messages, mostly to Twitter. In May, we were in the Netherlands to attend Kathy’s wedding, so we coordinated plans through texting.

I haven’t been sending anything nearly like the 579 text messages that I sent in July 2006, though. Partly it’s because Canada is growing on me – some cellphone plans charge for incoming messages here (I know! Boggle), so I don’t want to inconvenience my friends. Partly it’s because I’ve been in introvertish mode. Partly it’s because I’m married and like spending most of my discretionary time with my husband, so I’m organizing fewer get-togethers and the like. (I’m also texting said husband less, because we can just talk to each other.)

When am I on the phone?


Travelling across timezones messes up my data, so I filtered this report to remove any calls while roaming networks. Most of my calls are during business hours. Some are after for a part-time project that I’ve been supporting, and there were a few late conference calls that I joined as well. Some late-night calls were about production issues – side-effect of taking on the system administration role in many of my projects!

On what days of the week am I on the phone?


I use my phone primarily for work, which is why you see so much more activity from Monday to Friday. I do get the occasional Saturday or Sunday call, sometimes about production issues that I need to look into. Thursday seems to have a lot of following-up-on-plans-for-the-weekend calls.

What do I want to do about this data?

I wanted to know if my cellphone plan is the right balance for me. After crunching the numbers, I’ve concluded that:

  • among Fido plans, my plan is pretty decent
  • Mobilicity is tempting, but reviews are mixed
  • WIND Mobile is probably a good experiment; must decide whether I’d want unlimited data. Probably. I want unlimited battery life first! Ah, well…

Do I want to wait for a port-in credit promo (typically $100), take advantage of the current international texting promo, or wait for other kinds of promos? My expected annual value for international texting is $28.50 per year. I’ll probably get a lot of value from giving myself more permission to play with data. I think I’ll wait for the Samsung Galaxy S3, though, because the display looks promising and I want a phone that runs Ice Cream Sandwich.

I don’t mind waiting to see how things shake out. It’s nice to know I’m not missing out on any clearly superior choices, and to know what my triggers are for reevaluating my decision.

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com.