We have all shared that shock when we open the phone bill to find an astronomical number in place of our monthly agreed amount. We keep a pretty good eye on a number of calls we make and know when we are calling long distance, but there is another option where many many people’s understanding falls a little short, and we pay for it.
The usual culprit? Cellular Data.
What is Cellular Data?
Your smartphone has two ways of accessing the Internet, either by using a WiFi network or by using the cellular data network offered by whichever carrier you use. WiFi uses radio frequencies to wirelessly transmit the Internet to your devices. Cellular data uses the same network provided by the cell towers that allow you to make phone calls. WiFi has a limited range, whereas cellular data is available as long as you are within your carrier’s coverage. Your Cellular plan likely comes with a certain amount of data, however, with applications on your phone getting more powerful and data hungry, our usage is going up and so are our bills!
The most data-hungry applications are the ones that stream video to your device like Youtube or Netflix, followed by web browsing and gaming applications. Thankfully there are ways to monitor exactly where your data is being used!
What can we do about it?
Monitor your data usage
The first step in limiting your data is learning what phone or tablet applications are using data allotment. The method on how you do this varies depending on your device operating system. For Android (pictured on the left below) you will need to access Settings > Network and Internet > Data Usage > Mobile Data usage. For Apple (pictured on the right below) a third party application for monitoring your data is necessary. We recommend a program called “My Data Manager” available here.
These programs will show you exactly what data you have been using over a certain time period and even better, allow you to set phone wide data limits and warnings. Giving you a heads up when you are coming close to your limit, and even, if you choose, putting on a hard stop on your data when you have reached your limit.
Limit certain Applications to only work on WiFi
Also accessible on this screen is the ability to limit certain applications. For instance, you may want to set Youtube and Netflix, two of the most guilty data using culprits, to ONLY work while on WiFi. Now perhaps you only use these applications at home anyway, but it’s not always easy to notice when, for whatever reason, your device disconnects from a local WiFi network and starts using cellular data. Setting these application-specific limits will prevent this issue.
Connect to every Wifi you find!
This is one of those common sense, but often overlooked avenues. Lots of kids will be very familiar with this one but there are still scads of adults that won’t ask for a friends / yoga studio / business wifi password, despite the amount of time we spend there. Once you input a Wifi Password into your phone, it will remember that WiFi forever. Turning 90% of the locations you visit into a Wifi hotspot, drastically improves your data usage. From sharing funny pictures to checking email to sharing Youtube videos, these add up. Applications will work away on your phone in the background (see background app refresh below) and passively use data and you know what they say, every little helps.
Turn off Background App refresh
Applications will work in the background even when you are not using them. A good step on any phone is to close down programs when you are not using them. Using an Apple phone, press the home button twice in succession and swipe away the programs. Android phones hand a dedicated button for this, select the bottom right square menu icon from the black bar, and likewise, swipe away the programs to close them. Surprisingly, even when closed, some programs continue to “check in” with their servers, costing you data. In Apple phones we have the option to turn off this background app refresh.
Go to Settings.
Tap “Background App Refresh”
Turn off Background App Refresh entirely by toggling it off,
This will not only save data but help conserve resources and battery life on your iPhone!
Your Cellphone provider
The reason My Tech Guys don’t provide phone plans and phones is that many of these companies do not adhere to the Customer Service Standards that we hold ourselves to. Did you know if you ask a phone company to cut you off when you hit a certain amount of data, they will categorically say NO. Not very helpful.
It is up to us to monitor our usage and if necessary, turn off data on our phone when we get close to the limit. At least following the above steps will let you know when you are close to over and buying top-up plans from your provider is cheaper than paying their normal overage fees. If after all these steps you are still going over, well then it is worth upgrading your plan!
To get a better deal, consider buying your phone outright if you can afford it. It’s pay now or pay later with most phones and you just inevitably end up paying more and getting less financing your phone in with your plan. For more cellphones do’s and don’ts, give us a call on 250-890-1065 or drop into one of our stores today!