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5 Ways to Burn through Your Data Plan and Rack up Your Bill

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With increased data speeds on mobile networks and devices (and there seems to be an app for everything), we are doing more than we ever have before…most couldn’t imagine life without them.  With great bandwidth comes great responsibility.   Some people get so lost in what their mobile devices can do that they forget the consequences. 

Stream Video and Play Games

movies

With all the video streaming services available these days, on a variety of mobile devices, it’s easy to forget the amount of data it takes to utilize them.  Verizon has an online calculator that estimates your data use by type of device, and hours of each type of activity.  This tool can be helpful, but I’ve found estimates for data use vary widely by source when researching this topic.  Just keep in mind, as a general rule, games with more intense graphics and resolution consume more data.

Ignore Free Wi-Fi

WIFI

Free Wi-Fi saves on battery life and leaves your data plan untouched.  Many of us have a wireless router at home and free Wi-Fi at work, but use our mobile data plans instead.  Typically, most of our usage is either at home or at work on a typical weekday.  Not using Wi-Fi is an easy and unnecessary way to consume your data allotment.

Leave the US without a Plan

international-travel

International Data allotments are often a small fraction of what you get with your domestic plan.  It’s easy to forget when you’re traveling; taking pictures and videos of your journey and uploading them to social media.  Your international plans are usually small and the overages are usually huge.  With Verizon, international data in Canada and Mexico are .002 and .005 cents per KB, but the rest of the world is .02 per KB.  That’s $20.48 to download a 1MB e-mail!  You can add a data plan of 100MB for $25 (and an additional 100MB for $25 as you go over), but you have to be aware of which countries are eligible for this plan.  Costa Rica for example, is $20.48 per MB whether you have the plan or not.

Download Apps that Burn up Data

apps

When considering a car, you’re told what mileage to expect (city vs highway).  Apps should come with the same disclosure for data usage.   The popular Netflix App uses 4.2GB per month on average.  CTIA has a new site, http://knowmyapp.org, which provides a helpful guide to expose the data guzzling behemoths.  They also recommend that you do the following:

  • Adjust your apps' settings to stop or minimize updates unless you're on a secure Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Minimize apps that aren't in use so they're not running in the background
  • Uninstall any apps you don't use

Let the Whole Family Connect to Your Data

family

Taking your Mi-Fi hotspot up to the cabin with the family?  Are they bringing their Wi-Fi devices?  Make sure you know who is connecting and what they’re doing.  Your plan may be to get caught up on e-mails on your vacation…but if the kids are playing games and watching animated videos on their tablets, you can rip through data pretty quickly.

Recap

to do

There are a few easy ways to get yourself in big trouble with your Mobile Data Plan, but if you watch out for these common mistakes, there’s no reason you can’t avoid a huge wireless bill.   To recap:

  • Minimize the video streaming and gaming on your mobile device, unless you have the data plan to accommodate it
  • Make sure your phone has access to your frequented Wi-Fi networks and is set to connect to them when available
  • Stay on top of international rates and options
  • Be careful what apps you are using and get rid of apps you don’t use
  • Protect your Mi-Fi devices with a password to limit who is connecting

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January 01, 2014 / Brian Dykhuizen
Telecom Guide