The days of the unlimited mobile data plan are going the way of the Dodo. The future of mobile data looks increasingly expensive as carriers switch to capped data plans to increase revenue.
Ironically these plan changes come on the heals of support for bandwidth-intensive features like the ability to tether your laptop to your phone or stream music and movies through apps like Spotify and Netflix. In other words, there's more data than ever headed through your mobile connection and you could end up with a horrendous data bill if you aren't paying attention.
Here's our guide to tracking your mobile data usage and some tips on how to keep it down.
The best way to avoid going over your bandwidth caps is the make sure you know exactly how much you've used.
For Verizon phone just dial #DATA (#3282) and hit Send. Verizon will send back the total data usage for the current billing cycle. Alternately you can login to the Verizon website and check out the " my data usage]" section.
Dial *DATA# (*3282#) and hit Send on your phone, and AT&T will send you a text with your data usage for the current period. You can also login to the AT&T wireless website and head to Bill & Payments where you need to click the "Create a Billing Report" link and choose "Data Usage Trend."
Dial *4 on your phone and then hit 4 again to hear the extended menu options. Somewhere in there you should hear an option to have your data usage read back to you. The awkward downside: Sprint has opted to read your data back in kilobytes.
T-mobile doesn't currently provide a service for monitoring data usage because their unlimited data plan is still actually unlimited, though they will warn you if you exceed 5MB. You can also check your past months' data usage by logging onto your account on the T-mobile website, or you can use a work-around method of monitoring.
There's an App for that
Yes there are apps for all the major platforms that will track your data usage, but not all of them are created equal. For iOS on AT&T there's AT&T's own myAT&T, which in our experience crashes a lot, but when it works it does give you the info you seek. There's also Data Man ($2) which can track cellular usage and even send you real-time alerts.
What Can I get for 2GB?
A fair bit as it turns out, but what seems like a lot for a phone is decidedly less for those that tether their laptop. Assuming video services stream roughly 2.5-5MB per minute (depending on the quality of video) that means a 2GB plan will let you watch roughly 10-13 hours of video. That's probably fine for your phone, but if you're using it to tether as well you'll want to upgrade to as much data as you can afford.
Tricks, Tips and Ways to Cut Your Data Usage
- Try Onavo -- This iPhone and iPad application says it can effectively double or even triple your data plan by compressing much of the data you use while surfing the web or using apps. The app also currently shirnks web pages, app data and Google maps, but not video.
- Opera Mini -- Similar to Onavo, the Opera Mini web browser first compresses webpages on Opera's servers before sending it on to your phone, saving those precious megabytes.
Original article by Scott Gilbertson. Video appearance by Ryan Singel.
This page was last modified 20:07, 16 September 2011 by howto_admin.