It’s “Mobile Data December” as South Africa’s 35-million cellular users up their mobile data consumption in pursuit of a more festive season.
“Whether it’s online shopping, travel bookings or social media postings, South Africans are already heating up their handsets as the country cruises towards the December holiday break,” says Ongopotse Motlhanke of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association of SA (WASPA).
Most users are now familiar with such data-saving advice as turning off automatic updates and requesting the network to SMS data balance updates. These are two great tips but WASPA also offers some less obvious, but equally-effective, data-saving hints:
* The hardware you buy determines the data you’ll use. If motorists consider the size engine against the fuel a vehicle is likely to consume, why shouldn’t mobile users also weight up their hardware choices against data likely to be consumed? A high-performance mobile device predictably needs a lot more data to keep the lights on.
* Take another look at free public WiFi. Some mobile users have historically baulked at the idea of spending money on coffee just to be able to use a restaurant’s free WiFi. Consider that the cost of a good Americano plus tip these days is about R25. If you had to buy R25 worth of mobile data from one particular South African cellular network, you’d get 100 megabytes. By spending around an hour at your local free WiFi hotspot, you could download hundreds of megabytes of data – updating all your mobile apps – for the price of a cup of coffee.
* We all make mistakes. Sooner or later, the average mobile user will download an entire video-on-demand movie over 3G. When that dreaded “airtime depleted” message pops up on your screen on Day 4 of what was supposed to be your new data month, you’ll turn pale and wish you remembered to learn how to easily switch mobile data on and off on your phone, tablet or laptop. Do not trust that your device will switch to WiFi when downloading huge files – physically go to Settings and switch off mobile data yourself.
* If you’re on a prepaid or top-up mobile data option, carefully weigh-up the advantages of buying large amounts of data bundles for the bulk savings against the likelihood of the above scenario happening. If you buy smaller data bundles on a more regular basis, there’s less chance of a much bigger bundle being depleted all at once because of some Settings-related mistake.
“Mobile technology exists to be used and enjoyed. Using data carefully means you’ll be able to direct more of it towards the things you love about mobile,” Motlhanke says.