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How to Guard against LTE Phone Billing Shock Over the Holiday Season

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top_5_phones_20122By Martin Walshaw, F5 Senior Engineer

With the range of LTE-compatible smart phones recently being released on to the market, many South Africans are looking forward to enjoying super-high data speeds on their new smart phones over the holidays. But while data is getting faster, it isn’t getting any cheaper, and new users may be in for a bill shock in January.

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, and is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and handheld devices. It is sometimes called 4G because of the significant improvements it offers over older cellular communication standards.  “While this high-speed data is a great thing for accessibility and usability, it may not be such a great thing for your wallet,” says Martin Walshaw, a senior engineer at networking company F5.

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“In the past, slow connection speeds helped to curtail the overuse of data, but with LTE, it’s possible to rack up massive data use pretty quickly.”  He advises taking the following steps to curb your data usage on your new, LTE phone:

Download an app to monitor your data usage

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Download an app to monitor your data usage hourly and let you know when you reach certain pre-set limits. Try Onavo Count for iOS or Android, 3G Watchdog for Android or DataMan Pro for iOS.

And stick to your limits.

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Buy a data bundle

Data is cheaper if you purchase an add-on to your contract that’s dedicated to data use. Speak to your service provider about your average data usage to decide on the bundle that’s right for you. Keep an eye on your bill and purchase a bundle for a larger data amount if you frequently exceed your original purchase.

Get your service provider to send you an alert

You can request that your service provider sends you an SMS alert when you’ve exceeded a certain data limit. This lets you know when you’re “over the limit”, but it’s up to you to quit driving on the information superhighway after that.

Use Wi-Fi whenever you can

If the airport, coffee shop, hotel or friend you’re visiting has a Wi-Fi connection, ask for the code and connect to it. You’ll save a fortune in incidental data costs by avoiding using the cellular network when you can.

Be extra careful if you’re roaming

Visit your service provider to find out the costs of data when you’re roaming. Many people elect to switch off their data capabilities while travelling outside of the country because the costs are just too high. If you don’t go this route, make sure you use a combination of the other points mentioned here to monitor and control your usage.

“LTE-enabled phones have the potential to make our connectivity experience more efficient and more convenient and open up a world of opportunities; just remember that with great high-speed power, comes great cost-control responsibility,” says Walshaw.

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