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Applications along with social networking, high definition cameras, gaming, and e-mail  among other things, are true data hogs as our smartphones have practically become handheld personal computers in our pockets.

Anyone with a smartphone is comfortable with the term “app”. Apps are the tidy little packages programmers put together so that you can get instant notifications of the latest news, play your favorite games or any number of really ingenious tools that will help you identify a bird call. The number of apps available to you are pretty much endless and most of them are free to download.

But, have you been receiving notices from your cell phone carrier that you are using so much data that they have to charge you more?  You might have a “smart data hog”.

What you won’t realize when you download that really cool app is that there can be constant updates or “pushes” to your cell phone via that app which uses data. In some cases it can be up to 1mb of data, which if duplicated multiple times a day can increase your already much-to-expensive cell phone bill higher and higher. Additional data fees can cost around $15 per additional GB.

Understanding Data Measurement
1,024 kilobyte (kb) = 1 megabyte (mb)
1,024 mb = 1 gigabyte (gb)

If you are an avid Facebook app user, it’s not uncommon to use 1.5mb each time you refresh your news feed depending on how many photos are on your wall. Doing this multiple times a day can push you over your data quota quickly.
The same with news and information feeds depending on the content.

HOW TO CONTROL YOUR DATA USAGE

iPhone
Easiest Option: Download My Data Manager to see what apps are using your data.

  • Be sure to update your cell phone to the latest iOS. The latest update has a function where you can turn off each individual app’s access to cellular data. This means the app will only download data via WiFi, which will not affect your data usage.
  • If you do not have the latest iOS, you can go to “Settings” > “General” > “Cellular Data” to turn off all cellular data usage. This will affect all data over cellular and force it to use WiFi, which is great if you are somewhere you can access WiFi, not so much if you are traveling, but it allows you to control when you use your data.
  • Try to limit apps that have regularly pushed content – such as stock quotes, weather updates, live sports scores or any such thing — as your smartphone will use up data on an ongoing basis.
  • Turn off “push” mail if you really don’t need to know whenever an email comes in right away. Then, when in a WiFi hotspot, pull it all down. Also, enter your email settings to choose “View only,” rather than downloading a full attachment.

Adroid

  • If your phone is running Android 4.0 and above, you can go to “Settings”> “Data usage” to see a visual of exactly which app is using the most cellular data. You’ll know exactly which one is the smart data hog. Once you have identified the app, tap on it and scroll all the way down to the bottom. Check the box “restrict background data”. This will prevent the app from accessing cellular data, but still work with WiFi.

No Worry Plans
If you are lucky enough to have coverage and a great all-inclusive plan from your cell phone carrier which includes unlimited data – then you are all set!  But, for most of us we run into the challenge of what carriers are available in our geographic location and the plans they have to offer.

Cell phone carriers are becoming more competitive and we are seeing companies such as Boost Mobile offering a great plan at a great FLAT RATE which is all inclusive and super affordable with plans starting at just $40/month, but unfortunately they simply do not have the geographical coverage other carriers have.

A Closer Look… 

In time, other carriers will realize the benefits of offering lower plans that include all minutes, texts and data for one low price. This would eliminate the need for the customer to go through the hassle of creating a “framily” or have to worry about an unexpected increase to their cell phone budget.

Today, the average cell phone customer pays $140/month for their smart phone. Because cell phones seem to be a unique appendage for each person, for a family of four that is $560 PER MONTH added to their budget  – thats a $1680 per person or a whopping  $6720 per household per year!

If the major cell phone companies could realize an average of $40 for all inclusive cell plans families could pay just $160/month for a family of four or $1920/year – A HUGE SAVINGS and big impact on household budgets, not to mention relief from worry about added unexpected data charges.

In 2013 the average U.S. household income was $51,4041
For a family of four, that’s approximately 7.5% of their income for the year spent on telecommunications.

 

WashingtonPost.com