How to Put Your Data Hungry iPhone on a Diet
In the wake of AT&T's announcement to cap data plans and begin charging for usage, more than 25 million iPhone data plan subscribers nationwide may wonder how to determine their usage and ultimately, how to reduce it.
AT&T is the first wireless provider to cut unlimited plans from its offerings, presumably due to the fact that as the exclusive carrier for the iPhone, its average iPhone customer uses 10 times or more data than other phone users. And with the new iPhone 4 due out on June 24 with beefed up video capabilities, the temptation to use more data may prove irresistible — and expensive.
Users of even hungrier data devices like iPads connected to 3G cellular networks will also face data caps. No one wants the shock of charges for exceeding data limits, which in the case of AT&T would amount to $15 for an additional 200 megabytes of data for the billing period on top of the $15 charged for under its DataPlus plan with 200MB. In other words: Indulging in that one extra YouTube video could result in double the monthly fee.
Sending and receiving emails, adding and viewing email attachments, posting photos, viewing Web pages, streaming music, downloading apps, and watching video all consume data, but it's the streaming video that quickly mounts up. Watch a single 45-minute TV show on iTunes and you'll hit the 200MB limit.
The key to reducing data fees without sacrificing entertainment is to shift consumption from the cellular service to a WiFi or proximity-based networks.
Boris Bogatin is the chief executive officer of Nearverse and recently launched LoKast, a location-based application for the iPhone designed to allow users to share media between nearby devices off the cellular network.
Bogatin told TechNewsDaily that the average LoKast user saved 5MB of data per month by using the NearVerse network, which can function 5 to 10 times faster than AT&T's 3G network.
"LoKast is an innovative way to share media without eating up as many megabytes," Bogatin said. "LoKast always picks the best available network to use – 3G, WiFi, or Bluetooth – and as long as you're within 300 feet, chances are that you are sharing without eating into your broadband data plan cap.”
Lokast is available free from iTunes and has over 160,000 users according to Bogatin.
In addition to using proximity apps, Bogatin also had these tips for reducing mobile data usage:
Use Wi-Fi whenever possible. Downloading apps, streaming video and music over Wi-Fi is the way to save big. AT&T's new tiered data plans include unlimited free WiFi access at its 20,000 hotspots across the country, including at Starbucks. iPhones have built-in Wi-Fi, which lets the devices automatically switch from AT&T's 3G network to a Wi-Fi hotspot without any prompting. Wi-Fi will generally provide consistently faster speeds and does not count against a customer’s monthly data plan usage total.
Using Bluetooth, WiFi and other cutting edge short-range network technologies is key. "We are big fans of FlashLinq by Qualcomm – they are after a really effective way to let users interact without having to use the infrastructure-centric and capacity-expensive networks," Bogatin said.
In all cases, cell phone owners should be mindful about how much data has been debited from their account and regularly check their data usage as they would check their voice minutes.
To find out how much data has been used, iPhone customers can use the free AT&T my Wireless application available in the iTunes App Store or call *DATA# from their phones to check current usage. With its new plans, AT&T will send subscribers email or text message warnings when they approach 60, 90 and 100 percent of their package limit.