Here’s why you need to think about your mobile bill
The chart below explains in one image the reason you should check in on what you’re paying for your mobile bill at least once a year. It shows Cisco’s analysis of mobile data usage on mobile devices. Usage of mobile data is increasing by around 50% each year, compounded. Cisco’s analysis is representative of many similar findings by others who work in the industry. In simple terms, what that means is that if you do nothing, you will start paying for excess data at some point.
Especially affected are those who take a phone under contract. For example, when they sign up to their plan, they’re allocated 5GB of mobile data in their plan but they use only 4GB per month at the time. A year later, the same user’s mobile data needs have increased 50% to 6GB per month and they are paying $10 per month for the extra GB. And they’re obliged to by the contract they’ve signed.
When you’re checking your phone plan against the competition, consider these 4 points and you will save a great deal of money.
Buy your phone outright and add a SIM
Largely because of these structural changes seen in the industry, people have started buying their phone outright and adding a SIM Only plan themselves. A growing number of internet retailers, in your country and who operate on the grey market from any country, will sell you a smartphone with a single upfront cost.
Many find undertaking the transaction this way more familiar. It is the way you pay for every other piece of electronics in your life from laptop to watch.
Get Some information on your data usage & options
You need information in order to get a phone plan which is right for you. The most useful piece of information you can have relates to how much your data usage is now.
The easiest way to figure out how much you’re using is to use the on device data measurement facilities that your Operating System tracks. Android is better than iPhone for this at the moment but both will offer you some information.
Go to settings and then mobile data and take a look at how much you’ve used. In the example below, the answer is 1.6GB. Settings will also show you how long your ‘current period’ is on your iPhone.
Things are just as easy in Android – there’s just a lot more information on your data usage available.
The gap between Android and iPhone on inbuilt data management facilities can be largely filled by free data management apps such as MyDataManager which can be found in the iTunes store and is free of charge to use.
Consider smaller phone companies
Phone companies are now a mainstream part of our lives – something with which everyone interacts. With that familiarity comes a favouritis for known network / service providers. In the US, It’s AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and so on. In the UK, it’s EE, O2 and Vodafone.
Some of the best value plans are found with smaller phone companies, however. Behind AT&T or Vodafone are companies which use the same network and sell phone plans but which do so under brands different to those you now know (and probably dislike.) These niche focused telcos (In the industry, they’re called MVNOs or Mobile Virtual Network Operators) provide cut priced access to the same services. In practical terms this can mean that you are paying far less for much larger data and voice inclusions with a small phone
Carefully examine what it is you need
The way phone plans have diverged from one another in the last few years offers an opportunity for every phone buyer out there. Most phone plans now fall in to one of two different teams. First, there are phone plans which offer non phone company inclusions – typically plan features related to content. One phone company might give you access to the English Premier League football, for example. Another might let you stream video from Netflix without charging it against your plan.
The ‘alternative’ now, to these new phone plans are standard phone plans which don’t have any of these content ‘extras’.
For the proportion of people who love the content on offer, these are great deals. They often include unique content and let you watch it for free. The price of the phone plan is pretty much what it’s always been for these users but what they’re given for the money improves dramatically.
For those who just want a standard phone plan, however, these new inclusions are also a boost. They can save money by avoiding content they don’t need and for which they would ultimately have paid.
Bringing it all together
With data usage rising at 50% per year, you need to check in here and there to make sure you’re not being overcharged.
Of all this advice, the most important relates to the old way of engaging with your phone company – taking a phone under contract. Our suggestion is that you carefully weigh up the benefits of contracts – and to steer well clear.
The only exception to the ‘no contracts’ rule is seen at iPhone release time. Many of the major phone companies will keep their iPhone pricing sharp – offering as much of a discount as they can on the launch date of the new device to steal share. They tend to gently raise their prices over the following weeks when the press attention has waned.