Disappearing Mobile Data – How it Happens


The #DataMustFall movement has hogged headlines recently, with numerous South Africans adding their voices to the call for lower mobile data tariffs in the country. 

South Africa has been shown to have some of the highest data costs in Africa as well as the rest of the world. Mobile operators offer a wide range of data packages, often spun in different ways to try to convince consumers that they are getting the best mobile data deal.

Consumers often buy into these data deals with the hope that their data will last for the month (that’s if they’ve bought a data bundle that can last throughout the month). Imagine their surprise when they find that their mobile data is disappearing and they have no idea how it’s happening.

If you are one of the unlucky number of people who has had to deal with disappearing mobile data, this is how it happens:

Jannie van Zyl, Vodacom’s executive head of innovation says, “Faster networks, better phones and consumers’ own habits have all led to users’ perceptions that their data is ‘disappearing.”

As a consumer, when you buy data, your cellphone network expects that you will use this data for web browsing, sending emails, viewing online video content etc. As a way of encouraging you to buy data bundles, they charge you out-of-bundle rates which are a lot more expensive. So you will be billed out-of-bundle rates if you don’t have a data bundle loaded and you aren’t connected to a Wi-Fi network.

If you’re finding that this happens regularly and you aren’t notified of your depleted data bundles, you could always consider switching to an operator that doesn’t let you go out of bundle automatically when your data runs out.

You can also disable mobile data access on an app-by-app basis as well as limit your LTE network usage.

Beware of disappearing mobile data because of subscriptions to ringtone or picture downloads.


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