Sunday, 7 August 2011

Smartphone users warning on data limit penalties

Ofcom has published the Communications Market Report for 2011, revealing smartphone fever is sweeping the UK, with over a quarter (27%) of adults and almost half of all teenagers (47%) now owning one.

Smartphones are more interactive than 'normal' mobile phones, with users able to access specialist applications (apps), social networks, email and download music and video content direct to their mobile. As a result of this growing functionality the volume of data transferred over the UKs mobile networks made a massive jump of 67% over the figures for 2010.

Dominic Baliszewski, expert at pointed out: "Smartphones are everywhere you look these days, on the train, the street and (according to Ofcom's report) even the bathroom! Their growing popularity is no surprise as they are incredibly useful, allowing you to stay in touch, listen to music and even watch TV whilst on the move.

"Smartphone users may get a richer experience from their phone compared to regular mobile users, but it is important to keep on top of mobile phone data usage limits, as this is where many people come unstuck and incur excess data penalties which can greatly increase their monthly bill.

"Smartphone download limits, with the exception of the iPhone, can be rather stingy and the penalties can be over 10p per MB of content download over and above your usage limit. These costs mount up very quickly so anyone who is unsure of how much data they are using should follow our tips below to avoid being stung."'s top tips for downloading on a smartphone:

1. Check the small print: Customers who don't know their limit can incur substantial penalties unknowingly, so always ask your provider direct and find out about early warning systems that they may have in place to inform you if you are reaching your limit. Data usage limits on smartphones can cost upwards of 10p per MB (this is a staggering £100 per GB).

2. Set up your own warning system: Use your phone to monitor your usage, reset your phone's usage counter on your monthly billing date and use this to keep track of your usage.

3. Use Wi-Fi when you can: Making use of a Wi-Fi connection in a hotel, coffee shop or even your local McDonalds allows you to surf for free on, what is usually, a faster, more reliable signal.

4. Turn off Apps: Some apps use the internet to update your information automatically – for example, tools that keep track of your location and post it to Facebook. Allowing these to continue running throughout the day will eat into your data allowance, so turn them off if they are not in use.

5. Shop around: If you still find you are frequently reaching your data limit before the end of the month, consider the other options available to you. Compare different providers, for example, Three offers unlimited data where as O2 offers additional mobile 'data bolt-ons' - both are ideally suited to customer who do a lot of downloading on the move. You don't need to change your phone, just your SIM, to take advantage of other deals.

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