Last week Verizon Wireless rolled out their new tiered data plans. Since this is a change the average user is still trying to wrap their heads around, we felt it a good idea to repost last weeks posting on what this all means. Verizon Wireless used our posting on their “Verizon Wireless Midwest” website to break it all down for their customers. So here is our original posting from last week.
On July 7th Verizon Wireless changed their “Unlimited Data Plan” to a 3 tier Data Plan. $30 for 2G, $50 for 5G and $80 for 10G. And $10 a Gigabyte for overage. The initial reaction of most people is “Oh no, now my cell phone bill is going to go up”. That is probably not true for 90% of the users out there.
First of all, if you already have an Unlimited Data Plan with Verizon Wireless, you are grandfathered in. At this point, even if you upgrade, as long as you already have a smartphone with an Unlimited Data Plan, you get to keep that Unlimited Data Plan on your new phone. The only people it will affect are people adding a new smartphone line or existing customers upgrading from a non data phone to a smartphone. But even most of those people will not see a data bill higher than the $30 2G tier feature. The reason for this, unless you watch a lot of movies, videos, TV and streaming music on your phone, you just don’t use that much data. And e-mail uses very little data. And even if you do, there are ways to monitor your usage and keep it down.
All carriers have a “data calculator” on their website. If you have Verizon Wireless, you can go to your “My Verizon” and search for their “Data Calculator“. This tool will let you put in the amount of activities that you use your phone for and it will calculate the amount of data you use in a month.
According to Nielsen, the average Android Smartphone user in the 1st quarter of this year used 582 MB of data a month. The average iPhone user used an average 492 MB of data a month, the average Windows smartphone user used an average of 174 MB of data and the average BlackBerry user used an average 127 MB of data a month.
So what does that mean? I’m on a 2G plan and you’re talking Megabytes. How does that correlate with my usage? Here is the equation: Data is measured in 3 measurements Kilobyte, Megabyte and Gigabyte. In today’s references you commonly hear people say things like “how many gigs does that have?” It takes 1,024 Kilobytes to equal 1 Megabyte. And it takes 1,024 Megabytes to equal 1 Gigabyte.
There you have it. From those numbers you can figure your usage and your needs. So the average Android user during the 1st quarter of 2011 used 582 Megabytes a month or 1/4 of what a 2G plan would give them. Another way to get a good picture of your data usage is to have your account set up on-line with your carrier. Then you can look back over your last 3 months usage. It will show you the amount of data you used each month.
A good 3 month look back will give you a very good picture of how much data you use a month. There are 2 really good ways to monitor your data usage during the month. Each carrier has these, but since we are talking about Verizon Wireless, I will use them as an example.
(1) At any time during the month you can press #data and then hit send from your cell phone and it will tell you how much data that phone has used so far during your current billing cycle. You have to remember that this information is being taken off the carriers server so it is not real-time. It is usually from yesterday, but it gives you a good idea of where you are at. (2) Verizon Wireless has an app called “My Verizon Mobile App” (it’s free).
Download this to your phone and it will tell you your data usage and voice usage for the current billing cycle. There are also many app’s out there in the app markets that help you to monitor your data usage. 3G Watchdog, My Data Manager, NetCounter, DataMan…and there are 3rd party apps that also “compress data” and track your data in real-time usage.
By compressing the data that you use from popular apps, it allows your phone to use more data within the 2G, 5G or 10G plan that you have signed up for. The one last and best way to keep your phones data usage down is to keep your smartphones Wi-Fi setting “on” and use a businesses Wi-Fi service whenever possible. When you have your Wi-Fi setting on, your phone will notify you when you are in a business that provides a Public Wi-Fi hotspot. Using that businesses public Wi-Fi hotspot means that you are NOT using your phones data service.
You can use your phone to your heart’s content when you are using a public Wi-Fi hotspot and it won’t increase your phones data usage. Watch movies, listen to music, non of it is being used by your phone. If the Wi-Fi notification is annoying you, just leave the setting off and then turn it on when you are in a business like say Starbucks that you know has a public Wi-Fi hotspot. This will save a great deal of data usage on your account.
The point to all of this is, the tiered data plans that carriers are going to will not necessarily result in an increase in your cell phone bill. Most users use way below the 2G level. E mailing, Facebook and twitter just don’t use that much data. And if you are a heavy user, use your phones Wi-Fi ability whenever possible. That will cut down on a lot of data usage.
Eventually carriers will go to “Family Share Data Plans” just like they went to “Family Share Anytime Minute Plans” for voice. Data is the new thing. Familes of say, 5 can’t afford 5 $30 smartphone data plans on top of their voice plan when all of the members of the family want smartphones. So they will have to come up with family shared data plans for families, to make that more affordable for families. Are you listening Verizon, Sprint and AT&T?
-for more information on Verizon Wireless, check out “Verizon Wireless Midwest“.