Whether you are using a smartphone for the first time, or you are a longtime user – you may still find yourself wondering what exactly it means to access the internet on a cell phone. What is “data” and how is it different from WiFi? What exactly is WiFi?
Well, look no further! Our Bolt Mobile phone experts are here to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about data and WiFi when it comes to cellular phones and tablets.
What is data?
When you access the internet through your wireless device and you are connected to the SaskTel cellular network, you are using “cellular data”. When you look at your service bars at the top of your home screen, you will see symbols like ‘LTE’ ‘4G’ or ‘3G’ to indicate this. When you are connected to a wireless network, you are using WiFi. When you look at your service bars, you will see a WiFi signal that resembles a radio “wave” to indicate that you are connected to wireless internet. Either method will allow you the opportunity to utilize and access features like email, internet browsers, applications, social media and to sync features for calendar, notes, contacts and other information that you want to back up.
What is WiFi?
WiFi is an internet connection that is broadcasted by an individual, a business or a service provider. These networks can be open and easily accessed through any device that finds a signal, but many have password protection. If you have open access or the correct login credentials for a specific wireless network, you will be able to utilize this feature to access the internet instead of utilizing your cellular data.
When do I use data vs when do I use WiFi?
If you have wireless internet at home, work, school or in a building that you are visiting, you should always utilize it as often as possible. If you are consistently visiting a specific location where there is a wireless network available, your device should automatically connect you to that network every time that you are in range ie at home, work etc. Using WiFi means that your device will not use the data included in your SaskTel data plan during that time.
When you are travelling or away from a wireless network, your phone will automatically allow you internet access through your cellular data plan. This allows you to have internet access absolutely anywhere that you have a SaskTel cellular connection. You will have full access to the internet just as you would on WiFi.
How can I keep my data usage low?
We hear it all the time at Bolt Mobile – how can I keep my bill low? Why am I going over my data? How can I manage it? Here are six easy ways to do just that:
1- Avoid streaming on cellular data
Watching videos, streaming movies, television shows, music and the like over cellular data will use a large portion of your plan. Media of any kind uses a high amount of data to provide you with high quality, fast and vibrant content. If you have previously downloaded media onto your device for later use, you can access those items without access to the internet.
2- Turn off Cellular Data
If you are away from WiFi and don’t require access to the internet in order to use your device, you can shut off your cellular data at any time to avoid using your data plan. Your phone will still allow you access to WiFi. When you are in range of a wireless network again, your phone will start loading in anything that you missed while the internet was off and grant you full access again. You only need to have your cellular data turned on if you are away from a wireless network and require access to your internet features.
3- Turn off App Notifications
Notifications do not use a lot of data, but turning off these notifications will stop your device from constantly searching for new messages, notifications etc and will cut down on your usage and can cut down on excessive messages coming to your phone. This option can be found in the settings on your device.
4- Turn off WiFi Assist
WiFi Assist is a feature that will identify whether or not your cellular data connection or your wireless network is stronger at any given time. If your data connection is stronger, but your intention is to remain on WiFi, you will want to turn off Wifi Assist to prevent unintentional data use.
5- Update on WiFi Only
Any smartphone will occasionally require updates to its core operating system, as well as many of the applications that run on your device. These updates can be small, but more often than not your device will perform updates on several applications at once. To prevent these updates, as well as the large software updates that are required to keep your device performing at its best- utilize the settings in your phones App Store (Google Play Store, Apple App Store, etc) to perform updates on WiFi only. This will prevent any surges of sudden data use due to large scheduled updates.
6- HotSpot with Caution
If you are interested in sharing your phones cellular data with another smartphone, tablet, computer, etc- do so with caution. When you broadcast or “Hotspot” your internet, you are giving those who connect to your network full access to utilize the internet however they choose- and their use will cut into your cellular data plan. If the device that you are hotspotting to decides to watch a movie or listen to music for a couple hours, you will see a large surge in your data use. Do not give out your HotSpot password to anyone that you don’t trust, and always put a password on your HotSpot connection to prevent those outside of your trusted circle from connecting to your network.
7- Keep track of your data use
If you are a SaskTel customer, download the MySaskTel app to track your devices data usage based specifically on your billing date and your plan. Data usage reports are generally about 24 hours behind, but restarting your phone will provide more up to date usage details.
Most smartphones also provide a setting where you are able to track your usage, as well as generate a report of which applications are utilizing your data during any given time period. Unlike the MySaskTel app, which is tailored specifically to your plan, you will have to program the settings in your device to the appropriate billing date that represents your billing cycle. In some cases, you can also program these settings to put limitations on your data use and to notify you when you reach a certain amount of data use in that time period.
In an Apple device, you will find this under Settings > Cellular > Mobile Data
In an Android device, you will find this under Settings >Wireless and Networks > Data Usage