More and more Africans are consuming value-added services over their mobile devices as data charges and smartphones become cheaper. With the festive season that just passed – most of us could do with advice on spending less money on our mobile devices.
In an effort to assist consumers in better managing their mobile spending, to curb the potential for unwanted costs, and to promote responsible mobile phone usage, Deon Odendaal from Mira Networks and Darryl Linington from IT News Africa have provided 10 tips that could save African consumers from receiving exceptionally high mobile phone bills.
1. Restrict access to your phone – Ensure that only you know what your SIM code or device password is. If you do not have a password to unlock your device, it might well be in your interest to install one. Having a ‘firewall’ can prevent young children, who are often the perpetrators of unwanted downloads and unknown subscriptions, from subscribing you to services you had no idea about until they pop up on your latest cellphone bill. Even then, it is sometimes months before you notice them.
2. Read all your SMS messages – What you might have regarded as spam, could be an informational message reminding you of a service that you are subscribed to. These messages will contain the name of the service, the charge and the frequency, the customer care number and instructions to cancel the service should you wish to do so. They are sent on a monthly basis. A common misconception is that deleting these messages will cancel the charges. This is incorrect. Instructions to unsubscribe will be contained in the message text.
3. Itemised billing – Ask your service provider for an itemised billing on your statement each month.
4. Read the itemised billing – How many of us read our invoices, or even our bank statements? Make a point of setting aside a regular time each month to go through all your accounts. Seeing the undeniable evidence of your spending can help to curb unnecessary expenses across the board, as well as zoning in on content services being charged to your mobile account.
5. Double check cost and terms – If you are signing up to a service offered by a content service provider or the mobile network operator – double check the costs and terms and conditions – they are there for a reason.
6. Check Content Service – All reputable content services are carried over VAS aggregators or content providers registered with WASPA. VAS aggregators are the technical backbone over which some of these services are carried and not the content provider itself. They act as the technological intermediary between subscribers, the networks and the content service providers. However, the aggregator’s name currently appears on some statements, which often leads to confusion (and hence these tips). The aggregator will however be able to assist with identifying the content provider operating the service.
7. Close Background Applications – Mobile applications such as Facebook, Skype, WhatsApp, and weather services consume data. In addition to this, so do mobile games. These applications are forever connecting to the internet in order to check and stay updated. They pull data from social media accounts, application accounts, and other sources. By leaving these applications open, you are essentially using up your current data. Once a consumer’s data is used up network providers charge out of bundle rates, which are then charged to the account holders bill. Out of bundle rates are one of the main reason why consumers receive exceptionally high mobile phone bills.
8. Update Applications Over Wi-Fi – Many smartphones allow users to set whether or not the device downloads application updates via Wi-Fi, or alternatively using the devices 3G or 4G connection. If running a contract or prepaid device, it better to connect to a Wi-Fi service in order to update applications. This is essentially beneficial if you run an uncapped internet service at home or within the office. Application updates can range from 1MB up to over a 1GB. So if you are running an uncapped data plan you can avoid exceptionally high costs just by setting your device up to only update applications when connected to Wi-Fi.
9. Turn off GPS Navigational Applications – Navigational applications tend to use a fair amount of data. However, by disabling these apps as well as geo-location services you can essentially save when it comes to your mobile phone bill.
10. Only stream content when necessary – Mobile applications like YouTube, Twitch, and other services use an exceptional amount of mobile data. If you have an uncapped package on your device this may not be an issue; however, if your service provider only issues you 1GB of data monthly you may end up with a sky high phone bill. While streaming videos you will have to take into consideration how long the video is, and a what quality the video is being streamed at. Some videos can be streamed at a resolution of as low as 140P and as high as 1080P. While streaming at lower level of quality may not use an exceptional amount of data, streaming at 1080P will use far more data than you realise.
Darryl Linington from IT News Africa concludes by saying: “Even though social media applications may not seem like a culprit for mass data usage, they can essentially use large amounts of data. This month alone, Facebook has consumed over 800MB of mobile data as well as 1.6GB of data over Wi-Fi on my personal device.”