How to Cut Your Smartphone Data Bill Data congestion on wireless networks has gotten so bad that carriers are taking fresh steps to curb bandwidth hogs' enthusiasm. This week, Verizon (VZ) revealed it had begun throttling back delivery speeds for its top 5% of its 3G data customers. AT&T (T) is expected to make a similar move starting in early October, according to PCWorld. The move, according to the computer magazine, is aimed at pushing more customers into slightly more expensive tiered data plans, rather than the unlimited plans.

As smartphone use explodes, carriers are increasingly pushing customers into these tiered-pricing data plans, which are often bundled with a voice minutes-usage plan. A startup called Onavo is bringing a much-needed layer of transparency to data-use, and gives consumers a free way to monitor how much they use -- and help them make informed decisions about how much to spend on a plan.

"You get this ecosystem [like a smartphone or tablet], where you are using a lot of apps, but you don't really know what you are using," says Onavo founder and CEO Guy Rosen. Prices can range from $15 a month for limited data plans on AT&T to nearly $40 a month for an unlimited plan at T-Mobile. BillShrink.com offers a tool to compare data plans.

The Onavo app works with both Apple's (AAPL) iPhone and Google's (GOOG) Android operating systems. It measures how data is being used on a smartphone, and compresses data to minimize data usage. The top data guzzlers? Try those cute kitten videos on YouTube. When it comes to streaming media traffic, YouTube alone accounts for a massive 40% of data consumption. Another big data hog are app downloads -- like Angry Birds or WordsWithFriends -- which represent 13% of iPhone data usage in the United States, according to Onavo.

Rosen says that teaching people to better understand their personal data consumption -- like how many megabytes that streaming music video is really using -- is a necessary part of educating modern-day digital citizens. As many city-dwellers know, data congestion is a growing problem: Signals drop, emails take minutes to download, and even lightweight SMS messages can get stalled. To meet the growing bandwidth demands of smartphones, big carriers are investing in expensive wireless broadband networks, like 3G, 4G and LTE -- and those costs are increasingly underwritten by pricier data plans. Adding to the problem are inefficient apps: Many apps aren't necessarily optimized for mobile devices (though that is changing), says Rosen.

"Overcharges are expensive," says Rosen. "We need something that makes it clear and easy for the masses [to understand data usage.]"

Five Tips to Minimize and Save on Smartphone Data

1. Say no to downloading apps on the go. Instead, use your home computer to get your apps and songs. Onavo says that can save up to 10% of data usage right there.

2. Use manual settings for email. If your phone has the "push" setting on, it is constantly updating and looking for new email, which is a data drain. Change to manual and only get email when you want it.

3. Use mobile versions of websites. These sites are data-streamlined for smartphones. Instead of typing www before the address, type m.

4. Measure and compress your data. Use an app like Onavo to monitor your data usage and compress the data from the apps that are running.

5. Watch streaming video on Wifi networks rather than wireless broadband. Those data-heavy videos could send you way over your 2GB limit if you're not careful.




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flyme4svc

Best and ONLY way to save on data plans is to get your damn fingers off that phone !!!

September 26 2011 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
azmurph

I finally switched to boost unlimited with 3g and a blackberry. I pay 60 month for everything (text, calls, data, gps). Why the heck would anybody pay anymore. Having the latest and greatest phones is not worth the price diff.

September 26 2011 at 4:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kmitnck0405

Got Sprint???? I use almost 4 gigs of data some months using Rhapsody on my Epic hooked to a nice set of surround speakers. My bill is still remains around 90 a month. Now sprint just acquired the Samsung Galaxy S II which if a better phone hasn't been released by my next upgrade that's the phone I'm going with. But however I have my eye on the EVO 3D as well. But every summer Sprint releases a new and better phone so the next 17 months until my upgrade are gonna present more options I can upgrade to. I would recommend to anyone going with Sprint. Its only a matter of time before Sprint brings board the IPhone.

September 26 2011 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rob

If your data charges and overages are too high then get Sprint unlimited data with your Smartphone.

September 26 2011 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joey

Really? Are all of your crying over a smartphone?
Aren't there bigger worries? I have a "smartphone" and will get the next, newest "smartphone" invention as soon as it's released! It's MY money, I work very hard to earn it, recirculating it back into OUR economy!
If this worries you, get off your FAT BUTTS, shut down your computers, and go make a stink about something that matters, like maybe getting a J O B so you can afford a "smartphone", as opposed to wishing you had a "smartphone" instead of being stuck with your Verizon Wireless Razor flip phone!

September 26 2011 at 12:55 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Joey's comment
Robert Cape

Whatsa matta, Joey, are your shorts too tight? Even you overpaid young "go-getters" going after someone else's money can recognize that the "phone companies" are ripping your pockets off with their "extras" and general charges. Okay, you love to get your pocket picked by your phone companies, most of us don't. Too many of us don't have "JOBS", or are retired or maybe are just smart enough to try to economize. Don't hate us too much, Joey.. you might get that luxury rug pulled out from under you some day, too.

September 26 2011 at 2:08 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
THE CANNONS

Joey...Are you 13? Your rant made you appear to be a snobby, rude little brat! I would go into further detail but you probably wouldn't understand since you still use words like "Fat Butt!" It is past your bedtime Joey, brush your teeth & go to bed! Good Night!

September 26 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Jay

If you really want to save money then throw your smart phone away and do things the old fashioned way. The fact is that 80%+ of all smartphone users do not need the smartphone in the first place. It is all about marketing and making people think that they need the phone and how "cool" it is to have one. Reality is that if you think about how many times a year you really had to use your smartphone for something really important and figure out what it cost you (looking up phone numbers does not count because any cell phone can do that) then you will have your answer. Most people can do just fine with a regular cell phone and have no need for all the other over hyped crap the cmmmunications companies want to sell to you.

September 26 2011 at 8:25 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Gumby

Sprint is the only one that offers unlimited data plans!!

September 26 2011 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
littlegamm44

I have a smart phone, and I use it mainly in my work.....I can Google addresses, aand when I have questions regarding my clients I can google it and find the answer right away...This helps a lot as I am in the medical field and sometimes need answers quickly for my patients and their families.....I still do a lot on my home computer, but do not know how I got along without my my smart phone....

September 26 2011 at 1:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to littlegamm44's comment
Joey

I am fairly certain that your "patients and their families" feel COMPLETELY confortable knowing that you just "GOOGLED" the answer to their medical questions! Maybe you should try a MEDICAL DICTIONARY to find your answers!

September 26 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joey's comment
bigdaddyfball

Hey Joey you sound like another spoiled snotty nose kid who doesn't know what its like to have REALLY WORK for somethin. Just cause folks can't afford a smartphone doesn't mean they don't work. Grow up and think of others. Most people between the ages of 18-30 nowadays don't know what consideration is.

September 26 2011 at 6:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
Nekima

Theres just NO reason to pay $30 more a month for a phone for email. I can get my mail form my home computer. Its just another way for then places to take more $$$$ from people.

September 25 2011 at 8:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vince

Dump your cell phone keep your land line. During hurricane Rita we were without power for 25 days but our BellSouth land line worked everyday.

September 25 2011 at 6:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply