People are consuming more data than ever on their phones as they watch more video content. Back in 2014, people all over the world collectively used 2.5 exabytes in a month. But that’s expected to grow globally to 25 exabytes a month in 2019, according to the Cisco VNI Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast.
With all that increased data usage comes a threat: Overage fees! What people pay in overage charges when they go over their individual monthly data allotments amount to a massive profit center for AT&T and Verizon. In the last 90 days, 30% of AT&T customers and 20% of Verizon’s got hit by massive data overages, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But there’s no need to ever pay an overage fee! Here are some different strategies you can use to address data overages and avoid them altogether.
Consider an unlimited plan
With AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, you can go on an unlimited data plan. With AT&T in particular, this can be very affordable for a family, but you have to bundle your service with their TV offering at a separate monthly charge to get the deal. Once you do that, it triggers your ability to pay just $180/month for four lines of unlimited talk, text and data. (Beware of throttling after 22 GBs.) Sprint and T-Mobile have their own unlimited plans too.
Explore browser-based options
Verizon is not offering unlimited plans at this time. So if you’re a customer, you’ve got to flex in other ways with apps that can shrink your data consumption.
Opera Mini is a mobile browser that reduces data consumption by 90% — so you can dramatically stretch your data plan with your carrier. It’s available as a free download for Android and Apple. Because it only sips data, you may even be able to stay on a lower data plan when you’re using it. Plus, in my experience using Opera Mini, it’s really fast to boot!
Another option for you to try would be Onavo, a free app that compresses data on your smartphone and saves you money. The compression process that happens to your data is much like how cable and satellite TV companies compress the signal versus traditional over-the-air broadcast signals. Onavo is a free download for both Android and Apple.
Make video streaming not count against your data
T-Mobile has a different solution altogether. They’re offering Binge On, a new initiative that lets people on qualifying plans stream unlimited video from mainstream providers like Netflix, Hulu and many more without it counting against their data cap. For a complete list of participating content providers, click here.
For iPhones specifically, the Safari browser has been a real problem eating data. As an alternative, try downloading Opera Mini or Onavo (mentioned above) and don’t use Safari anymore. You can significantly reduce data use on an iPhone this way.
Read more: Apps that pay you to use your phone