A Quick Guide to Mobile Data

As simple as it may seem, on a daily basis we can send WhatsApp messages and browse our Facebook feed while sitting in a bus in Polokwane or while waiting for our friends to catch a movie in Canal Walk. The power of mobile data has not gone unnoticed as time progresses and our lifestyles become more technologically inclined. Amongst other activities, we rely on data to communicate and entertain children if not ourselves, to receive “in the moment” updates on weather, sport and news; gone are the days where we could view the price of gold only twice a day on the television or read minuscule news report on the right-hand side corner of the weekly newspaper. We now live in the age of information where data is everywhere, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be read and shared on your social media platforms. We trade information, statistics and facts to our friends and family in a matter of minutes all of which are possible through mobile data.

So what exactly is mobile data and why does it make a huge difference if I have or don’t have it? Simply put if we didn’t have access to mobile data on the go; while traveling or away from our beloved Wi-Fi zone we couldn’t do half of what we usually do on our smartphones/”smart devices” on a daily basis and render them pretty much useless unless you just make calls and send SMSs. Mobile data provides broadband internet connection to our portable devices; smartphones, tablets, laptops and Mi-Fi routers through various network signals and connections that are pulled from towers that cover certain areas; which explains why some networks aren’t available in certain areas. Network signal depends on coverage. A number of mobile apps and platforms depend on mobile data to be useful and download new content by the minute; weather and news app updates being most common to stay in touch.

While fixed line data costs in South Africa seem to steadily decline, we still see a massive difference in price with mobile data rates. Frustratingly enough, we pay an arm and a leg for a data bundle and often we find that half of our data has disappeared by the time we wake up in the morning. South African’s spend hundreds of rand on data costs to stay connected on the go and feel cheated after checking their balances and seeing the depletion without even having used their devices. The average South African uses between R50 – R150 worth of data per month.

This year, one of South Africa’s priorities will focus on bringing down the cost of data following last year’s #DataMustFall movement and consumers are welcoming the change. Average consumers feel the pinch of the cost to keep communicating and stay part of the digital age. The need for information on the go increases daily. It is evident within various age groups; the need for information within groups of school goers seeking project/assignment information, young adults in campus needing to stay in touch with parents, lecturers and peers. Adults alike plan their day around weather conditions, news updates and stock market changes. These various examples depend on data usage.

While we wait for the cost of data to fall, Mobile Store will provide 5 data saving tips in next week’s blog post.