Voice and Data: What's the difference anyway?

Using a smartphone along with any other connected device can be perplexing as we try to keep in mind the cost vs. the benefit of using certain apps. We all know the devices permit us to use the Internet, but do we also know the costs associated with one connection service versus another? We should, because the difference can be big. So what’s the difference, anyway?

When you see 3G, 4G or LTE on your phone, you’re using mobile data, which allows for Internet connectivity regardless of location. You could be shopping in a mall in France, or tweeting from the top of the Eifel Tower. There’s no need to connect to a network and enter a password in these situations. The catch, however, is that doing so can be very expensive if you’re on your domestic carrier’s roaming network. We’re talking 20 dollars a megabyte expensive. Ouch!

Now comes Wi-Fi. Usually not too costly and often free, but the catch is that you have to stay in one spot. There are also a multitude of security risks associated with open networks that let anyone join. So sending that confidential email at the quaint Internet café you found is probably not your best bet. Not to mention that Wi-Fi’s limited range isn’t quite “mobile,” anyway.

So now that we’re tech savvy Internet consumers, let’s implement this knowledge. If you’re going to use mobile data, it’s best to make sure you’re not running background apps or allowing those things called “push” notifications to go off. These slowly eat at your plan. So save the auto updates for the hotel once you’re back for the evening.

So what’s the takeaway? Be wise about your data consumption! We all know that mobile data services can be affordable (with people like us figuring out how to supply them anywhere, because connectivity is a necessity!), but we also want you to get the most out of them. So next time you travel, configure your device to have auto updates turned off, make sure your mobile data is good to go when it’s necessary, and save that Instagram update for the hotel.