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How to Manage Your Smartphone's Data Consumption

On a limited data plan? Here are ways to keep your data usage in check.

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AT&T Usage & Recent Activity Page

Monitor your Usage & Recent Activity with your AT&T account.

AT&T

Earlier this year, AT&T discontinued its unlimited data plan for new smartphone users, and Verizon may follow suit. AT&T customers who were already on unlimited data plans were allowed to keep them, but new customers have two new plans to choose from.

  • The DataPlus plan offers 200 MB of data for $15 per month.
  • The DataPro plan offers 2 GB of data for $25 per month.

These plans are excellent for the budget-conscious BlackBerry user, but may prove to be very restrictive for people who watch video, or stream audio to their device. If you tether your BlackBerry to your laptop as a modem when you are on the go, it is that much easier to exceed your quota and end up paying a lot more than you bargained for. When RIM introduces BlackBerry 6, the new Webkit browser will make surfing the web a lot easier, but more surfing means more data usage. Here are some simple strategies you can use to keep your data consumption (and spending) in check.

Monitor Your Data Vigilantly

The easiest way to avoid exceeding your quota is to monitor your data consumption regularly. If you are an AT&T user, you can log into your account, click on Usage & Recent Activity, and check your data usage. Do this several times during the month, especially after downloading apps or watching video. Even if you exceed your quota, you can keep the additional charges to a minimum. This information is not delivered in real-time, so you should assume that you have consumed more data than what the site reports.

Synchronize Manually

There are several applications for the BlackBerry that synchronize your data with outside servers including MilkSync (Remember the Milk) and Google Sync. While automatic synchronization is convenient, it will slowly chip away at your quota, and can consume more data than you think over the course of a month. Set these applications to synchronize manually, and you will have a greater deal of control over how much data they use.

Budget for Overage Charges or a Larger Data Plan

If you are new to the BlackBerry, it may take a few months for you to get a grip on how much data you actually consume per month. If you're on AT&T's network, you may want to spend the first few months on the DataPro plan, and decide whether you want to downgrade after you have an idea of how much data you actually consume. You may also choose to opt for the DataPlus plan and leave room in your budget for overages. You may save more money in the long run by having a cheaper data plan and just exceeding your quota once or twice a year.

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