Originally published: March 4, 2012
Last updated: March 5, 2012 - 4:24pm
Cellphone carriers are forcing customers to think about how much data they are slurping up as they watch YouTube and stream music from Pandora. In the United States, customers with unlimited plans who use a lot of data have found themselves forced into a network slow lane. Now companies are introducing services and applications that promise to help phone users manage and understand their data diet — for example, flagging the late-night Tumblr binge that chewed through their monthly data ration. The idea is to help them tweak their behavior and the way their phone works to get the most out of their data plans.
Start-ups like Onavo have services that compress data on its way to the phone. Qualcomm, the telecommunications company, is developing software that can be built into phones and seeks ways to minimize data use, like automatically switching to Wi-Fi when an approved network is detected. Your average smartphone owner could use some assistance on this front. Many are unlikely to know the difference between a megabyte and a gigabyte, or how much data it takes to watch a music video.