How much data do I need on my cell phone plan?

 Smart phones combine cell phone and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) functions in one unit.  If you require e-mail and access to your calendar when on the go then a smart phone is appropriate for you.  Smart phones vary widely by design and some smart phones allow you to view and edit Word and Excel documents, while some models use a stylus and touch screen and others offer full QWERTY keyboards.

Though smart phones are considerably larger and much more expensive than standard handsets, often costing upward of $500, they eliminate the need for two separate devices which was the norm when PDA devices were the rave.  In order to get the full value from your smart phone you will need to purchase a separate data plan, which varies by carrier. 

A data plan will allow you to browse the internet and check email, however, the plans can vary quite substantially and estimating your data needs is important in keeping your monthly costs manageable.

So let’s answer the question, “How much data do you need on your smart phone?”

In order to keep things simple we put together the following table to outline what is included in the various data plans in terms of usage. So, here is what can you do with a 500MB, 1GB, 2GB or 5GB plan on a monthly basis.

If you are wondering why aren’t text messages part of a data plan, then check out one of my earlier blogs.  In short, the Big 3 (Bell, Rogers, Telus) don’t consider text messaging to be part of your data plan. Therefore a separate text messaging plan must be purchased or one has to pay on a per text message basis. This can be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 cents per message sent and received.

So as you can see from the table above with a 500MB plan you can send or receive 10,000 emails, surf 1,500 websites, view 200 pictures and watch two (2) hours of YouTube video.  I consider myself a fairly aggressive smart phone user, checking email repeatedly, surfing occasionally, but rarely if ever, watching video on my phone. After a call to my carrier to inquire about my usage I discovered that I use 25MB per month on average. That’s right 25MB, so all in all if you have a laptop and really only use your smart phone to check email and surf the occasional web page, don’t pay for more than you really need and continue to monitor your usage. Also because of the way that BlackBerry devices compress data, it is almost impossible to use a 500MB data plan on a BlackBerry, assuming no video watching of course.

Use this knowledge to create a proposal with myCELLmyTERMS and get the best cell phone deal on your terms.

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Kye Husbands is co-founder of  myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.

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