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Data and Wi-Fi. These two terms are thrown around so much in the world of mobile phone service these days, but how many people actually know the difference?

While both Wi-Fi and data offer the same service — a wireless internet connection to your mobile device, Wi-Fi requires that you be within range of a router to receive that connection, whereas data requires that you be in range of your provider’s network signal — which is a much greater range.

So why is it that with all of the improvements with Wi-Fi availability, consumers are still willing to pay so much for plans to get more data?

According to Tom’s Guide, unlimited data plans from the big 4 carriers range from $70-$80/month. That’s a pretty hefty bill, especially if you consider that many households might be paying for multiple cell phone lines.

The average household in America has 2.53 people. If you’d care to do the math, at $75 per unlimited plan, that’s a $2,277 phone bill every year for the average household!

What can I do to reduce my data usage and save money?

1. Limit mobile data. Android phones will let you limit your data usage so if you reach your set limit your mobile data will turn off. This will help you avoid any data overage fees. Unless of course you’re using TextNow because there’s no such thing as an overage fee here!

2. Set up a data usage alert. This is similar to limiting your mobile data but instead of disabling the data automatically you’ll be notified once you reach a certain amount of data usage.

3. Know which apps are using the most data. If you notice that specific apps are using more data than others you can plan to only use those apps when you have Wi-Fi, or restrict/limit specific app data usage as well.

4. Use Wi-Fi whenever possible. With Wi-Fi being more readily available in places like schools, coffee shops, restaurants and even some retail stores and shopping malls, you can save a ton of data just by getting connected to Wi-Fi.

Where can I find free Wi-Fi?

A better question might actually be where can’t I find free Wi-Fi?

  • As of 2018, 44.7 million students had access to high speed internet across the US in their schools. (As reported by Education Superhighway)
  • With over 14,000 stores nationwide offering free Wi-Fi, Starbucks leads the coffee shop category for Wi-Fi availability in the country — followed by Dunkin’ Donuts with over 9,000.
  • McDonald’s leads the restaurant pack offering visitors free Wi-Fi in over 12,000 of their stores (as reported by brookings.edu), but both fast food restaurants and sit-down restaurants are starting to expand their Wi-Fi offering.
  • Public libraries are also a great place to go if you’re looking to save some data and use free Wi-Fi. According to brookings.edu 15,000 public libraries provide visitors with free Wi-Fi.

WiFi symbol

As the availability of Wi-Fi in America continues to increase, so does the opportunity for more low-cost and free services. You might realize that you don’t need that expensive unlimited data plan with all these savings options.

If you’re finding that an unlimited plan is no longer necessary, reducing the phone plans in your house hold to something like TextNow’s 2GB is available for only $19.99/month, making your annual bill $607. That’s a $1,670 savings compared to the $2,277 we mentioned earlier!

So now the question is, what will you do with the savings earned by saving your data?

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