Published by Steve Litchfield at 9:31 UTC, August 25th 2010
Q. I use a Vodafone pay as you go SIM card with my Nokia smartphone and until recently I've been very happy. I only use mobile data sparingly, grabbing email every now and then and hardly using Web over 3G. And in the last few months, my SIM credit has been draining far faster than it used to. Do you think it's something I've installed?
A. Possibly, one can't rule out a utility which is insisting on going online and using up data without you noticing. More likely though, and something which most users on most mobile networks should pay attention to, is that the way data charges are applied changed last summer. Before then (and using your Vodafone example), you were charged at about 0.1p per kilobyte, up to a maximum of 50p a day. (After the maximum, further data use was free, within sensible limits.) So you could use a little data here and there, including, crucially, the kilobyte or so that Assisted GPS uses to kick start your GPS locks, and you'd hardly use any credit up.
Now, however, the mobile networks have cottoned on to such frugal behaviour and seem determined to claw more money from us all. Sadly. Now, whenever you use any data, even 1kb, the full daily rate of 50p (and, for many pay-as-you-go SIMs and tariffs, £1) is charged. So, for example, if you have an application checking in with its base, or if you strike up Nokia Maps, or if you simply check you email headers, any of these mean you get charged the full whack.
Potentially doubling, tripling (or more) the rate at which your mobile credit goes down. Complaints via postcard to your network operator, please – I'm as unhappy as you are!
(This original text of mine was originally published in Smartphone Essentials magazine and re-purposed here with kind permission)