Local mobile networks MTN and Vodacom have had a lot of explaining to do over the past week after users complained that their data was being depleted faster than usual despite not changing their usage habits.

MTN has now provided a comprehensive guide to help customers save their “missing” data.

MTN pointed toward data settings on users’ mobile as the main culprit behind fast depleting data. This is how you can stop that:

LTE smartphones

LG G4 readers 2

Many modern smartphones are configured for heavy data usage and are compliant with new generation networks such as LTE/4G.

This super-fast network is capable of high download speeds and heavy data consumption which ensures that users can seamlessly undertake a variety of data applications.

The speed comes at a cost; because of high speed configuration, many smartphone users who use LTE-compatible smartphones use a lot of data when accessing applications. In other words, the faster the speed, the more data bundles are utilised.


Safaricom Intel Yolo Smartphone

The number of owners of enhanced smartphone handsets has increased as the devices have become more affordable. However, a lot of customers still don’t know the full capabilities and functionality of the devices they purchase.

Some devices have none or limited data functionality and others, full data functionality which is directly linked to the amount of data usage. The transition from a feature phone to smartphone has an impact on data usage.

Some of these new smartphones now also allow apps to work in the background regardless of whether you are using them directly or not.

As long as an app is running on the device it will continue using data. Earlier smartphone and smartphone software versions did not allow this. Customers need to be aware of their handset capabilities and subsequent data usage impact.

Automatic updates


Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram have become an integral part of our lives. Since their introduction to the market, these platforms are continuously being updated in response to customer demands, new functionalities and bug fixes are added to make them more user-friendly.

Often, the updates are automatic and continue to run in the background using user data.

Most customers are not even aware that some automatic updates can consume up to 3Gb of data. To stop automatic updates, users have to access their data settings and deactivate updates if they wish to save their data bundles.

Alternatively, they can update more cost effectively using WiFi.

Social media goes HD


Facebook and Instagram have also upgraded to HD resolution which is crisper and offers more detailed visual resolution. However, the higher rendering HD uses more data. As a result, normal browsing on Facebook and Instagram would cost a user more than it used to when these platforms were on standard resolution.

Software updates

Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft has given Windows users the opportunity to update to the latest version of its operating system for free. While the update to Windows 10 is free, it requires a lot of data which is a 3GB file download.

Surfing the net


Logging onto a website can result in data being consumed by adverts running on the page while one is browsing a specific article.

Photo and video sharing

P8 (2)

Instant messaging platforms have become one of the many modes of communication for sharing content such as photos and videos. While this might appear to be cost effective, many users are unaware that sending videos and pictures consumes data bundles, and this can escalate to up to 16Mb per message.

Out of bundles rates

Out of bundle rates are charges for each megabyte transferred outside of the stipulated period which is normally 30 to 60 days. Customers who deplete their data bundles before the stipulated time will be charged a premium per Megabyte when they top up during that period. Customers are advised to purchase data bundles that suit their consumption patterns and buy them when they have reached their monthly allocation.

[Main image – CC 2.0 by Public Domain]