Why Did My Data Get Shut Off?

It seems like more and more people are suffering from service suspensions. Data limits exceeded, throttling, cut offs, they all make dealing with a smartphone a serious pain. That said, why is it happening so often now? The answers are often found in a statement as simple as, “I was using the hotspot app with my iPad…” Stop right there.

Tethering is the act of using your smartphone’s data line as a wireless connection for another device. Why is it called tethering? Well, back in the day, one would have to tether their phone to their laptop with a USB cable to do it. It was old school, but it worked great for snagging that email in the park before the smartphone existed. From there, speeds got fast enough to stream music, transfer a bit larger file and eventually even stream video. Tethering grew to include wireless Bluetooth support and ultimately Wi-Fi broadcasting. Anything that hooked to a Wi-Fi router could simply hook to your phone the same way. Life was good.

Now we step in to the 2010’s where everyone is buying a smartphone and everyone is using more data. It has become less profitable for carriers to offer unlimited plans when people were using 50GB of data a month streaming Netflix to their laptops. This is when the MVNO’s had to step back and alter their terms of use to stay competitive and not get their hands slapped by their mother-networks. Unlimited Data took on a whole new meaning. For example, unlimited data now includes the discriminating text of, “users shall not use their device to download, upload or stream any content that includes video, photos, audio or other media” or the even better, “users may only use the native functions of their device when accessing our data network.” This means no Netflix, even if there’s an App for it, no Hulu, again even with an App, or even Pandora over their cellular network without risking permanent destruction.

Is it going to far? Maybe… Should carriers ditch their ‘unlimited’ talk and get in line with the major carriers out there? Of course, and many of them already are going that route. Carriers like Spot Mobile, Simple Mobile and Red Pocket Mobile are already showing your ‘limited’ data vs. your ‘unlimited’ data. Red Pocket Mobile goes so far as to shut down your data when you hit your monthly allotment. That way there’s no surprise overages or charges to keep it going. Spot Mobile and Simple Mobile just slow you down once you hit your 4G limit, but it is to that archaic 2G, dial-up speed that makes life impossible for anything more than checking a mobile Facebook page or maybe sending an email without an attachment.

Overall, check for the honesty in your carrier before you scream too loud. If you are tethering, you aren’t allowed to if you are on an MVNO and you should probably stop. If you are streaming Netflix on an App at the park, you’re going to get throttled or cut off. If you stream Pandora 8 hours a day while you are away from your Wi-Fi connection, your carrier is going to boot you soon enough. Remember, get yourself off the cell data network as much as possible and save yourself the headaches of finding that new carrier.

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