How to Use the Internet on Your Phone Without a Data Plan
Are you getting bigger and bigger phone bills each month? Do you find that your Netflix streaming habits are getting a bit too expensive? You should know that you don’t have to rely exclusively on your data plan in order to enjoy your shows, do online shopping, and chat.
Mobile data may be convenient, but it’s not a cost-effective solution for heavy everyday use.
What Is Mobile Data?
Mobile data is what most phones use to access the internet wirelessly. When you use mobile data, you will be charged for your traffic, according to your data plan. Each carrier has multiple data plans available.
Regardless of your pick, once you’ve exceeded your allocated traffic limit, browsing the internet and watching movies online might be extra costly.
Wi-Fi to the Rescue
Wi-Fi is the most popular alternative to mobile data. On most, if not all Android devices, once you connect your phone to a Wi-Fi network, your data plan should automatically turn off. Under normal circumstances, while you’re at home, at the office, or in places like malls, Starbucks and cafes, you should have a reliable public Wi-Fi network at your disposal.
Smartphones automatically connect to the network with the strongest signal. However, for this to work, the network should be either unprotected or previously saved in your phone.
If you enter an area with your Wi-Fi connection on and the phone can’t connect to the wireless network in that area, the network’s password protected.
You should know by now how to establish a hotspot on your smartphone in order to allow other devices to use your phone’s internet connection. Most people use Bluetooth hotspots to share mobile data to their laptops when they’re working and their wireless routers fail.
This is one of the reasons why it’s nice to have a mobile data plan, at least as a backup. You can also use USB tethering in order to share mobile data with a PC or laptop. To do this, connect your phone to your other device via a USB cable and enable the USB tethering option on your phone.
Your computer might need additional drivers for this to work, depending on its components and operating system.
Now, what’s interesting is that you can also do the reverse, at least with some smartphones.
Some Android smartphones can connect to the internet via a USB connection with a computer. If you enable network sharing on your computer, you may be able to access the internet from your smartphone for free.
Note that this method can also charge your phone at the same time. Here’s how you can enable sharing.
- Go to your phone’s Settings page.
- Go to Wireless & Networks.
- Click More to expand options.
- Select USB Internet.
- Open the Network Connections menu on your Computer.
- Look for a connection with the Shared tag.
- Right-click and select Properties.
- Go to the Sharing tab.
- Check the box next to the “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s internet connection” option.
Pros and Cons of Using Wi-Fi
There really aren’t that many cons of using your Wi-Fi connection instead of your data plan. A strong connection would give you better download and upload speeds.
Then again, you may not always be able to rely on wireless networks to give you a steady signal. That’s especially true if you’re outside your home or office.
One of the few downsides of using Wi-Fi networks is the automatic switch to mobile data that some phones do when they’re out of range. In some cases, this can be good because it works both ways. Once you’re in range of a saved Wi-Fi network, your phone should automatically switch to it and stop using mobile data.
But it’s not a bad idea to keep mobile data turned off until you actually need it. It’s easy to switch it back on from the quick settings menu on most smartphones. You can simply swipe down on your screen from any Android device and tap the mobile data icon to enable or disable it.
Stop Paying Extra for Free Internet
If you already have access to a good Wi-Fi network in the places you frequent the most, you may want to reduce the cost of your mobile data. Some phones can also access the internet via USB or Bluetooth hotspots.
Feel free to tell us how big was your biggest monthly phone bill? Was it worth it? Or are you the type of person that tries to save as many wireless networks to their phone to avoid using mobile data?