Sipping data…

Ron and I both have “dumb” phones, so we change our plan over each June to allow us to make phone calls from and to Canada, then change back to our original plan in September, once we’ve returned to the States. We don’t worry about data on our phones. This does, however, keep us Verizon customers for another two years each time we make a change.

Ron and I both have cellular iPads. We do carry data on our iPads. Ron works from his iPad, often having at least one or two articles he needs to submit to Practical Sailor while we’re away. We’ve tried various options to get data for his iPad: changing out the SIM card to a Canadian carrier (works great, but you need a Canadian credit card and we’re through sponging off good friends), going through a secondary company that provides you with the SIM card and Canadian address to load data to your account as needed (a huge pain and took us nearly 3 weeks and countless hours on the cell with Rogers support before it suddenly began working), trying the prepaid VISA or MasterCard (Canada will no longer allow the prepaid cards for their recurring charge data plans)… It was all unsatisfactory and didn’t seem worth all the trouble. Why not just buy international data plan through our account?

The international plans turned out to be oh-so-easy and very reliable. It’s easy to sign up through your existing account, and easy to monitor. The only problem is that it’s $30 per month… for 120 MB. One-hundred-and-twenty-megabytes. That is close to nothing if you do any monitoring of your data. We discovered very quickly that one check of Facebook takes about 4 MB. You can eat through a month’s worth of data in just a couple of days if say, you’re checking photo-laden websites of tug-trawlers for sale… (It wasn’t me…)

$30 for 120 MB is insanely expensive considering we were getting 5 GB of data for $35 Canadian (+ tax) through Rogers and Bell, but we were borrowing Canadian friends’ credit cards to purchase it. One of these summers we’ll need to find out if they have begun offering a non-recurring plan, as AT&T has started doing for their U.S. customers.

Unless I’m on wifi (oh, how I long to get back to some decent wifi!), I’ve learned the following “sips” data and helps it last most of the month:

Remove “PUSH” off from all email

Turn off “load remote images” on email messages

Remove all apps from cellular data unless I know I want them to connect to the internet (email program, one browser, iMessage, my blogging app are the few I’ve left open to cellular data)

Turn on “ROAMING” when you wish to get online, then turn it off once you’re finished downloading email, sending messages, checking weather, etc. (This will prevent your device from connecting to the internet should you’ve forgotten to turn an app “off” from cellular data)

I have found that plain text email and iMessage uses very little data, so I’m keeping in touch with our kids and family. (My kind daughter avoids sending photos or video until I let her know I’m on wifi.) I can check the Canadian weather website and NOAA as they don’t hog up data. However, Facebook? Forget it! It’s a data hog!