Friday, June 5, 2015

What Size Data Plan do I Need?

When you’re looking for wireless Internet service, you can run into a lot of technical terms and numbers that might not seem very familiar, or intuitive. When we speak of wireless internet service we are talking about your cell phone or even a hot spot device such as a MiFi. Often times RVers will make their cell phone a hotspot and this applies to what we are talking about as well. Whatever provider you may choose, they’re likely to have a variety of service plans available, so how do you know which one best suits your needs? Let’s take a look at some of the information you’ll need to find the right data plan for you.

How much data will I use?
Likely the biggest factor that will go into your decision is how much data you will be using each month. When choosing a plan, this data is likely to be listed in gigabytes, or GBs – this number will be the amount of data you will be allowed to download over the course of the whole month. Netflix, downloading movies and music, playing online games, and even sending and receiving emails will use up data, and you want to pick a plan that will have enough data to last you all month. If you run out of data, you will either have to pay a much more expensive rate for more data, or you will lose Internet access altogether until the next month starts!

What uses the most data on my plan?
So how much data will you be using? That depends on what you will be using it for. The biggest use of data for most users is watching videos. Every Netflix movie, or Hulu show, or YouTube or Facebook video, uses a large amount of data, especially if you’re watching in high definition, which many videos will do automatically. Just one hour of watching high definition video will use roughly 1GB, so if you like watching movies and shows online, you can know right away that you will need a large data plan to accommodate that.

Downloading and streaming music, viewing pictures, sending and receiving emails, and just browsing the web will probably round out the rest of your data usage, but it’s all small potatoes compared to the amount of data that videos eat up. Just 1GB of data can contain 20-40+ hours of music, 500+ pictures, 200+ mobile apps, or 10,000+ emails. Browsing web pages uses data based on what is on the web page, so be careful, because even though text doesn’t take up much space, a page with lots of videos or pictures could use up more data than you expected!

With that information in mind, you should be able to roughly estimate how much data you will need in a month. Here is a chart to show how “Daily” use adds up to a “Monthly” total.

Daily use
1GB
5GB
10GB
25GB
Video
2 minutes
10 minutes
20 minutes
50 minutes
Songs
15 songs
65 songs
130 songs
325 songs
Pictures
16 pictures
80 pictures
160 pics
400 pics
Apps
6 apps
30 apps
60 apps
150 apps

How can I be sure to not run out of data?
It’s important to keep an eye on your data use – most providers will have a way to check online how much data you have used. Some providers will send you a text if you are about to go over on your data. Be careful not to go over, and remember that anything that is using the Internet is using your data! Having movies, TV shows, or music playing in the background using programs like Pandora or iHeartRADIO while you do other things can be relaxing, but it can also be a dangerous use of data. Never forget to turn them off before falling asleep, or before leaving for a long time! Purchasing your favorite TV shows, movies, or albums on disc can be a good alternative to using your data, but uses up precious space in your RV, so you must find a healthy balance.

What about the campground's WiFi?
Something to keep in mind is that if you are connected to a park's WiFi, and you are having problems with the speed of your Internet service, such as choppy videos or songs, or web pages loading too slowly, upgrading your data plan is not the answer (if your cable was messing up, buying more channels wouldn’t fix it!). Instead, a WiFi booster can dramatically help your connection speed, and make sure that your videos, songs, and web pages come through quickly and clearly in and around your RV.

TechnoRV offers many solutions for boosting your devices ability to receive WiFi signal. It can be so frustrating to be at a RV park that offers free WiFi and not be able to connect to it appropriately. TechnoRV can help solve this problem with outside antennas and inside solutions as well. For more information on boosting your WiFi signal, download our WiFi guide.

If you use your cell phone as a hotspot, or if you use a MiFi device, and you find yourself having signal issues, then you can always use a cell phone booster to boost your signal. These devices can solve many signal issues and make you trip less frustrating. TechnoRV also offers cell phone boosters