AS an individual and in business, Internet Access has been essential for many years – so much so that at one point the cost of internet access made my domestic budget appear irrational.
Luckily I have never had to choose directly between tomatoes and internet access, though I wish the cost of the two was anywhere near commensurate – tomatoes leading that.
A few years ago, while riding a bus through Helsinki, Finland, I noticed that there was free Wi-Fi from two shopping centres close to each other, along a route I would be using quite a lot during my week there.
Thinking quickly, I jumped onto both networks, then took time off the next evening to walk down to the shopping centres and visit as many places as possible that offered free Wi-Fi, logging in everywhere I could.
That cut my internet access costs down drastically for the time I was there – which was useful because even though I had bought a local SIM card I was confounded by the language of the commands and instructions I needed to follow to load up airtime.
Luckily for me, because I made use of lots of free Wi-Fi, when I had to travel further out to places without it I fell back on the cellular network data, which was largely unused.
The trick, I had worked out, was to switch off cellular data while I was in free Wi-Fi areas, and switch it back on when there was no Wi-Fi.
And like most other serious users, I have always had hacks to get more and more internet usage at the lowest possible cost – starting with night trips to the Infocom offices way back in the mid-90s…which is a story for another day.
Until recently, I always had my phone settings on that automated ‘Switch to either Wi-Fi or 3G’ option non-stop.
Two months ago, however, I was horrified to wake up to an SMS from my provider telling me that my internet bundle had run out in the middle of the night!
This told me two things:
First, that my Wi-Fi at home was rubbish – otherwise there would be no reason for my cellular data to get used while it was active.
Secondly, that I had been ripped off – by myself! See, while I was fast asleep, my phone was busy running down cellular data by downloading WhatsApp messages, synchronising with my various accounts, and conducting all sorts of updates and checks that I could very well have done the next morning in the office!
Within two hours of sleep, I had lost about thirty thousand shillings while doing nothing with my phone – and I felt stupid!
From that morning, I began manually toggling my Wi-Fi and Mobile Data Switches more often in order not to waste money any more.
A new tide has turned for me, and I will share the secrets with you right away so you start making savings you didn’t realize were available to you:
First of all, when you’re going to bed, switch off cellular data entirely because you don’t really need it when you are asleep. Of course, this makes more sense for me since I have an unlimited Wi-Fi connection at home to do those general actions that don’t matter too much.
Even when you awake, take a little time before you switch the cellular data back on – go through your ablutions and THEN turn it on to catch up on news and WhatsApp updates (depending on your lifestyle, of course!)
After that, the important segment of the day kicks in – driving to work.
I have cut down my internet costs big-time by turning the mobile data switch to off while driving anywhere, and also saved lives in the process because I am NOT checking tweets and uploading instagram pics in traffic.
Plus, rather than speed read work emails in between trying not to kill boda boda riders, I now focus on the road and Kampala’s sceneries while planning out my office day or next meeting even better.
The added bonus is that I also keep the Wi-Fi off, which saves me battery life.
Then, when I do get to the office, I turn the Wi-Fi on and use only that for the duration of my time there, because there have been incidents of office Wi-Fi going off and the phone turning to my mobile data with the same effect as the 0330hrs wipe down while I attend meetings or type out non-internet-based reports.
And, to control my usage even more, I am now buying up my internet access in weekly bursts of about 100MBs every so often, rather than block-buying a GigaByte every so often for use in ways I cannot seriously account for.
Within two months, my consumption has dropped to half what it was and I both value and derive more value from my connectivity – a whole lot more than before, thanks to that one single switch!