Frequently asked questions on internet data consumption/depletion as explained by NCC
In view of recent developments pertaining to the unfortunate spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19), the Federal Government directed a total lockdown of some States from the 30th of March 2020, while some State Governors also directed total lockdowns in their respective States.
Due to the aforementioned, consumers are staying at home and making use of more telecommunications services than ever before, to stay in touch with friends, family, colleagues, work and the world at large.
As a result, the Commission has observed a surge in the number of complaints from consumers regarding Data Depletion and Poor Quality of Data services.
In line with NCC’s (PIE) mandate of Protecting, Informing and Educating consumers, the Commission immediately investigated the complaints and ensured resolution as necessary.
However, the Commission also believes that it is necessary to empower consumers with information on data consumption and usage to enable them get better value from their data subscriptions and to get prompt redress where necessary.
To achieve these objectives, NCC have developed the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) with regards to data consumption and usage:
What is Internet Data Usage?
Internet data is a service provided by telecom service operators to the end-users to enable them access the internet.
The speed of the access and the nature of activities which the consumer can carry out often depends on the nature of the technology in use.
Access technologies are usually classified into “Generations” to denote their age and characteristics, as follows:
- 2nd Generation Technology (i.e. 2G) is circuit switched technology which is relatively low-speed GPRS, EDGE mode or their equivalents
- 3rd Generation Technology (3G) is packet and circuit switched and is in HSPA, HSPA+ m ode or their equivalents
- whilst, 4th Generation Technology (4G) is packet switched technology, that is, LTE, LTE-A mode or their equivalents.
Each of these technologies provides different speeds and protocols for using the internet.
Newer generations of phones are usually designed to be backward-compatible, so a 4G phone can communicate through a 3G or even 2G network.
What does G stand for?
As explained above, “G” stands for “GENERATION”. When you connect to internet, the speed of your internet access is dependent upon the signal strength and the access technology.
The technology is shown in alphabets like 2G, 3G, and 4G etc. right next to the signal bar on your mobile phone’s home screen.
Does the usage of 2G, 3G or 4G have impact on data usage?
Can this also lead to depletion of data?
Absolutely, Yes. The higher the generation, the higher the speed, and consequently the faster your mobile data is consumed.
What is Mobile Data?
Mobile data is internet content accessed by, or delivered to your phone over a wireless/cellular (i.e. mobile) connection.
When you purchase mobile data plans, you are entitled to a certain amount of data over a fixed period of time.
You can also access the internet through Wi-Fi connections depending on whether you have access to that particular Wi-Fi network.
With mobile data however, you can use the internet as long as your phone can detect your network’s data signals, and you have an active data plan on that network.
Therefore, the mobile data is what allows your phone to get online when you are away from Wi-Fi.
What causes Data Consumption/Usage/Depletion?
Your data is used whenever your phone connects to the internet.
The following activities are the most common uses that reduce your data:
- Sending and receiving emails,
- Downloading and uploading files (pictures, documents, videos, etc.) –the larger the file, the more the data consumption,
- Browsing the internet – the more pictures, videos or graphics on the websites visited, the more data is used,
- Instant Messaging – like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, etc.
- Streaming music/ videos on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and other channels,
- Games – games use a lot more data than most people imagine, due to the intense graphics and algorithms that power them,
- Social media applications such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Video-chatting and conferencing applications like Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp Video, etc.
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