How to Compare Wireless Data Plans

As mobile devices and smartphones get more sophisticated, they are increasingly requiring a wireless data plan if you intend to use them on the go or outside of an area covered by a mobile hotspot. Each of the cell phone service providers now offers several mobile broadband internet service plans to choose from.

The concept of being able to get access to email, web pages, music and videos from just about anywhere is exciting but it can also be expensive if you aren't careful. Depending on how much data you use and whether you are willing to sign a service contract, the cost of these packages can vary greatly.

When these packages were first introduced, several carriers were offering unlimited data plans that would allow users to transfer as much data as they wanted to for a fixed cost. In recent months, cell phone service providers have started to phase out unlimited data offers because a select few heavy users were driving up subscription costs for the rest of the customer base.

Deciding Between a Prepaid and Contract Plan

Most providers now offer either a prepaid option or a contract based option. Before you sign up for a specific plan, it can pay to shop around for the best deal. Start by doing a wireless data plans comparison across several networks. This will give you an accurate picture of what the current rate landscape looks like.

Selecting a provider may seem like a daunting task at first but it isn't very difficult once you get familiar with the industry related terminology and know what you are looking for. Most carriers offer a data usage calculator on their websites and it is beneficial to take a moment to estimate the amount of monthly bandwidth you will need before you start comparing plans. Once you clear this hurdle, your chances of making a costly mistake will be greatly reduced.

Network Coverage and Usage

Next, check to see how much monthly usage you get from each plan to find the best value. Finally, be sure to make note of any overage fees or charges once you find a plan that interests you. Remember that signing a contract will usually result in a lower monthly cost but it will also prevent you from switching to a different provider if you are unhappy with your service. There isn't anything wrong with choosing to go this route, just be sure to do the extra research and make sure your carrier has adequate network coverage in your area before you sign on the dotted line.

If you want to take a wireless data provider for a test drive, feel free to do so using one of the prepaid service options. Some carriers offer the option to buy service in blocks as small as a single day. This is a great way to get a feel for what you could expect from a longer term agreement.

Signing Up For a Plan

Once you've identified the right plan for you, signing up for service is simple. In some cases, you can start new service right from your mobile device by selecting a package and entering your payment information. This is the easiest method and will usually get your service up and running the fastest. If your device does not support this feature, a quick trip to your service provider's website or local retail outlet is all it takes to get connected. After you have completed the steps above, you will be free to enjoy all the benefits of mobile broadband on your favorite device!