Internet use via desktop computers is on the decline in Switzerland, while online activity via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets is on the increase. But many consumers spend far more on mobile data than necessary. Here you can find key tips on using mobile data on the go.
1. Compare mobile plans
There are major differences in the mobile data services which you receive with different mobile plans. These include differences in pricing, included mobile data, data transfer speeds, the lengths of binding subscription terms and customer service. Before you subscribe to a mobile plan, take time to compare all available offers and choose the most affordable plan which matches your mobile needs.
2. Choose the right data allowance
Many mobile plans and some prepaid plans come with a certain amount of mobile data included in the basic fee. Typically, this data allowance is one or more gigabytes per month. If you do not regularly use data-intensive services – or do not use these at all – a data allowance of 2 gigabytes or less will normally be sufficient. Important: Once your data allowance for the month has been used, mobile data will either be throttled to speeds so low as to render the connection near-useless or you will be charged additional fees for continued data use.
3. Consider unlimited mobile data plans for heavy users
If you frequently use data-intensive services like apps and streaming services via mobile data, subscribing to a plan which includes unlimited mobile data is generally the best choice.
Numerous unlimited plans are available from Swiss telecom service providers. Important: Some service providers advertise unlimited mobile data but then throttle transfers speeds to near-useless speeds after a certain limit is reached.
4. Buy suitable data bundles
Buying individual data bundles in keeping with your data use is a good alternative to subscribing to mobile plans with unlimited data. Prepaid mobile users in particular will find prepaid data bundles an attractive option for affordable mobile data.
The most affordable data bundles have just a few megabytes of data and cost several Swiss francs, but multi-gigabyte data packages are also available. Take care not to buy more data than you will actually use because most data bundles expire shortly after purchase – typically after around one month.
5. Choose the right transfer speed
Data transfer speeds can vary between mobile plans or prepaid offers. The rule of thumb is: The faster the data transfer speed, the more expensive the mobile plan. Swisscom customers, for example, have to pay more for plans with higher data transfer speeds.
Do not get dazzled by advertised speeds of several hundred Mbps. Very few mobile users will ever make use of speeds that high. A mobile plan or prepaid solution with a data transfer speed of 20 Mbps or more is perfectly sufficient for the average mobile user. Some plans, on the other hand, come with data transfer speeds of only a few Mbps. Mobile users which perform all but the most rudimentary tasks via mobile data will find these low transfers speeds insufficient.
6. Do not stream via mobile data
Streaming videos via streaming services like Youtube or Netflix involves the transfer of large amounts of data. The same applies to the use of navigation systems and music streaming services like Spotify. If your mobile plan only includes a limited data allowance, avoid using data-intensive online services via mobile data. Stick to using these services via wireless local area networks (WLAN) instead.
7. Take advantage of free wireless networks.
Many restaurants, cafés, hotels and even supermarkets and busses in Switzerland now offer free Internet connectivity via WLAN to their customers. Using WLAN whenever possible will help you avoid using up your mobile data allowance. If you have a broadband connection at home, stick to using Internet via your own wireless network when at home.
8. Keep tabs on your data usage
If your mobile plan has a limited mobile data allowance or if you are using a data bundle, keeping tabs on your data usage is a good idea.
Many telecom service providers let you check your data usage status online or via SMS. Doing this is recommended, especially if your provider automatically charges extra for additional mobile data use once your data allowance has been used. If that is the case with your plan, setting a limit on the amount of data which can be transferred via your smartphone can help you avoid unexpected charges.
9. Use 4G
Not all mobile networks are equal. Currently, 4G (LTE) represents the most powerful radio transmission standard for mobile devices available on a broad scale. 4G allows for more efficient data transfers than other mobile networks standards like 3G and GSM. In practice, that translates into faster mobile data transfer speeds.
It is important to note that whether or not you can connect via 4G depends on your mobile plan. Some older plans are not 4G-enabled. If that is the case with your current plan, migrating to a different plan can make sense – provided your phone supports 4G.
10. Pay attention to roaming fees
Using mobile data while traveling outside of Switzerland can become very expensive very quickly. Following a few important guidelines can help you avoid excessive data roaming charges. You can find these listed in the moneyland.ch guide to data roaming.
11. Use your phone as a hotspot
Many travelers prefer to browse the web on laptop or tablet rather than their mobile phone. If no WLAN is available, you can turn your phone into an Internet hub using the tethering function. This allows you to access the Internet on your various devices on the go.
Pocket Wi-Fi hubs provide an alternative to using your mobile phone as a hotspot. These devices are available for under 100 Swiss francs and provide a powerful hub through which multiple devices can access the Internet. These are particularly practical when you travel to other countries because you can simply insert a local SIM card to use a local mobile data service. This lets you avoid data roaming altogether while still being able to receive calls to your Swiss phone number via your phone.
Good to know: A number of Swiss telecom service providers offer special mobile plans specifically for Internet connectivity.