Where your airtime went and why you cannot browse

This happens a lot of times to the Mobile Network Operator (MNO); notification of an urgent mail or disturbing email from an embittered subscriber.

The tone of most of these emails usually seems to suggest that nothing would be more satisfying to the complainant than earning the network engineers a dangerous query or costing them their jobs. Fortunately, we always find a way around it. And because the customer wears a very glittery crown, we shall go on to explain why you don’t need to drag the field engineer, many kilometers sometimes, to your doorstep only to convince you with evidence, that you have no active data plan subscribed. This is just one of many funny reasons the network field engineers have been pulled out to meet the complainant over claims of a very terrible network since “before-I-was-born” years. 

Yes, this article is also about those times when it appears the mobile service provider uses a very long fat straw to suck your data with legs crossed, over freshly-popped corn and a sizzling on-demand Netflix movie. We hope to provide some respite for those times you loaded 3k (or less, or more) worth of recharge vouchers, and boom! “You have insufficient call credit to make this call” –to that crush of your life who finally agreed to give you an answer at exactly 9 pm.

Here are 10 things to ensure before you blame your mobile service provider. The fact is that metrics do not lie. So let’s delve right in with the following tips:

1. Be sure that your browser settings (APN, proxy, port, username, etc.) are configured appropriately for your service provider/providers. 

For where you are using a dual SIM phone and you have two SIM cards from two different service providers installed, and the data bundle for one of the SIM cards is not active, be sure to disallow your phone from automatically switching data service between SIMs. If you do not do this when the data network on the SIM whose browsing settings are configured and have an active data bundle running goes off, your mobile phone automatically selects the other SIM card as the browsing SIM and you get billed on PAY AS YOU GO basis rather than on standard data plan rates. This explains why your credit miraculously wipes off sometimes, and why you may not be able to call your crush at 9 pm. 

2. Be sure you have an active data plan subscription.

This goes without saying that you need an active data plan to access the internet.

3. Be sure that your phone data is set to the ON position.

There have been cases where a subscriber has an active data plan running, then refuses to follow instructions over a phone call, and insists that the network experience is bad, only to be met by a field engineer who discovers that all this subscriber had to do was turn on the data button. But then again, the customer is always right.

4. For mobile phones that support higher generations of mobile technology (LTE and 5G), be sure to set the network settings to accommodate the highest possible technology if you desire speed.

My personal recommendation is to use a setting that automatically allows your mobile phone to switch between technologies (2G,3G,4G,5G) depending on the availability of each. However, keep the following in mind; the ability to switch seamlessly and fast between technologies (say you’re browsing on 4G and a call comes in and your phone needs to make a quick selection between 2G and 3G because 4G–unlike 5G–cannot handle phone calls) depends on the circuitry of your phone (essentially a function of the make and model of your phone). 

5. Be sure that your phone network antenna is healthy, and/or that your SIM card is healthy.

Test by putting your SIM card in another internet-ready phone and trying to browse.


6. Background apps deal you a great blow most times.

The good news is that you can always find out which app is making life miserable for your data by just a simple check here (for iOS and Android)

7. Keep in mind that 4G means you’ll have more data per second than you did with 3G.

Subsequently, 5G will give you more data volume per second than 4G and 3G. The tricky part is: Your data volume depletes faster with increasing access to the speed of download/upload. And no, if you take a moment to think about it logically, you will see that Peter has not been robbed to pay Paul.

8. You can always ask the call center personnel nicely.

Explaining your situation and asking for solutions calmly helps to resolve the issues on time. Check to be sure you are not sharing data with any party who either has a voracious appetite for downloads/video streaming or is a victim of background data apps data consumption.

9. Try a Google Search

When not sure, and when not immediately able to reach a representative of your mobile network service provider, try a quick Google search of the problem area. You will be amazed at how helpful this could prove.

10. Keep in mind that there is always room for improvement for every service provider.

Time saved from unfounded issues can be spent on real issues, and on research and development.

Until the next edition, keep calling, keep browsing, and keep getting value for your money. Let us know if there are any special interest tech areas you’d like us to write about. Ciao!

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