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ACE - Sage

ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015 6:17 PM

Data Management - Cause for gray hair, hair pulling and stress!

How to understand and get Data Management under control without medication, hair pulling


I will introduce myself by warning you good readers, I am a dog trainer and I usually "click and treat" a lot during lessons. Since I can't send hotdogs via the Internet, your treat is any knowledge you gain from this article.

I joined AT&T more than 18 months ago with my extended family, shortly after starting as an independent trainer. Timing was perfect. I purchased a Note 3 and received an 8 inch Note as a bonus. I write all my training curriculum on tablets, save in PDF form in Google drive and send to my clients- paper free. It keeps the drool off the homework that way. I make appointments, take notes, pictures of clients and sometime video of their progress, all with my mobile devices.

I love my clients and my job, even if I do get paid "spit"


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Now, let's get down to business...


Faulty phone, faulty applications, upgrade to 4G LTE phone, kids/teens, social media, operator error, wifi problems.

Diagnose first:

Two things to look at, battery and data use. Open settings, look at data/cellular usage. Scroll down and note which apps are using the most data. Do the same with battery use. Anything using your data is likely to also show high battery use.


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Understand second:

There is a trend toward blaming the carrier if a customer doesn't understand the data usage. If your phone says it used the data, then it did. If your phone shows substantially* less usage than is being reported, then take a screen shot for proof and call for tech support. ( *Note: 100  mbs more or less is not substantial. )


How it works?

Data reporting is not done in real time. The actual data use could have been hours, or days earlier. Towers often report data back in 3 hour intervals during non peak hours.
Towers note when a connection to a particular IMEI/ESN (International Mobile Equipment Identity/Electornic Serial Number - unique to your phone and SIM card) opens, pass to a new tower and closes. Once it closes, it sends data totals back.

The connection closes when you leave a tower's area, connect to wifi, turn an app off, turn off your phone. Think of each tower like a faucet with a measuring cup with your phones IMEI number on it. It notes when you connect, when you pass on to another tower and disconnect because you are connected to wifi, turned apps off, or turned the phone off. It is then that each tower can measure and starts sending back totals. This is of course when you are home, on wifi, phone off and asleep.



We use our phones for business, medical, financial, personal and even questionable uses. The contents of your phone are personal and private. Only you can see which apps are used or what websites are visited. On your bill the carrier can only categorize use. Example: "Audio" may be music, text to speech, notifications and ringtones.


Faulty phone. Just to get the least likely, but most costly cause of data overage out of the way next; a faulty phone. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it can be a ridiculous amount of data is a very short time. In some cases, customers have reported no applications open or in use, yet a phone continues to use many GBS of data. If this happens, don't wait for your carrier to credit your account, or the Calvary to charge to your rescue. It may be an app you downloaded, try running in safe mode. A factory data reset may resolve the problem. Restoring all data may also restore the problem. Save essential information so it can be synced back to your phone.

If none of this has any effect, the phone must be replaced.

A related cause can be an application running amok. Running in safe mode can determine if it is an app, or the phone itself. Downloading apps from unknown sources exposes your phone to this risk, so be careful. I find free music downloaders are problematic. If you use them, delete the App after you download.

Android smartphone running version 4.0 or later you can check your data usage and set alerts and limits. Go to Settings and under Wireless & Networks tap on Data usage. You’ll see a table showing your data usage for a specific period of time. You can check the box that says "Set mobile data limit" and then move the black and red lines to set an alert usage amount (so you’ll get a warning when you’re closing in on your limit), and a hard limit (which will prevent you from going over). The drawbacks are: As above, data is not reported in real time, set your limit slightly below your actual cap and the user can change this limit any time (kids may alter the setting).


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Anyone on your plan can check data by texting *3282#


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Common causes for an increase in data use

Switch from an old 3G phone to a brand new 4G LTE device. If you upgraded to a new phone and suddenly noticed it is using 2-3 times more data, it is not a faulty phone. The newer, bigger phones use a lot more data to do the same tasks. Video and images load in HD, tasks can be run faster, so you can do more. The recommendation is 2 GBS of data for each 4G LTE smartphone, for normal use.


Kids/Teenagers. Gotta love them, but they do not always understand what uses data. Personally, I taught my kids how to control and monitor their own data and hung the threat of turning it off on the account over their heads. I feel if the child is old enough for a smartphone, he or she is old enough to keep to their allotted data. The option to add AT&T smart limits may be preferred by some customers. This shuts off a lines data when it reaches the limit. This is a subscription service, so please check on the charges involved. There have been reports it is flawed. As described in the beginning of the article, data takes hours to report back, so your child's phone can reach and pass the limit before the computerized switch gets the message and shuts them off.

Also, in your child's defense, if their room is far from your router, and is not properly set up, it may connect to the superior, cellular connection rather than poor wifi.

If a phone is working correctly, it switches to wifi when available. Some customers are controlling data by manually turning mobile data and wifi on and off. This is an unnecessary action if the phone and wifi are working as designed. It can also backfire horribly if you forget the switch back to wifi at home. However, if your wifi is not sufficient, you have no choice.

Social media applications. This may go hand in hand with Teenagers. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter all use a lot of data for video and photos. These applications have settings within the app to limit mobile data by turning video play off.


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YouTube, aka, "data drain extraordinaire" should be wifi only.

And email settings.... Email itself doesn't use a lot of data, but links to photos, video or websites increase use. Settings are with email application to restrict attachments.

Operator error. Your smartphone is a little computer. They no longer come with paper manuals because the software changes too often. Please look up and read the online user manual or check out AT&T's online manual for your device. Updates to software may change your settings, please review them after an update to your phone.

Restrict applications in the background. Path to follow: settings, data usage, select each app individually to restrict. If your phone has a battery conservation option, it also restricts data use in the background.


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An application running in the background. This could be a nasty little surprise on anyone's phone. I decided to test and see how this could happen. I opened the app for my security camera and checked on my dogs while I was out. Rather than logout and close the app correctly, I left it running in the background for 5-6 hours. Later in the day , after I was home and on wifi for a while, I closed the application properly. About 3 hours later, the towers all reported back a total of 5 GBS of data used. My phone correctly reported the data use by the security camera application.


Wifi problems fall into 2 categories, (a) faulty wifi antenna in the phone or (b) poor wifi service from your home equipment.

a. If the fault is in the phone, it will have problems with many or all wifi. Either refusing to connect, or dropping constantly. If this is the problem, a reboot, battery pull, or reset of network settings may be the quick fix. If not, a factory data reset may resolve the problem. In some cases the phone must be replaced.

b. This is the tricky part in today's connected homes, but it may also be the culprit if you have massive overage on apps you insist are only used at home, on wifi. Streaming devices, computers, smart TVs, tablets, cellphones all divide your incoming bandwidth into smaller and smaller portions. Distance from the router is also a factor. If your phone drops wifi, other devices are slow or drop connection, pages load slowly, the problem may be your router, modem, service, or a combination of the three. Reconfiguring your router may resolve the problem. This may require a service call, but if you have regular overage charges it's a bargain. Poor wifi reception may sneak up on you unless you use a wifi only device regularly, which would make a reduction is service noticeable. The faster and more capable smartphones become, the more intolerant they are of poor internet connections. Run a speed test direct from your modem, upload, download and latency. That last one is important. If the graph looks like an EKG, you have a problem (figure h). Trouble shoot with your service provider. I recommend a dual channel, 2.4 and 5.0 ghz router with extenders if needed. My personal pick (after several high rated routers failed to deliver) is the Apple AirPort Extreme and or base station. It is not the only excellent router out there, but it works well for me, and we are not a completely Apple house.


What can I do with 1 gigabyte (1024 MBs) of data?

Of course we don't use our phones for just one activity on this list, but a combination of these can easily add up to more than we expected.

Send 50,000 emails without attachments
Stream 33 hours of music
Browse 1,000 web pages
Post 2,800 pictures to Facebook
Watch 8 hours of YouTube
Watch 45-60 minutes of Netflix in HD


iMessage uses data to send text messages. It doesn't use a lot, unless you send as many text messages as the average teenager. If your kid "talks with thumbs", you might want to turn iMessage to wifi only, or off.

Find out how much data iMessage has used since you last reset data totals, follow this path on your iPhone: open settings > cellular data > system services > messaging services.

Phone, iOS 9 wifi assist. If you have an iPhone running iOS 9 the wifi assist is on by default. This setting will default your phone to LTE if the LTE signal is stronger than your wifi signal. Great for performance, but it will really take a chunk out of your data plan. Best to just turn this off.


Have a great data management tip?  Please post it in "Comments."  Thanks!




🐾 I don’t work for AT&T or any carrier. Former AT&T,  Current Verizon customer.  My replies are based on experience and reading content available on the website. If you posted personal information, please edit and remove. 

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*I am not an AT&T employee, and the views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

9 Attachments



1.1K Messages

9 years ago

Good post. Very useful information for tracking down those horrible data problems. Will certainly help a lot of people.

ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

8 years ago

Like any other learning experience, it's a "gift" that keeps on giving. I learn new things every day about how we interact with mobile data. It is my wish to take all the mystery out of it!
So I am adding a few notes based on communications with some customers who are really struggling with the subject. Some may seem redundant, but everyone learns differently, so no one explanation is going to fit every person.


You have a data meter for data use on your phone. On iPhone you have to reset the meter each billing period. (My android phone provides me with billing period metering)
The totals each month should be close to ATT reported totals.


Your phone and ATT may not record data in the same way due to some rounding errors. Your phone independently records its data use and should be within a reasonable number of mbs of the totals reported by ATT towers.

The data meter on your phone is independent of ATT recording. It it says you used the data, then you did. This doesn't rule out a faulty app or faulty phone.

The analogy I use most is your data plan is like a checking account, your phone is like the checkbook and debit card. Purchases made during the day are not deducted from your checking account at the moment you write the check or swipe the debit card.
Each tower = a point of purchase.
ATT towers = debit card purchase, often recorded as 'pending' and will be deducted soon.
Partner towers = check, no way of knowing when it will be deducted. International roaming data can take weeks to be deducted.

The delay in towers reporting back to ATT computers is several hours. Partner towers take longer.
Just like your checking account, the data isn't reported back for several hours, often overnight, and then deducted from your data plan.

If you have an android phone, there is an option in settings to provide a warning and a cap. It has to be set slightly below your cap to be sure not to go over.



ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

8 years ago

A new find:   A customer on Verizon forum had their SIM card replaced and the excess data use on the phone stopped.  Since it worked for one, I'm adding it to the list of things to try.



ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

6 years ago

Delayed data usage information is on our bills..



1 Attachment



214 Messages

6 years ago

Thanks, very useful information. Will follow recs.



ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

6 years ago

Average data use per smartphone in 2013 was under 1 gig per month.  Just 2 years (2015) later it was just under 3 gigs a month.  This goes along with the carriers collective totals that customers consumed twice as much data in 2014 than in 2013.   Those averages held until carriers offered unlimited plans again, but are not much higher.  

    The biggest contributing factors:

▪️More cell phones. US consumers were dropping landlines in favor of cellular only.  Single users are often using cell phones as their sole source of internet and communications.  

▪️4G/LTE and bigger screens.   More data can be processed in less time.  LTE is 100 times faster than 3G.  Higher resolution screens, faster processors and more efficient applications and operating systems.  Updates and new phones are designed to make the most of the hardware.  Making games more fun, music higher quality and video better resolution, and chewing more and more data.  It’s all designed to use MORE data.   The biggest shock was for people moving from 3g small screens to LTE big screens.  In 2014/15 I saw the most complaints from folks who upgraded from iPhone 4s to LTE iPhones.  

    In the first month or so, I’m still fiddling with settings and getting my phone set up the way I want.  It always jacks up my data just a little in the short term.  

     I’m going to say it....brace yourself,  wait till 5G and 5G phones come out.  I’m on a capped plan, we are using about half+ monthly.   I’m already wondering what kind of hit my plan will take when we get 5G phones.   😳   If it’s anything like the jump to LTE, it will blow minds. 🤯  

    iPhone users;  the App Store has a couple free apps to meter your data automatically.  My “Data Meter” and “DataMeter” work well.  The settings the first time are fussy, but it’s much easier than resetting yourself.  

    Android still has an excellent data meter included, it just has to be set to your bill cycle.  


ACE - Sage


117.6K Messages

6 years ago

Just so folks don’t think questions are unique to one carrier:


New Member


13 Messages

2 years ago

Like some other opportunity for growth, it's a "gift" that continues to give. I learn new things consistently concerning how we collaborate with portable information. It is my desire to remove all the secret from it!
So I am adding a couple of notes dependent on interchanges for certain clients who are truly battling with the subject. Some might appear to be excess, however everybody advances in an unexpected way, so nobody clarification will fit each individual.

You have an information meter for information use on your telephone. On iPhone you need to reset the meter each charging period. (My android telephone furnishes me with charging period metering)
The aggregates every month ought to be near ATT announced sums.

Your telephone and ATT may not record information similarly because of a few adjusting blunders. Your telephone autonomously records its information use and ought to be inside a sensible number of mbs of the aggregates revealed by ATT towers.

ACE - Expert


24.5K Messages

2 years ago


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