May 13 AT 11:42 AM Nick Sarafolean 25 Comments

How important is mobile data?

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The Internet is the lifeblood of today’s world, coursing its way through a growing number of possessions. Without a doubt, the Internet has a number of uses, including the one that you’re using right now as you read this article. But the Internet is like a lockbox, and that lockbox requires a special type of key to open it. One that generally has a recurring cost to keep it open, and perhaps the key will only work for so long before it stops working. This key is called data access.

While data access can come in a few different ways, the method that deserves special attention is mobile data access. Mobile data is a topic that can garner plenty of attention within the technology blogosphere. Why? Because it affects all mobile technology with an Internet connection on the go. Usually it’s brought up with the intent of informing customers about new changes within data plans or perhaps what the next move from a carrier will be. But less frequently is it discussed in a broader sense–the aspect of its general importance.

Here’s the question: how important is mobile data to you?

My main impetus in bringing this question up is my recent switch to T-Mobile. While I’ve talked about switching to T-Mobile for months, possibly even years, it didn’t actually occur until just over a month ago. Why the delay? T-Mobile doesn’t have data coverage in my area. Yet, as time went on and I noticed my data usage becoming less and less, the issue became less of an issue. It carried on until the point that I decided there was no further point in waiting and I switched.

And you know what? I haven’t missed mobile data.

Okay, that’s not completely true. The first three or four days had a couple of moments when I went to check something while in the car or while shopping, and found myself unable to. After that, it was all smooth sailing. You see, I found that mobile data wasn’t nearly as important as I’d tricked myself into believing. With the prevalence of WiFi, Internet access can be found almost anywhere. Combine that with a little patience and you’re set.

I used to be a firm believer in mobile data. Unlimited data was one of my big must-haves when I first got into smartphones. It took me over two years to finally kick the can on unlimited data. It was after I realized that I’d only used my unlimited data on one occasion, every other time was simply average data usage. With that in mind, I switched to a shared data plan for the benefit of the family plan that I was on.

Really, shared data worked surprisingly well. The only problem was when we had a couple of overages, it caused a big ruckus of pointing fingers before we actually checked everyone’s usage. Continuing on the shared plan simply caused me to naturally tone down my data consumption. As time went on, I ended up at a data usage of about 150Mbs each month. Yes, that little. The craziest part? I didn’t even mind.

Over the years, I’ve had my frustrations with Verizon and I’ve long wanted to switch off to my own independent plan on either AT&T or T-Mobile. But with all of T-Mobile’s changes in the past year, the choice became clear that T-Mobile was the carrier for me. There was just one little snag in the plan. T-Mobile didn’t have data coverage in my area.

For a while, this kept me from switching. I didn’t think that I could live without mobile data. But in the end, I gave in and decided to give a shot with the result that I made a most miraculous discovery.

I didn’t miss mobile data.

Sure, there were a couple occasions where I could have used it, but those haven’t been replicated because they were easily solved with some simple planning ahead. Mobile data, I found, wasn’t really all too important to me.

The lack of mobile data has actually benefited me in a couple of different ways. Not only has it saved money on my bill, but it’s also helped me to plan ahead and to spend more time focusing on the world around me, rather than my phone. Without mobile data, I’m (for the most part) freed from the barrage of incoming notifications that I usually receive. Since dropping mobile data, I’ve found myself engaging in more and more conversation, rather than getting absorbed into the digital world contained within my phone. It’s been a refreshing change that I haven’t regretted.

Now I’d like to turn the question to you. How important is mobile data to you? Is it something that you can’t live without? Have you ever tried to live without it for any length of time? If you haven’t, I urge you to try it. By the end, you might even find that you like it!

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @Zricon15.

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