There’s an interesting contrast between the amounts of talk time and data provided in new mobile contracts.
While talk time is usually plentiful in today’s call-averse culture, mobile data quickly evaporates through everyday activities like music streaming and social media browsing.
Because additional data top-ups are comparatively expensive, it’s important to find ways of minimising mobile data usage while you’re out and about.
One solution is to harness the ready availability of free broadband services.
Free broadband sounds like an oxymoron, and it is in one sense – every connection has to be paid for by someone.
More specifically, it’s possible to make generous use of third-party broadband connections without contributing anything towards the cost.
Devices are constantly sending and receiving information even while they’re on standby, so logging into available WiFi networks represents good housekeeping.
(We’d recommend leaving WiFi turned on to scan for broadband networks. However, turning off Bluetooth and lowering screen brightness helps to reduce the overall drain on battery life.)
These are some of the ways to enjoy free broadband when you’re away from your own WiFi router.
Harness mobile network services. The UK’s big four mobile networks all offer free WiFi, across BT and Virgin Media infrastructure.
As an example, O2 devices should automatically connect to WiFi hotspots in London Underground stations.
Log onto other domestic WiFi networks. Most domestic homes have WiFi networks with plenty of spare bandwidth, so ask friends and relatives for WiFi passwords.
Saving these login credentials onto your handset will ensure the device seamlessly switches away from 4G during future visits.
Use connections in neighbouring properties. This is an extreme version of the above, and it involves building strong relationships with your immediate neighbours.
However, in temporary or emergency situations, a kindly neighbour might let you connect a device to their broadband router – assuming its signal is strong enough to reach your home.
Look for indoor and outdoor networks run by your broadband provider. Sky, BT and Virgin all have millions of WiFi hotspots in public places around the UK.
Android and iOS apps automatically connect to these hotspots once they’re in range, providing free and unlimited bandwidth to existing account holders.
Use WiFi in public buildings. Instead of sitting in a café, library or museum burning through 4G data, check whether customer WiFi is available.
If the network isn’t open, don’t be embarrassed to ask for a password. Also, don’t forget to save these passwords for future visits.
Look for community WiFi. Towns and cities have begun rolling out free urban broadband services, to help residents and visitors make the most of their surroundings.
For instance, Glasgow City Council’s GlasgowCC WiFi is provided by BT. It’s available on key shopping streets, around Central and Queen Street train stations, and at tourist hotspots.