How to Buy Mobile Data for your Smartphone?

How to Buy Mobile Data

Mobile data gives you internet access on your mobile device wherever you go within the coverage area of your service provider. Unlike the other internet connectivity options such as Wi-Fi and wired connections, mobile data doesn’t restrict your internet access to a fixed location such as your home, office, or other establishment.

Those alternatives usually come with fixed infrastructures such as data cables and routers. Mobile data plans connectivity, on the other hand, is made available through your account with a network carrier, which comes either with a phone SIM-only plan or a prepaid plan.

That means mobile data allows you to take your internet connection with you anywhere you take your phone or SIM-card, as long as you’re within your carrier’s coverage area. This makes it more ideal for people who are always on the move.

Mobile data plans are usually offered along with other inclusions such as voice minutes, SMS/MMS, international calls, etc. They also come in different expiry dates and data-to-price ratios. Mobile data plans have generally become more affordable in recent years, thanks to the ubiquitous spread of mobile devices and the increased competition in the network provider market.

How do you determine what mobile data plan suits your needs?

First, you need to determine what your needs are. What devices will you use the data on (laptop, smartphone, office desktop, etc) and what will you be using the data for (work, entertainment, connecting with friends and loved ones)? Will you be sharing the data plans with others such as your family, your employees/co-workers, etc.?

If you want to use the mobile data plan on your laptop, then you should opt for a mobile broadband plan, but if you want to use it on your smartphones and tablets, then mobile data plans will suit you better.

range of devices

A lot of factors determine the mobile data plan best-suited for you, including range of devices & internet activities

What is prepaid mobile data?

As the name implies, prepaid mobile data plans are paid for in advance. As such, there’s no need to enter into a contract where your get billed automatically over a period. Instead, you pay for your consumption upfront on a month-to-month basis.
Many prepaid plans now come with even longer recharge periods – some as long as 365 days – with larger data-to-price ratios.  And if you run out of data and want to recharge immediately, you can do so at a flat rate without incurring fees charged on the purchase of addition inclusions as in postpaid plans.

Here are some advantages of prepaid mobile data plans:

  • Prepaid plans give you the flexibility to switch between plans from different service providers.
  • You can delay or move up the renewal as you wish because your plan isn’t completely tied to an expiry date.
  • They allow for a wide variety of ways to pay your bills, from scratch cards to sales and service centers, debit/credit cards, and even mobile apps.
  • You’ll have better control over your data consumption as you can’t consume more than you opted for at the start of the plan.

Here are some of the drawbacks of prepaid mobile data plans:

  • Prepaid data plans are relatively more expensive than postpaid plans.

What is postpaid mobile data?

Postpaid mobile data plans bill you after you use your data for a month. They come in different variants with different terms and conditions to give users a wide breadth of usage options. The billing can be done automatically, with options for another cycle of plan inclusions to roll in after the automatic billing

There are also variants for both phone contracts and SIM-only plans. SIM-only plans are usually the most preferred, since the device you’ll be using the data on isn’t locked to a particular network, making it easier to switch to offers from other carriers.

Here are some of the pros: 

  • On the whole, postpaid mobile data plans come with larger value-to-price ratios than prepaid plans.
  • There are many offers to choose from depending on your data needs.


  • They come with relatively fewer bill payment options.
  • You can’t easily switch to plans from other networks since you’re committed to paying a monthly billing to that network for a set period of time.
  • They come with fixed billing dates (usually within the first week of the month), so if you run out of your allowance and want to renew, you’ll incur charges for purchasing additional inclusions, and you’ll be fined for late payment or your service will be disconnected temporarily if you fail to pay up on the billing date.


Buying mobile data for your smartphone is as simple as making a purchase on your self service app, your carrier’s self service website, or calling your telco. There are also many other purchase options, especially for prepaid mobile data plans — for example, scratch cards purchased at shops. Mobile data keeps you connected to the internet without WiFi or wired broadband services.

Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.