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Using Cellular Data Networks to Connect to the Internet

The provider for your iPhone also provides a cellular data connection your iPhone uses to connect to the Internet automatically when a Wi-Fi connection isn’t available. (Your iPhone tries to connect to an available Wi-Fi network before connecting to a cellular data connection because Wi-Fi is typically less expensive and faster to use.) These networks cover large geographic areas and the connection to them is automatic. Access to these networks is part of your monthly account fee; you choose from among various amounts of data per month at different monthly charges.

Most providers have multiple cellular data networks, such as a low-speed network that is available widely and one or more higher-speed networks that have a more limited coverage area.

The speed and name of the cellular data networks you can use are determined based on your provider, your data plan, the model of iPhone you are using, and your location within your provider’s networks or the roaming networks available when you are outside of your provider’s coverage area. The iPhone automatically uses the fastest connection available to it at any given time (assuming you haven’t disabled that option, as explained later).

Whenever you are connected to a cellular data network, you can access the Internet for web browsing, email, etc.

One thing you do need to keep in mind when using a cellular network is that your account might include a limited amount of data per month. When your data use exceeds this limit, you might be charged overage fees, which can be very expensive. Most providers send you warning texts or emails as your data use approaches your plan’s limit, at which point you need to be careful about what you do while using the cellular data network to avoid an overage fee. Some tasks, such as watching YouTube videos or downloading large movie files, can chew up a lot of data and should be saved for when you are on a Wi-Fi network to avoid running out of data. Others, such as using email, typically don’t use very much data.

When you are outside of your primary provider’s coverage area, a different provider might provide cellular phone or data access, or both. The iPhone automatically selects a roaming provider. Roaming charges can be associated with calls or data use. These charges are often very expensive. The roaming charges associated with phone calls are easier to manage, since it’s more obvious when you make or receive a phone call in a roaming area. However, data roaming charges are much more insidious, especially if Push functionality (where emails are pushed to your iPhone from the server automatically) is active. And when you use some applications, such as Maps to navigate, you don’t really know how much data is involved. Because data roaming charges are harder to notice, the iPhone is configured by default to prevent data roaming. When data roaming is disabled, the iPhone is unable to access the Internet when you are outside of your cellular network, unless you connect to a Wi-Fi network. (You can still use the cellular roaming network for telephone calls.)

You can configure some aspects of how your cellular network is used, as this task demonstrates. You can also allow individual apps to use, or prevent them from using, your cellular data network. This is important when your data plan has a monthly limit. In most cases, the first time you launch an app, you’re prompted to allow or prevent it from using cellular data. At any time, you can use the Cellular Data options in the Settings app to enable or disable an app’s access to your cellular data network.

To configure how your iPhone uses its cellular network for data, perform the following steps:

  • circle-01.jpg Open the Settings app.
  • circle-02.jpg Tap Cellular.

  • circle-03.jpg To disable all cellular data connections, set the Cellular Data switch to off (white) and skip the rest of these steps. The iPhone is no longer able to connect to any cellular data networks. To use the Internet when the Cellular Data switch is off, you have to connect to a Wi-Fi network that provides Internet access.
  • circle-04.jpg To disable the high-speed network, set the Enable high-speed network, where high-speed network is the network name (such as LTE) switch to off (white). The iPhone is no longer able to use the higher-speed network, but can access other, slower cellular data networks.

  • circle-05.jpg To configure roaming, tap Roaming.

  • circle-06.jpg To prevent voice calls when you are roaming, set the Voice Roaming switch to off (white). (Not all providers allow for preventing voice roaming, so you might not see this option.) When you are outside of your provider’s network, you won’t be able to make or receive voice calls. When you disable Voice Roaming, Data Roaming is disabled automatically so you can skip to step 9.
  • circle-07.jpg If you want to allow data roaming, slide the Data Roaming switch to the on (green) position. When you move outside your primary network, data comes to your iPhone via an available roaming cellular data network. You should disable it again by sliding the Data Roaming switch to off (white) as soon as you’re done with a specific task to limit roaming charges.

  • circle-08.jpg Use the other options you see to complete the Roaming configuration. For example, if your phone uses a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) network, you can disable International CDMA to try to improve your phone’s performance.
  • circle-09.jpg Tap Cellular.

  • circle-10.jpg Swipe up the screen until you see the USE CELLULAR DATA FOR: section. This section enables you to allow or prevent individual apps from accessing a cellular data network. To limit the amount of data you use, it’s a good idea to review this list and allow only those apps that you rely on to use the cellular data network. (Of course, if you are fortunate enough to have an unlimited data plan, you can leave all the apps enabled.)

  • circle-11.jpg Set an app’s switch to on (green) if you want it to be able to use a cellular data network.
  • circle-12.jpg Set an app’s switch to off (white) if you want it to be able to access the Internet only when you are connected to a Wi-Fi network.
  • circle-13.jpg Tap Settings when you’re done configuring your cellular network use.

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