What Is Cellular Data & How Do I Turn It On Or Off?

You have come across the term, cellular data in different places and from different people. What is cellular data? It is the Internet connection from your cellular company or carrier, also known as a wireless service provider. It works via your physical SIM card or eSIM in your phone. It is what you use when there is no WiFi available.


How Does Cellular Data Work?

How does it work? Once a SIM card is in your mobile phone and powered on, it connects to a cell network through a wireless service tower nearby. This allows your phone to make calls, send and receive SMS, as well as connect to the Internet for Web browsing, email, social media, instant messaging, and other needs. Wireless towers come in all shapes and sizes these days, and some of them may not even appear to be towers, unless you take a closer look. But all cell phones communicate wireless through signals transmitted through these towers. All carriers have them.

Cellular data is available in various forms of advancement. Most cellular carriers here in the USA and Canada have shut down their legacy first generation networks and are in the process of shutting down 2G and 3G networks, too. But if we have to go back in time, cellular data includes CDMA 2000, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, WCDMA, HSDPA, HSPA, 4G (LTE), and 5G. It is available wherever your wireless service provider has network coverage.

What Is Cellular Data & How Do I Turn It On Or Off?
Cellular data is available in various forms. 5G is the most advanced cellular technology today.

If your carrier has turned off their 2G and 3G networks, you will be able to use only 4G and 5G for data on their service. Almost all US carriers have total 4G coverage now, and 5G coverage is increasing at a fast pace, so this is not a problem. Just be sure to buy a cell phone that is 4G or 5G enabled. If interested in 5G, here is an article detailing where 5G is available in the USA.


Should Cellular Data Be On Or Off?

If you have a SIM card in your phone, have a data plan subscription, cellular data will be on by default. Thankfully, here in the US, unlimited data plans are available for a small monthly fee from many carriers. If you choose not to use cellular data (perhaps you have WiFi access at home and at work, you can simply turn the feature off on your smartphone and not bother with a subscription from your carrier. Many US mobile users do this; you will not be alone.

How To Turn Off Cellular Data On Your iPhone

Over 50% of the population of mobile users in the United States use an Apple iPhone. To turn off cellular data on your iPhone, open Settings > Cellular. If the toggle next to Cellular Data is green, that means data is enabled. Toggle it to grey to turn it off. To turn it back on, go back to the same menu and toggle it green. Note that if your data is toggled off, your phone will be unable to connect to the Internet via your carrier; you will require a WiFi connection in order to have Internet access.

How To Turn Off Cellular Data On Your Samsung Smartphone

Samsung is the second most popular smartphone brand in the US. To turn off data on your Samsung phone, open Settings Connections > Data usage. Tap the switch to turn it off. To turn it back on, return to the same menu and tap the switch to enable it.

How To Turn Off Cellular Data On Other Android Phones

To enable or disable data on Google Pixel, Nokia, OnePlus, Motorola, or other Android phone, got to Settings > Network & Internet > Mobile Network. Tap on the switch next to Mobile data, to turn it off. Note that the exact names of these menus may vary, depending on the customization made by the phone manufacturer.

In summary

Cellular data is an internet connection provided by a wireless service provider. You can enable or disable it, and you can also set it to automatically switch where a Wi-Fi network is available. Outside of the United States, cellular data is more commonly called mobile data or mobile Internet.

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