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updated 9:31 AM UTC, Sep 22, 2017
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Mobile Phone Nightmares; Where Did My Data Go?

On the first day of every month, do you check how much data service you can use in the next thirty days? Do you always exhaust your data quota by the end of month? Have you ever wondered where the remaining data went?

The good news is that China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecommunications, China's top three major telecom operators, in the past few months all launched rollover data services, meaning that unused data at the end of the month will no longer just disappear. It is considered as an important policies in response to requirements by the government, aimed at lowering Internet prices and elevating connection speeds.

Before the launch of this policy, users could not use data rolled over from the previous month, thus wasting it. Therefore, the rollover data service has received much support. However, one month after the implementation, more and more incidents of so called “data sneaking”, a phenomenon whereby users find large amounts of data disappearing for no reason has been exposed to the public, thus causing much debate on social media. For example, according to Guangzhou Daily, Mrs. Long, a China Telecommunications customer in Guangdong Province, found in a shock, that she “used” 23GB of data from 13:40 to 16:20 on 1st November, at which time she was charging the phone on her desk. According to Changjiang Daily, on 12th November, Mrs. Chen, another China Telecommunications customer living in Wuhan, “used” a total of 50GB data during her sleep.

“It is not the telecom carriers’ fault and since implementation there have not been any students coming to us to complain about an abnormal use of data service. Actually it is several APPs that should be blamed for these affairs,” a staff member of the China Telecommunications Business Hall in Nanjing University said when asked about the possible reasons for data sneaking. The “Big Three” always set up business halls inside universities, serving as small and temporary stores equipped with several clerks from their companies, in order to satisfy students’ need.

In fact, every time people download APPs to their mobile phones, especially phones equipped with the Android system, they are asked whether to give them rights such as the sending or receiving of text messages. Many users never pay attention to this and simply choose yes. Such trust just gives APP developers opportunities to “steal” users’ data. Malicious software makes use of consumers’ neglect to achieve their goals. Through taking control of the APP and sneaking data service, these Apps can secretly surf the Internet automatically and accomplish high click rates. The click rates often serve as indications that help investors determine whether this application is a popular and promising one. Only in this way can these APPs achieve their investment return.

However, besides the problem of data sneaking, many users complained on social media that the speed of data usage seems to be faster than before. That means even if they use the data in the same way as they used to, more data would be consumed according to the bills. As a result, if they do not buy more data, hardly will there be any remaining data for next month.

However, some people think of it as an illusion. “In fact, everything is the same. After implementation, many people pay more attention their data usage, wondering if they can benefit from the policy. That may be the cause of people’s illusion that the use of data becomes faster and faster,” a clerk of China Telecommunications Business Hall explained.

Although some users have confronted problems with the policy, others have benefited from it. Feng Pu, a junior student from Law School in Nanjing University, has been a customer of China Telecommunications Business Hall for three years. “I don’t find anything wrong. I had three hundred MB of data remaining last month. Thanks to the policy, I can still use it this month. It’s great,” Feng Pu said.

Experts advise users to take steps to make sure they use all paid-for data. Firstly, do not download APPs or files randomly. Most of those will not only sneak your data but also leak out your private information as well. Secondly, shut off backend processes whenever you do not use them. Very often, these programs do not stop working if you just exit the application. Last but not least, pay attention to your data usage. If you find an abnormal situation, go to telecom carriers’ business hall and request the bill, and ask for help in understanding what is the problem.

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