Thursday, July 7, 2011

How to disable your data connection in Android

There are tons of resources available to provide the steps that I am about to provide.  I just wanted to share this as well and my story as to why I needed to do this.

Here are the steps that can be performed to disable your data connection on your Android based phone.  This only disabled your mobile data connection such as 3g/4g/etc.  It does not interfere with your WiFi connection/adapter.

Open dialer.
Dial *#*#4636#*#* to open “Testing” screen.
Tap on Phone Information.
Press the Menu key or button.
Tap on More.
Tap on Disable data connection to disconnect and make inactive any
data connection immediately.
Tap on Disable data on boot to disable data connection on next boot up.

**The same steps can be performed to Enable the data connection.

I have a limited data plan for my phone.  I did not sign up for the truly unlimited plan prior to talks of AT&T purchasing T-Mobile (when their unlimited plan became 2GB).  I opted for the lower tiered plan of 200MB.

Yesterday at 4:59PM EST, I received a text message from T-Mobile saying that I had used 90% of my monthly bandwidth (180MB/200MB).  I checked My Account and verified I had 19MB remaining.  This was fine since I had 3 days until my next billing cycle began and I generally use WiFi vs 3G so I don't accidentally go over my predetermined bandwidth.  I was shocked that I even used this much.

About 20 minutes later, I receive another notification that I have exhausted my entire 200MB.  At this point, I don't know what is going down.  I used my Android Advanced Task Killer app to make kill everything was open.  I called T-Mobile to try and see if there was anything they could see on their end and if there was the possibility of suspending my data connection either from their end or if there was something I could do on my phone to stop it.

After the representative verified that I have used all 200MB of my bandwidth, and that I've gone over approximately 1.65MB (10 cents per MB overage charge, rounded up of course), she informed me that they could not temporarily turn off my data connection.  In fact, she offered to upgrade my plan to the next tier (which is the 2GB ""unlimited"" plan) so that I would not be charged for any overages.  And I could call back after my billing cycle reset to downgrade back to what I had (you didn't think they'd call ME back to downgrade my service did you?).

I explained that my whole point is that I don't want to pay extra for anything.  I'm not planning on using it, I just want to preemptively stop the connection so I don't use it until the next cycle.  She placed me on hold to see if there was anything that could be done from the phone.

After a few minutes of potential data raping charges she came back with a code I could punch in on my dial pad.  #763#  She said this would disable my 3G connection and I could dial  #766# to enable the connection once my cycle reset.  Excellent news! I was very excited about this.  I immediately hung up the phone and dialed #763#.

I was on the highway heading to a friends house.  I decided to wait until I arrived before verifying the success of this code.  When I got out of my car, I brought up my browser and was disappointed to find that I still had Internet access.  I dialed the code again and then read the message box, "Your Intl Data Roaming is turned off."  Great... let's call T-Mobile back shall we...

I called back and spoke to another person.  I explained the situation as briefly and effectively as I could.  She too verified the overage (which hadn't gone up from the 1.65MB) and proceeded to recommend upgrading my plan.  It would only be $5 more a month to bump my phone up.  I actually started to bite until she then said my monthly total would go up $15 more.  This was because I would have to upgrade my base plan, which is some old plan that's been grandfathered in, and I would have less features then I do now.  Once again, she was of no help.  My only solution was to place my phone in Flight Mode until I needed to make a phone call.

When I awoke this morning, I fired up my iPad and searched a variance of this article title and found the steps outlined above.  *#*#4636#*#* This brought me into the "testing" menu where I was able to disable my data connection.  After disabling, I verified I was no longer able to access the Internet unless I connected to WiFi.  Problem solved.

For anyone wondering what may have attributed to my data usage, I believe it was 2 apps that my daughter had been playing the night before.  I didn't check to see if they were running, and they have advertisements that I think kept cycling all night long.  That and any "data mining" that was being performed probably contributed.  And the conspiracy of my phone using 19MB within about 20 minutes... I think T-Mobiles notification system or whatever checks your usage is behind awhile and it just took that long to let me know.  In any case, I hope this helps someone else out there.