To Wi-Fi Assist or Not to Wi-Fi Assist?

Featured image photo credit to CBS News.

By: Amanda Boyer

What could be the culprit of data overage charges on cell phone bills? Wi-Fi Assist.

This setting was added in through iOS 9 in order to provide users with the best and fastest internet connection. When users are on their Wi-Fi network and their connection is slow or inconsistent, there is now a setting that will use their cellular network as a secondary source in order to speed up their connection.

“I think it is unnecessary,” Quincy University senior Brenda Cosio said. “I’ll turn my data on when I want it on.”

Once users update their phones to the new operating system, iOS 9 or later, their settings will default to turning Wi-Fi assist on, and they will automatically switch to cellular data without warning, which causes their bills to go up.

“It feels kind of like a blindside,” QU graduate student Marc Everhart said. “They should have notified us directly that it could have cost us more.”

Users phones won’t always automatically switch to cellular data if they are not roaming. Wi-Fi assist only activates when apps are running in the foreground, not when content is downloading in the background.  It also doesn’t activate with some third-party apps, like an email app.

But, the issue arises that within the right circumstances is that users could burn through several megabytes or even several gigabytes, which could cause data overages.

“Fortunately I have unlimited data, so it is fine, but if you don’t, it’s something to have in the back of your mind that you might need to change,” Cosio said.

So how users know if theirs is enabled?

First, go to Settings, then Cellular. Scroll all the way to the bottom, where there is a setting labeled, Wi-Fi Assist, and turn it off.

Now, some iPhone users prefer to leave it on and only have Wi-Fi assist enabled for certain apps like email, YouTube, Safari, etc. That all can be managed within this same menu.

All users can know on their home screen when Wi-Fi Assist is activated, because they will see the cellular data icon in the status bar on their devices.

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