How can I figure out airtime and data costs (Chichewa)
Myriam Oh hi, Josephine! I haven't seen you in a while!
Josephine Yes, I went to visit my brother. Annette, you look tired!
Annette Oh how I miss sleeping through the night! My precious baby sleeps so sweetly in the daytime, then when night comes, she cries like a hyena!
Myriam and Josephine (laughter)
Josephine So, look what my brother gave me!
Annette A smartphone?!
Josephine Yes! He bought a new phone so he gave me his old one. I am so excited to use it!
Myriam It's exciting, Josephine. There are so many things you may use it for. Just plan for your phone costs to go up a bit.
Josephine Really? Why?
Myriam Well, because you will probably want to use your smartphone for things beyond calls and text messages, so you will need to buy data in addition to the airtime you get for talking and texting.
Josephine Eh? What is data?
Myriam Your phone uses data to connect to the internet to send or receive information. That's how you are able to use services like Facebook and WhatsApp.
Annette Wait - what does my basic phone connect to for receiving information?
Myriam Basic phones use the mobile network for voice calls and text messages. But smartphones allow much more than that.
Josephine Myriam, I have been taking pictures on my new phone! Does that mean it will be really expensive?
Myriam No, you don't use any data by taking pictures. But if you were to send them to me on WhatsApp, that would use data.
Josephine Oh I have so much to learn... I am worried I will accidentally use a lot of this data without knowing it.
Myriam Since you haven't bought a data plan or top-up yet, there is nothing to fear. You can buy data plans of all different sizes and sometimes with your airtime. When you are on the internet on your phone, your usage is measured by how many MBs of data you are using.
Annette MBs? What is an MB?
Myriam MB means megabyte... I don't know what it means really, haha! But I do know sending between 15-20 pictures on Whatsapp uses around 1MB. I also know that watching videos uses the most MBs, so I do not watch Youtube or other videos very often.
Josephine I see, so how do I buy MBs, or what did you call it? A data plan?
Myriam Yes, you can buy a specific number of MBs in a data plan. I just bought a plan using mobile money, though you can also buy data with your airtime credit. The plans usually have expiration dates. My data plan of 5 MBs will end in 1 month.
Josephine Ok, and can I check my balance?
Myriam Yes, once you have a plan, you can regularly check to see your data use. And if you want to be extra cautious, you can turn off "Mobile data" in your phone, and you will just be able to make phone calls and text instead of using data.
Josephine Oh, there is so much I don't know...
Annette Josephine, you have raised three children! I have only been a mother for a few months and I already know that if you can learn how to do that, you can learn this!