Disappearing data detected on Cell C — why it happens

Tests for disappearing data by MyBroadband Insights reveals that mobile data on Cell C’s Home Connecta Flexi package disappears over time, even when mobile data is switched off.

For this experiment, MyBroadband used Nokia 5 smartphones that run a default version of Android.

Our test devices were reset to their factory defaults and were updated over Wi-Fi to ensure no minor updates happened during the test.

We then disabled future updates and restricted data usage for all processes through the Android settings.

MyBroadband bought a new Cell C Home Connecta Flexi package, and we checked the SIM for WASP services before starting the tests.

The device remained connected to a stable Wi-Fi network throughout, and we switched off mobile data to ensure the phone could not consume the data bundle.

No action was performed on the phones during the one-week testing period, except checking the balance using a USSD code.

The table below summarises the results of this most recent test, showing that over the span of a weekend, 1.36MB was consumed from the Home Connecta Flexi data bundle.

Disappearing Data Test
Service Start (27 August) End (30 August) Data consumed
Cell C Home Connecta Flexi 41519.43 MB 41518.07 MB 1.36 MB

A MyBroadband Insights experiment conducted earlier in August found that Cell C was the only mobile operator in South Africa on which disappearing data occurs.

Cell C chief technology officer Schalk Visser said that this could be due to various conditions, including that Android smartphones can use mobile data while connected to an LTE network even when the connection is disabled.

Regarding this specific test, Visser said that Home Connecta Flexi is an LTE product.

Visser said Cell C could confirm that they recorded valid chargeable usage on its data network for our test device.

“As previously advised, under the 3GPP LTE standards, data traffic is possible across the 4G mobile network even when the ‘mobile data’ setting is turned off,” explained Visser.

“The process of conducting our own testing is still ongoing.”

When MyBroadband conducted similar tests in 2020, we found that data disappeared on the Cell C and Vodacom accounts used for the experiment.

Vodacom’s response to our queries at the time provided curious details.

Data was being deducted due to connections to Google services such as “connectivitycheck.gstatic.com” and traffic to resources that belong to Amazon, HP, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, China Telecom, and MIT.

Vodacom appears to have addressed this issue as data is no longer disappearing on its network when we tested it in August.

Now read: Cell C Home Connecta Flexi tested — with surprising results

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Disappearing data detected on Cell C — why it happens