There are few things quite as infuriating as unexpectedly running out of airtime and data. As our phones become even more deeply entwined with our everyday lives, running out of airtime and data doesn’t only mean that you won’t be able to make calls, but might also lead to not being able to receive important work-related emails, or not being able to use the GPS for your commute.

There is a range of reasons why your airtime and data might be disappearing. If you notice that it is depleting sooner than expected, you’d do well to make sure that you might not just have been watching or streaming high-definition video or other content, which can chew into your airtime much more than you might think.

Another reason for loss in airtime and data is automated app and software updates. Make sure your settings are set to only do so when in a Wi-Fi area.

On the other hand, the reason for your airtime and data doing a disappearing act could be a virus that consumes data while accessing your internet connection, although this is generally rarer than something far more common: WASP services.

WASPs (short for Wireless Application Service Provider) create and distribute mobile content to subscribers at a fee, but many people aren’t even aware that they might have signed up for a WASP service. This type of content is often charged daily, which means that users can spend large amounts of airtime on it every month.

What to do if your airtime is disappearing

If you have established that your airtime and data is not disappearing because of things like HD content or automatic software updates (you can turn these off in the settings of your mobile device) there are a few other routes you can try to ensure you don’t lose airtime again.

To unsubscribe to WASP subscriptions on your Vodacom account, send an SMS that says “STOP ALL” to 31050. If you have unwittingly subscribed to a WASP service, you will receive a message indicating that your request to unsubscribe has been received, and then another message confirming that you have been unsubscribed. Vodacom customers can also dial *117# from their device and choose “Unsubscribe”. Call Vodacom customer care on 135 to block all future WASP subscriptions on your account.

You could also can limit using streaming services when you aren’t on a data connection, or even switch off your data connection entirely when you aren’t using it. Make sure that you are using data bundles to avoid higher data rates, and set a limit on the amount of out-of-bundle data you use with Vodacom’s call limit lock. Installing an anti-virus programme on your device will protect you against any data-hungry viruses that you might pick up while browsing the web.

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