Why Is My Data Slow?

Few things are more annoying than a loading screen, and internet access is no laughing matter. In fact, research shows that the ability to access the internet is linked to an increase of 1.25 points on the life evaluation scale.

So, how can slow data be avoided? If you have been experiencing slow data, you are not alone. Many people, even those with Unlimited Data, experience speed issues.

Read on to find out:

  • Why is my data slow?
  • Why is my data slow when I have unlimited data?
  • How can I make my data speed up?

If you are looking for a new phone or carrier, our find a phone and find a phone plan features make it quick and easy. 

Why Is My Data Slow?

Reasons for slow data speeds include: 

  • Device issues
  • Data roaming
  • Heavy data traffic 
  • Deprioritizing 
  • Full phone cache 

Device Issues 

Whether it is because your phone has a plethora of apps, movies, photos, or games, its software should be updated, or it is simply old, your phone may be causing the data to slow down. Some older phones struggle with new types of cellular data, like 5G, that were introduced after they were built. 

If you have many pages of apps, haven’t upgraded your phone for several years, or have been putting off a software update, this might be your cause. 

If you decide to switch, use our find a phone navigator to find the right new phone for you. All you need to do is input your current carrier, zip code, and the phone you wish to trade in, and, just like that, you will know the right phone for you, hopefully solving your data issues. 

Heavy Data Traffic

Heavy data traffic means many people use cellular data at a specific time. When this occurs, data tends to be slower because the more people that use a cellular network, the less bandwidth is available. 

What Is Bandwidth?

A network’s bandwidth tells you the number of devices it can handle. 

If bandwidth runs low, speeds will decrease. Imagine a river with one boat. The boat could go as fast as it wanted to, right? If the river was full of boats going both directions, full-throttle is no longer an option, and bandwidth is small. 

The most common times that cellular networks are overloaded are early morning and at night. If you wake up and find your data is slow, it could just mean you are using it at a common time, and speeds should improve soon enough. 

Data Roaming 

Data roaming is when your phone switches from your carrier’s network to a different one. Your speeds will likely differ if you are roaming on a different network. This can be costly, too, especially if you accidentally roam internationally. 

How Do I Know if I Am Roaming?

Check the top corner of your device, which usually says 5G or LTE. If it says something you are not used to or have never seen, you may be roaming, which is why your data has slowed down. 

If your phone roams frequently, it might be time to change carriers, to prevent roaming charges and slower service. 

Our find a phone plan tool will make switching easy. It only requires your zip code and current carrier. 


Certain phone plans and networks have monthly data limits. 

What Is a Data Limit?

A data limit is the amount of data you can use before speeds are slowed. 

If you exceed your monthly data limit, speeds will be slowed for the rest of your pay period. 

Why Is My Data Deprioritized?

Even if you have been frugal about your data, your data may still be deprioritized, and speeds will be slowed if your network is an MVNO. 

What Is an MVNO?

An MVNO is a smaller cellular carrier using a more extensive network. Examples of MVNOs include: 

  • Boost Mobile
  • UScellular
  • Mint Mobile
  • Xfinity Mobile
  • Spectrum Mobile
  • Metro by T-Mobile
  • Google Fi

MVNOs are usually cheaper than more prominent carriers and come with the same level of coverage, which helps people save money. The drawback, however, is that, in times of congestion, MVNO subscribers have their data deprioritized first. 

Phone Cache 

A bogged-down phone cache may be causing your speed issues.

Any device that accesses the internet stores data like browser history to make it easier to access. If this fills up, your phone will slow down. 

Returning to the boats and the river, imagine sailing an empty boat. It would likely run smoothly, even at high speeds. However, if the boat were full of cargo, speeds would be slower. Phones and data work the same way. If the cache is full, speed will likely be affected. 

Why Is My Data Slow With Unlimited Data?

Here’s a secret: unlimited data doesn’t meet unlimited fast data. Most carriers have restrictions on their unlimited plans called thresholds or data caps.

If you are looking for a plan with unlimited premium data, which is data that never slows down, use our find a phone plan tool. 

What Is a Data Cap?

A data cap is the amount of data your carrier allows you to use every month before slowing down speeds. 

If you use a lot of data, your speeds may be throttled. 

What Is Data Throttling?

You may have been throttled if you go over a data cap and your speeds slow down. 

This is relatively rare, and you have to use a considerable amount of data, but it is not unheard of. Many plans slow down video streaming if throttling occurs. 

You may not initially notice throttling because speeds are not completely slowed. They become more unpredictable, slowing or losing signal on an irregular basis. This will be more noticeable if your daily routine involves data-intensive activities like gaming or live streaming. If you only use your phone to talk and text, data throttling for a temporary period may not be as much of an issue. 

With most plans, the throttling will only last for the remainder of the pay period. 

How To Fix Slow Data 

Here are a few different ways to try and help your data speeds:

  • Clear out your phone’s cache: In your phone’s general settings or internet settings, you’ll find an option to clear your history or your cache.
  • Check if your phone can connect to newer forms of data: See if your phone can connect to the newest form of cellular data. If it isn’t, consider an upgrade. Your speeds will likely improve, and you’ll get a flashy new phone! Unsure what new phone to buy? Our find a phone navigator will help you find the perfect new phone. 
  • Check that your phone has the newest software: If you cannot download the newest software, consider the above step. 
  • Make sure your device isn’t roaming: If you’re having issues with roaming, consider contacting your carrier. 
  • Consider changing carriers or plans: If you are on an unlimited plan with a slow threshold, you should switch and want one with premium data. Additionally, if you are on an MVNO, and find that speed throttling is too frequent for your tastes, consider switching. 

Need help determining what phone carrier or plan to switch to? Our find a phone plan is here for you. Just enter your zip code, and we’ll find the carrier that best suits your needs. 


If you have caught your data slowing down, it is likely for one of the above reasons. Whether it is clearing your cache, buying a new phone, or finding a new phone plan, do not fret if your data is at a snail’s pace– there is a solution. 

The average cellular data speed is expected to hit 27.06 megabits per second in 2023. To ensure you are part of this exciting period of growth, make sure your phone and carrier are the best they can be. 

We can help you with that. Our website contains resources about everything cellular, from plan comparisons to find a phone and phone plan tools. 


Do Mobile Phones Make People Happier? | Gallup

Cellular Network Average Speed in The United States From 2016 to 2023 | Statistica

Caching: What it is and How to Remove Cached Data | Wired

What is Bandwidth? | Verizon

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