Mobile Data Caps: How To Curb Your Usage

Recently the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge appealed to the FCC to look more closely at mobile broadband models which charge by usage. The group, which protects consumer rights by ensuring universal access to affordable and open networks, among other mandates, want to know how mobile carriers and some cable television companies will be able to fairly impose data caps when a higher number of devices and applications which encourage video consumption are being released on a regular basis.

History of the Data Cap

Data caps arose from what operators called a ‘capacity crunch’, which is basically an already-high and growing demand for data combined with no way to regulate usage of that data and therefore ensure reliable service. In the beginning when the crunch was first identified, operators weren’t aware of its full scale. Nor did they know how to use management tools effectively.

The use of tools to control subscriber behaviour, such as caps and usage warnings did work to alert the consumer, but soon warned operators that their customer relationships could be put at risk. It was heavy-handed tactics such as the ‘throttling’ of connection speeds by one major internet company that caused the creation and imposition of data caps.

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With the revelation that global tablet sales will exceed those of personal computers in just three years from now, and that the sales of smart phones have already accomplished this, many consumers are beginning to wonder how, in what they consider to be the absence of a fair billing model, can lessen their usage and therefore keep their monthly mobile bills affordable.

Mobile Data Caps How To Curb Your Usage

Redirecting Usage

Although many consumers find viewing video content online to be the most convenient, especially on a mobile device, and often disconnect their television service at home, keeping that service may be more financially feasible. Just because viewing online video is possible on a mobile basis, doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be done. One solution to reduce costs could involve choosing an alternative cable TV package that offers fewer channels, but also a lower monthly price. You may also consider the cost savings of subscribing to a plan that offers a lower amount of data for your phone or tablet.

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Data Compression Services

Less data can be added to a mobile account each month by using a service which reroutes and compresses the data sent and received from a mobile device, such as Onavo. The service is offered via an app that’s installed on a smart phone or tablet. Once initiated, the user need only tap a button to begin saving on their data. This particular app claims to reduce the size of data by up to 80%.

Turn Off Data Hogs

Some apps and programs your smart phone or tablet uses may need to connect to the internet periodically in order to update to the latest version or provide you with new information. Because this can often occur in the background, it can slowly eat away at your monthly data allotment. Checking with the app creator’s web site or on online forums can reveal how to turn these automatic connections off when you’re not using your apps. Apps are also available which tell you how to access free services on your phone or device that can lessen your data usage.

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It is hoped that an investigation into data caps will soon be launched, as the outcry against usage-based billing continues to become louder. In the meantime, consumers should be aware that more companies are imposing data caps and understand how they can be affected by them. Having this information can result in fewer surprises when your monthly bill arrives.


Guest author Jesse Schwarz writes on a variety of topics, particularly in the technology and broadband industries.  He recommends for guidance on what to consider when selecting anti-virus software.