Adapting to the constraints of wireless broadband

I’ve just been provided with a wireless broadband card by my employer, which is great! However, I’ve suddenly become acutely aware of how much bandwidth I’m consuming using different Web-based applications and applications that tap into Web-based services. On a couple of occasions I had used a MB of data without really doing anything.

So far I’ve used over 50MB of the 500MB/month provided in the data plan and obviously I want to minimise excess usage if possible. Unfortunately the wireless broadband connection software only reports total incoming and outgoing data traffic, so I installed the freeware version of NetLimiter 2 to see if I could get a better idea of what was going on. As result I’ve made a couple of changes to the applications I’m using and will monitor the impact on my usage:

  • I’ve created a new connection profile in Lotus Notes so I could configure the mail client to only download the first 40K of each message – I’ve also stopped the automatic replication of the address book;
  • I’m going to start using the mobile version of Google Reader (I made the mistake of using the offline feature but then realised that unless I read every feed it downloads, then it was actually more wasteful) – however, for the longer term I’m also considering moving to a desktop RSS reader; and
  • I’ll switch from Twhirl back to using Twitteroo when I’m connected on wireless broadband for Twitter.

Twhirl was a surprise, but the numbers appear to speak for themselves – Twitteroo used only 22KB to grab the list of recent tweets from my public Twitter profile (I have a private CSC profile too), while Twhirl consumed nearly 330KB for both profiles when it started. Twhirl is a lot more feature rich of course, but at the moment minimising bandwidth utilisation is more important.

(Hmm. I wonder how much this post used?)

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One thought on “Adapting to the constraints of wireless broadband

  1. Hey James, I’ve just gone into the world of wireless broadband this week too – this time on a 3G handset. I’d actually been using exchange push functionality on Windows Mobile 5 for the last couple of years, and with the new 3G handset I got a traffic reporting application; while I don’t have the fine grained info you’re talking about, I was amazed just how much traffic 2kb per email and leaving a skype session running could actually go through.. I’m yet to do any surfing or using the device as a wireless modem – its next job when I can find time to configure it – but I’m already punching through 5Mb per day without trying…I guess the tip for anyone out there using per KB GRPS style data pricing is to get in touch with your carrier – I’m on a wireless internet plan for my handset, which means I can – and will when travelling – go through my new 2GB/month or 60Mb/day allowance pretty quickly.As an aside, I was pretty excited to finally see Skype’s killer application. Would you believe, it is as a phone? I just needs to live in a phone, not a computer. Messaging, calling and more for only the cost of data, with a persistent and rich IM environment… I’m so hooked.

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