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Understanding and Monitoring Data Usage

October 20, 2010

As part of the BerryWorx service, employees receive an email highlighting their monthly costs and usage. However, with the capabilities built into modern cellular devices, there isn’t always an obvious correlation between how you use your phone and what charges will appear. The following is a high level guide based on the various categories of usage and cost.

Categories of data usage vary by device type – a laptop data stick is handled differently than the web browser on your Blackberry. However, for cell phones, the delineation can be simple: do you have a smartphone or a feature phone?

A smartphone is a device classification that covers Blackberry, and iPhone style handsets, that run full blown mobile operating systems and allow you install complex applications. Feature phones are devices that have limited ability to add additional applications, are typically smaller and lower end devices designated primarily as a telephone. While your feature phone may have a “web-browser”, most find the quality poor and charges are primarily related to text-messaging or traditional calling.
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Smartphone

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Feature Phone

 

With a smartphone, data charges can be incurred in a number of ways:

Email / Calendar and Contact synchronization

Downloading Email attachments

Using the web browser to view websites

Accessing the device’s “app store” to view and download applications

Accessing online music, radio or tv collections

Playing games that connect you with an internet opponent or post your scores online

Downloaded applications that access content not already on the device (book downloads, game-level downloads, application enhancements, social updates like Facebook or Twitter, etc)

Tethering your device (this allows your device to behave like a laptop data stick). It’s also important to note that with Tethering, you may also incur a premium charge on data if not correctly managed.

Data Sticks

clip_image003Internet data sticks are great productivity device that allows your laptop to stay connected to the internet when you happen to be remote or otherwise out of range from a standard wired or wireless connection. Using similar data connectivity technology as your smartphone, data sticks can enable your laptop to perform as if it had an internet connection.

Data Stick charges are related to the amount of bandwidth you consume. However, each data stick also needs a base data plan. Plans can be based on a set amount with overages charges or based on a tiered system where you are automatically “scaled” into the higher cost-usage category if needed.

Your usage will depend on what type of internet-related work you conduct. Occasionally viewing pages and checking email is much different than watching a live streaming movie or downloading large files.

Interpreting your data usage

Data usage is reported in kilobytes (KB). Kilobytes are a computational unit of measurement.
1024 Kilobytes (KB) = 1 Megabyte (MB)
1024 Megabytes (MB) = 1 Gigabyte (GB)
The following chart is provided as a reference:
Item Approximate size
Email message 10 KB
1 MP3 music file 4 MB
CD ROM 650 MB
DVD 4.7 GB
Web Page – CNN.com 200 KB
Web Page – Google.com 50 KB
Online Radio – 1 hour 50 MB
YouTube video – 1 hour 130 MB
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