Friday 21 March 2008

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?)

1 comment:

  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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