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Understanding / Controlling Data Usage esp. w 4G LTE Cellular Router

Mark221
Member

I believe that Verizon could provide better information about data usage and about tools for monitoring and controlling usage.  This is particularly problematic in our rural area where all our data has to go through a 4G LTE cellular router so there is no "free" WiFi data.  Here is my compilation of what I have figured out and what I would like to know / suggest for Verizon to consider.  Any answers to my questions, verification of my "facts", suggestions, etc. would be greatly welcome as we are going through 30+ GB/month and as near as I can tell the family is not doing anywhere near that number of hours of HD movies that data calculators would suggest are required to eat that much data.

Data Usage Monitoring and Control Tools

MyVerizon – General

            My Usage – Amount of data used by each device during current cycle

            Data Utilization – Percent usage in different categories for selected device

            Data Log (exportable to Excel)

            Usage Alerts – Text / Email alerts at selected percent data usage

MyVerizon – Family Base Controls – Usage Limits

            Set usage limits for each device with optional cut off at limit and alert message

4G LTE Cellular Router

            Determine which devices are connected

            Block selected devices

            Set WiFi password

            Set the maximum number of connected devices

Apple iPhone

Settings – Cellular Data usage and usage by app (does NOT include WiFi),
can reset statistics

Data Usage / Control Understandings Believed to be True

  1. While data usage via WiFi typically is considered to not count against your data usage, this is not true if your WiFi is provided by a 4G LTE cellular router which then incurs the data charge instead of your WiFi connected device (in contrast to a hardwired router with WiFi for which there is typically unlimited data usage in the plan and therefore no data usage charge for the WiFi connected device)
  2. The My Verizon usage statistics are not real time, usage may be posted some time after it occurs (which creates a very misleading presentation of usage vs time in the MyVerizon data log etc.)
  3. Data usage by a device that goes directly to the cell tower is equal to the data transmitted both directions
  4. For the 4G LTE cellular router it is possible to hide the Admin password so that it is not accessible on the router display but it does not appear to be possible to hide the WiFi password on the router display

Data Usage / Control Questions Needing Answers

  1. How does data usage with a 4G LTE cellular router work – Is the data usage charge only for data that is exchanged between the router and the cell tower or does it also include data over the WiFi between connected devices and the router, e.g., (a) if you have a computer and printer each connected by WiFi to each other via the 4G LTE cellular router does printing a document use data against your plan (counting twice – once from computer to router and once from router to printer) or is it not charged at all as data usage and (b) if you have a smart phone connected via WiFi to the 4G LTE cellular router and you are doing internet etc. does data get charged once (phone to cell tower via router) or twice (once from phone to router and once from router to cell tower)?
  2. If data usage is not available in real time, how do the Family Base data cut offs work? Is data usage over the cut off that comes in late stored and then charged against data usage at a later time, e.g., when more data is allocated to the device in Family Base or a new billing cycle begins? (Is this one source of the “data spikes” that people report in the Community Forum?)
  3. Why can’t data usage tracking be much closer to real time?

Suggestions for Improved Tools

  1. For the 4G LTE cellular router provide a way to specify which devices are allowed to connect (rather than which ones you want to block)
  2. For the 4G LTE cellular router provide a way to track data usage for each WiFi connected device (now data usage by WiFi connected devices is all lumped together and attributed to the router as the device)
  3. For the 4G LTE cellular router make it possible to hide the WiFi password so that is not accessible on the router display
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Re: Understanding / Controlling Data Usage esp. w 4G LTE Cellular Router

Weth
Sr. Leader

Overall great suggestions.

The data calculator is out of date and data use for HD streaming is much more than indicated.  For web pages, it is not accurate for pages with lots of ads or media. 

Any data to and from the cell tower is counted. It s only data exchanged outside you network, so device to device in your network does not use data. 

I Agree with your 4 assumptions.

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Re: Understanding / Controlling Data Usage esp. w 4G LTE Cellular Router

richlife69
Member

I have the same situation.  The Verizon router establishes a subnet (internal network) for your home.  Any data transfered within the subnet will NOT count against your data usage -- only data that exchanges between the router as an internet gateway to the tower will count against your usage.  (If you have a weak signal, I've been told that dropped, and thus repeated, packets will count also.  I have a solid signal and have never seen packet loss on the Verizon router.  That is something you can only determine using the Verizon router diagnostics -- which are very minimal.)  So in direct answer to your question, traffic to your printer within your home subnet will not add to your data usage. 

You need to check your Verizon router to verify that the defined subnet has ALL of your devices defined to it.  That insures that all internal traffic is INTRANET versus INTERNET.  Internet traffic counts as data usage regardless of how the device connects (direct 4G or through the router). 

I had the same questions.  To resolve and get the answers, I bought my own router from Netgear.  I used it connected via ethernet (not wifi) to the Verizon router which then allows me to subnet my internal network one layer lower.  The Netgear routers allow much better monitoring and control over the outdated router model that Verizon uses.  Netgear also has a nice app named Genie that helps simplify the information about your subnet.  Note that ALL my internal home devices connect to the subnet (internal home network) established by the Netgear router -- none except the Netgear router connect to the Verizon router. 

With the Netgear router utilities, I can monitor my overall usage daily, weekly, monthly (total and average) and match them against the reported Verizon data.  For the past six months of my monitoring, there has been a 100% correct correlation between my internal Netgear reported usage and the Verizon router reported usage found on the Verizon website.  It is correct that Verizon data may be reported late, but I have never seen a delay of over 24 hours -- 6-12 hours is not unusual.  Any traffic on my internal subnet can not get to the Verizon router unless internet access is required -- then the Netgear router passes the data flow to the Verizon router.  Again, the data counted by Netgear and the Verizon router are a match. 

When I first connected, I actually used the poor Verizon router traffic log to determine throughput (subtract current timestamp data total from a specifi earlier timestamp data total to get usage for that day.  The result was a near match to the Netgear reported throughput.  (A few kbytes of data is insignificant -- your can never really get two devices to agree.  At the MByte level, they agree.) 

So yes, I invested $120 in a good router and I have complete monitoring capability.  And yes, I have always found the Verizon reported data to be completely correct within any given day.  If you are having issues, you need to understand what your devices are doing on your network.  Verizon can only report what data flows through their devices including an LTE router and their data is correct.  Phone to 4G data usage appears to have different issues.  What I have written does not address direct 4G usage.  We ALWAYS route all phone data traffic through our internal network and thence through the 4G LTE router.  That is the only way to verify actual data flow.

One last point.  I personally would not rely on phone data reporting for complete accuracy.  Too much depends on the strength of the phone 4G signal and that varies as you move from place to place.  Or it may be erratic if your home has poor 4G reception.  Also, you should not consider 4G LTE internet service if you do not get a strong signal.  Verizon should not permit it.  An addition problem may well occur if you use one of the Verizon portable 4G LTE routers for internet service and move it to a weak signal location. 

Re: Understanding / Controlling Data Usage esp. w 4G LTE Cellular Router

Mark221
Member

Thanks very much - this helps confirm my assumptions and gives me a great idea for how to get better data - much appreciated.  We do have a good solid 3-4 dot 4G LTE signal - better out in rural NY than here in urban Wilmington DE. 

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