While the world is drastically escalating its dependency on the internet, what people are ignoring are its diverse consequences in terms of finances. Mobile and broadband internet in America is comparatively expensive then nations like the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, and even Canada. But it seems people, under influential advantages of the internet are regularly exploiting usage caps, and it’s important that the exceeding internet penetration in the United States and the ever-growing expenses over it are controlled.
United States and Internet Usage
Though the United States does not have the largest base of internet users (it has the third largest), the presence of internet services in almost every region of the nation makes it the largest in terms of internet service provisions. There are more than 7000 Internet Service providers in the nation, constituting both large corps and small or medium scale providers. As per the stats from World Bank, 78% of US citizens have access to internet services via broadband or mobile internet connections. And that is why the United States is gradually becoming a pool of internet-dependent citizens. The frequency of internet usage has gone up, especially among adults. More than half the total internet users (43%) in the US have constant and continuous connectivity to the internet via their mobile or other devices. A constant connection implies that the mobile data is continuously in use 24/7 for any of the multiple internet-related activities. The number of mobile internet users has also increased from 252 million to 269 million in the last two years, and if stats are considered, this number is likely to grow further in the next five years.
Due to the innovations in mobile technology, people have shifted their focus from home-based internet consumption to mobile internet consumption. And the reason is the smartphone revolution. In 2015, the web traffic originating from mobile devices was merely 26.8% of the complete internet bandwidth available. This has grown to 40.6% by the first quarter of this year. With more than 130 mobile internet subscriptions per 100 US inhabitants, it can be said that mobile internet has become more prevalent in the country.
And the consequences? Expensive Internet, exceeding budget on internet services, and faster internet penetration.
What’s the US paying for these Internet Services?
Though the internet has helped the US citizens and corporations in unlimited areas of personal and professional operations, it has also caused them to be subjected to heavy prices and budgetary concerns in exchange. As per a recent report by Forbes, the United States probably has third-most expensive internet services among the top internet-prevalent nations in the world. For a 1GB fast-speed internet, a normal user is required to pay around $12.3. This twice of what users are paying in the United Kingdom, around five times of what people pay in Australia, and more than ten times what people pay in India and Russia. And this is just the mobile internet. Throw in TV-based streaming and other broadband connections, the package cost goes above $150 on a monthly basis. However, the packages do vary in regions and there are providers with low-to-medium internet speeds that charge much less than the fast-speed internet packages.
But why these Costs go High?
In the United States, a majority of users obtain internet broadband services from their cable service providers. This is because phone-based broadbands can’t compete with cable lines, which provides the fastest internet speed, comparatively much higher than those provided by wireless or satellite connections. Moreover, the freedom of usage caps also makes cable lines the first choice for most Americans seeking stable and fast internet connections. Now add that connection with mobile and other devices, on which users access internet-based applications. Also add the cost of mobile internet offered by telecommunication companies over the overall package purchased by the user. It is likely that the cost of the internet would go up. People have no choice but to pay, and to pay more if they exceed usage cap. America does have 7000 internet service providers, but only a few hold monopolies as they are the only ones capable of offering fast internet. Without competition and oversight over these few monopolists, the cost of internet in the US keeps rising.
Why do Usage Caps fail?
Usage caps are a failed solution. Once a user has accommodated his/her work per the faster internet, he/she would not be able to cope up once the speed goes down after the usage cap is exceeded. Eventually, that particular user would pay extra for the additional fast internet over the ongoing plan. Plus, work in the US has now become very internet-dependent. It’s not just excessive video streaming on Netflix that is eating up your internet. It’s work as well, and it can’t be compensated. Internet commerce, online education, cloud computing practices, internet banking and accounting operations, document creation and sharing, and instant messaging and conversations are few examples of internet-based uses in a professional setting. E-commerce has added millions to the US economy and cloud computing has revolutionized database management in both government and private work facilities. Since none of these things can function without proper internet, the demands of good internet increase above usage caps, which ultimately increase the price.
So, what are the options?
Internet services can’t be subjected to external control. Though, laws allow providers to prioritize internet connections per the user’s need; however, the continuous change in internet usage preferences make this task difficult. Amidst this, such prioritization can cause dysfunctionality in net neutrality, which would counter the prioritization. Thus, the only way that the expenses over the internet can be controlled is by users only. The internet users themselves have to prioritize as to how they need to finish up their usage cap. It’s up to the users to set limits to their internet usage and set a personalized plan to ensure that their internet connection is stably utilized on their daily work-related operations, as well as activities related to social media and online shopping. As much of the excessive internet penetration is caused by mobile internet spent on applications and numerous updates, a user must have an internet usage checker downloaded in the phone.
For that, an application called Check Data Usage is a fine option.
Check Data Usage: Internet Usage Checker and Monitor
It’s a tool designed for Android users, which tracks and monitor your data usage over your internet connection, as well as external Wi-Fi connectivity. It helps you track how much internet you’ve spent on your mobile device and how much internet data you’ve extracted from your broadband connection over Wi-Fi. Using Check Data usage, one can compress his/her internet expenses by ensuring that no excessive data is spent unnecessarily on constant mobile internet connectivity.
With Check Data Usage, you can make your own data plan and set an alert to remind you if you breach that usage mark you’ve set on the application.
You can select the plan limit up to 1GB, and the alert would be set a bit prior to reaching the final limit set. Rather than selecting the activation time plan, you can set a custom time limit by tapping the box (colored in blue) and set a date of your choice.
Once the plan is set, the app would begin to monitor the usage of the internet by all the apps that run on it.
As the app starts monitoring, you get to have a look at your daily usage via the summary that the app provides. To ensure better comprehensibility over the summary of the use of the internet on the devices, there is a graphical representation of the same.
Apart from mobile data, the app also monitors data you use over Wi-Fi broadband. Thus, you can not only track the limit of your internet usage over a cellular network but also on your broadband network. This, in turn, would help you control your internet expenses on both the services.
Given the concerns of net neutrality, it’s impossible for providers to prioritize or limit internet speed. The least they can do is put a usage cap and ask users to pay for additional speed. Of course, blocking the internet over that limit would limit their business profits, so it’s out of the question right there. Limiting exceeding expenses on the internet can only be controlled by the users per their choice and Check Data Usage is a fair option to help them do it. Amidst increased internet prices charged by internet service providers and the monopolists among them, the users are required to take care of their budget and make sure that their internet usage is kept in check by themselves.