Tips and best practices to maximize cellular data
Cellular WAN connectivity is quickly becoming a business imperative. From workforce mobility and network security to day-one connectivity and “four-nines” failover, more and more organizations are recognizing that cellular connectivity is crucial to doing business.
As the role of cellular connectivity grows in your enterprise, it will become more important to optimize your organization’s cellular data usage. Because NetCloud Manager (NCM), a service in the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform, is engineered specifically to manage converged wired and wireless networks, one of the platform’s strengths is that users can cost-effectively manage cellular data.
Let’s look at how NCM can help you fine-tune your organization’s data usage and save money.
Set up data usage alerts to avoid overages
Utilizing NCM’s data usage rules is the first step in optimizing data usage and reducing costs. NCM allows you to set up usage alerts on each router modem. The alerts can be triggered at any customizable usage threshold (25 percent, 50 percent, etc., as well as 2 GB, 5GB, etc). The usage meter synchs with billing cycles, ensuring the threshold alerts are accurate.
If your organization utilizes pooled data plans, multiple cellular carriers, or dual-modem routers for carrier redundancy, you can see usage for all carriers together in NCM, without having to log in to multiple different carriers’ data monitoring and billing interfaces. This is particularly useful for comparing and contrasting usage to help with choosing the right carriers for the right locations and applications, and can be a valuable source of information when you’re preparing to renegotiate carrier contracts.
When you set up data usage rules and alerts, there are a couple of important tips to keep in mind:
- Be sure to accurately enter your cycle start date for each carrier.
- Set your monthly usage cap a little lower than what is actually allotted by your carrier.
Make proactive adjustments to reduce data consumption
Once an alert is triggered, you can make adjustments to avoid overage fees with one or more of the following steps:
- Modify WAN traffic
- Enable QoS rules
- Switch to a different SIM
- Switch to a different WAN source
- Shut down the Internet connection entirely (We recommend this only as a last resort. Cutting off the Internet connection will prevent NCM from connecting to the router until the date that the next billing cycle is scheduled to start).
One popular function of the NCM QoS rules is to steer critical applications (such as Point-of-Sale) to the cellular connection, while keeping less-critical traffic and/or high-bandwidth applications on the wired network.
It’s also possible to adjust modem throughput to slow data consumption. This can be a useful solution, for example, when wired connectivity goes down at a retail store. If all the traffic that was previously being routed over the wired network is suddenly utilizing the cellular network, a lot of data can get used up quickly.
However, if you set up QoS rules to slow data consumption and block all but the most important traffic, such as POS data, you can keep processing payments and conducting mission-critical activities, while putting less important traffic on the backburner until the wired connection comes back online.
Pool data for large-scale optimization
In many organizations, month-to-month data utilization can vary widely, making it difficult to predict how much cellular data should be allocated to each individual router or location. For many enterprises, it makes more sense to purchase pooled data plans for a group of routers. With NCM, it’s possible to monitor that pooled data usage to understand high-level trends, detect anomalies, and address large-scale issues that might have a bigger overall impact on your data and usage than router-level issues.
Should you need to drill down to see analytics for a specific router, it’s possible to do that even within a pooled data plan.