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Topic # 22882 11-Jun-2008 10:37
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I access the Internet using a Sierra Wireless datacard.  I’ve been on Telecom’s ‘Mobile Broadband 200+’ plan for about a year.  My monthly usage is less than 200 MB, so I pay a flat $29-95 + GST each month. But my account for April-May showed ‘calls after savings’ of $284-70.  When I queried the account Telecom claimed I had used 885 MB in the month, but offered me a $250 ‘one-off goodwill credit’.  That still leaves me $34-70 out of pocket so I kept asking questions.  Telecom have now sent me a ‘call detail advice’ according to which I used 737 MB on just one day, 25 April. The datacard always claims to connect at 115.2 Kbps.  On Anzac Day I was at Matapouri Bay on the Tutukaka Coast, where coverage is flaky and I’m sure my connection speed is nothing like 115.2 Kbps.  But even if I did get that speed it would take over 14 hours to download 737 MB.  I think I might have noticed. Can anyone explain how I could have incurred this charge?

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  Reply # 137674 12-Jun-2008 18:03
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Sounds like it may be a miscalculation on telecoms behalf - I use a vodem and like most people, i switch it off when im not using it to save data.

If however, you did leave it connected and the data was transfered, it could be spyware or possibly a p2p program or downloading program such as bit torrent, limewire or itunes. Windows updates could also have taken place.

Just today i had a client who was going through 80gb+ worth of traffic for the last 3 months on their 30gb cap plan. Turned out he had an email stuck in his outbox that was 25mb in size and was getting rejected by the xtra server because it was corrupt or outlook was unable to complete the send. Outlook still saw it in the outbox and kept trying to send it and has been doing so every few mins for the last 3 months.

Another thing you may want to watch is your datacard software. I think you may have a program called sierra wireless that connects the datacard to the internet. This should give you a total of how much you have used in the session since connecting. Always look at this when disconnecting to make sure you know if you use a large amount

As i said if you are in a flaky coverage area it was probably running rather slow and i doubt you could have transfered that much so its probably an accounting error.




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here






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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 137784 13-Jun-2008 11:14
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Thanks Ray.

 

I have occasionally left the datacard connected overnight.  I’ll stop doing that. 

My firewall should have rejected any spyware.  I’m not running any p2p programs, bit torrent, limeware or itunes.  I checked for Windows updates but there were none on that date.

 

Yes, my datacard software is called Sierra Wireless Watcher.  I’ll make a habit of checking the session stats before disconnecting.

 

The Watcher has a cumulative usage counter, according to which I’ve received and transmitted a total of 1854 MB since I last reset it.  That would have been about 12 months ago.  So if I did receive 737 MB as Telecom claim, I received 40% of a whole year’s traffic in just one day.

 

My theory is that Telecom’s usage tracking software had conniptions on Anzac Day, and they’re just keeping their heads down and hoping no-one will notice.

Thanks again for your comments.


 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 137806 13-Jun-2008 12:59
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Phil49: My firewall should have rejected any spyware.

What firewall do you use? If your firewall protects against outgoing traffic but allows say, port 80 for web browsing, then a peice of spyware sending data on port 80 could do so unimpeded.

Firewalls that block at the application level often annoy the heck out the user by asking "is this ok?" all the time, and people get conditioned to click yes, yes, yes. I peice of spyware could have presented a reasonable looking name (e.g. WinSecureUpdate or something similar).

I checked for Windows updates but there were none on that date. 

You pretty much need to check every peice of software running on your system (including applications that do not appear to be running, but which have 'helper' programs to speed launch, and check for updates, or phone home with usage statistics (or worse).

The Watcher has a cumulative usage counter, according to which I’ve received and transmitted a total of 1854 MB since I last reset it.  That would have been about 12 months ago.  So if I did receive 737 MB as Telecom claim, I received 40% of a whole year’s traffic in just one day.

Watcher measures traffic through the card, not through the cell tower or Telecoms servers. Telecom bills what their server sends you IIRC. Watcher can be an okay indicator, but not totally reliable.

My theory is that Telecom’s usage tracking software had conniptions on Anzac Day, and they’re just keeping their heads down and hoping no-one will notice.

Telecom has been quite good at recognising billing errors on large scales lately, and proactively putting them right.

Cheers,
Tony





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  Reply # 137814 13-Jun-2008 13:29
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Hello,
I know that this is 'after the fact' but for future reference:

One thing to consider is that even though windows reports a port speed of 115kbps, it almost certainly faster unless you are in 1X coverage. EVDO Rev 0and EVDO Rev A are well and truely capable of delivering speeds higher than that.

I use mobile data daily and my advice is:
  • You should have a firewall at all times, the internet is a dangerous place and unprotected computers are open to being exploited.This applies to DSL, Dial up, wireless etc. Antivirus is strongly recommended too.
  • Usage alerts (you get them free of charge from Telecom) are great as they'll let you know where you are at.
  • Get a local traffic monitoring application so you have a good idea of how much data you are using.
  • Strictly control peer to peer apps. Disable automatic start up, automatic sharing. Make sure you don't leave them running, as people can and will download files from other nodes (including your computer) and this can cost a lot in data charges.
  • Moderate streaming video usage. 200mb+ and 1GB+ are usually enough for watching videos, but if you watch a lot... you may wish to look at the 1GB option.
As previously pointed out, always a good idea to disconnect if the device isn't in use, this ensures you reduce your exposure to the internet so data cannot be used in that period.






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  Reply # 138134 15-Jun-2008 11:02
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Thanks Tony and cokemaster. 

I’m using Sygate Personal Firewall 5.6.  Sygate blocks at the application level and I’m careful about what applications I grant access to. 
 

‘Show updates’ under ‘Add or remove programs’ doesn’t show anything installed on April 25.
 

I’m running EVDO Hardware Version MC5725 Rev 2.0. 

You’re certainly right about the speed, cokemaster.  I’m now in Kerikeri and according to
http://www.consumerspeedtest.org.nz/speedtest.php was getting a download speed of 618 kbps on Friday and 1106 kbps today (Sunday).  I’ll be interested to see what speed I’m really getting next time I’m at Matapouri Bay.
 

I’m running AVG Anti-Virus Free 8.0.100.
 

I have usage alerts set up at 20% and (from memory) 90% of my 200 MB plan allowance.  On the day in question Telecom sent me two email alerts.  The first advised that:
as at 25/04/2008 21:50:53 your mobile device has exceeded your nominated 190% and the second that:as at 25/04/2008 21:50:53 your mobile device has exceeded your nominated 170%. 

Can you tell me more about local traffic monitoring applications?
 

I’m not running any peer to peer apps and I don’t access streaming video.

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  Reply # 138638 17-Jun-2008 09:53
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Here is my 2 cents worth, something I put on another thread of similar topic about Sierra datacards:

"I haven't found it to use much data while "idle", but at my average download speed I get up to a megabyte every 8 seconds, so if set hardout downloading it would only take 2 1/4 hours to chow down the first 1GB, then another 2 1/4 hours to do the next 1GB, then if still left hardout downloading, it is going to cost 50c per each 8 seconds!!!! Oh and thats not including the upload data being sent either!

msn webcam chows down on data, like 4mb in a matter of a minute or two.

It appears the data that the sierra wireless device watcher shows is (all) the data being used, eg I have written down my data downloaded/uploaded in a notebook for each session before I disconnect, and after 20 days I summed it all up and called Telecom and asked them my data usage, and the two figures were only a matter of megabytes out."

HOWEVER.... then I started this thread....

"Alarming random data use?

I have mobile broadband 1GB plan, as its my only other internet choice other than dial up where I live.
I love it and am really happy with it, but recently there has been something strange going on....

Either after I connect, or randomly while I am connected, i see the Sierra wireless watch cranking through the download for no apparent reason. Eg I will be reading emails or reading a webpage like this, and not downloading anything, yet the computer is going hard out downloading something. Automatic updates are on my command only, so is everything else like that on my computer.

Now some may say a virus or spyware, I could just add that I've never had them, maybe due to the fact I never download anything, and only go to a select few websites. I dont swap files with anyone or play online games."

Well I never worked out why it was doing this, but the computer having the issues ran XP. It was doing this in fully updated state, and drove me so nuts I formatted the hard drive and started again. I installed XP and the Sierra watcher, and connected to net as normal. But as soon as I installed Windows Live Messaging the crazy download data use would start. It wasn't trying to do or download anything, as I left it to its own devices and it used over 100MB of data to do nothing. Consequently I sold that PC as even the computer shop I took it to had no clue about what was going on.

But with my Vista laptop it is now very stable, apart from the occasional idiosyncrasy.  

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  Reply # 139272 19-Jun-2008 23:16
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msn webcam chows down on data, like 4mb in a matter of a minute or two.
  




Ray Taylor
Taylor Broadband (rural hawkes bay)
www.ruralkiwi.com

There is no place like localhost
For my general guide to extending your wireless network Click Here






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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 148528 16-Jul-2008 15:29
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I’ve made a couple of fresh observations, either of which could explain why my datacard sent and received a total of 737 MB of data on April 25:
1.   The default setting for Windows Automatic Updates was to automatically download recommended updates at 3:00 a.m.
      every day.  So perhaps I left the laptop connected overnight on April 25, and at 3:00 a.m. the automatic update process
      was triggered for the very first time and tried to download a year’s worth of updates.  

      I’ve now configured Automatic Updates to notify me but not automatically download updates.  I’ve also ordered XP SP3 on a
      CD (I’m currently running SP2).

2.   Recently I noticed that the application ‘Generic Host Process for Win32 services’ (svchost.exe) had sent and received tens of
      MB via the datacard in a matter of minutes.  So perhaps svchost was the culprit.
  
      I’ve now blocked svchost from accessing the Internet.  I find that if I temporarily remove the block the program again starts
      sending and receiving large quantities of data.


Can someone please tell me:
1.   Why svchost should need to send and receive large quantities of data?
2.   What will be the consequences of blocking svchost from accessing the Internet?
3.   I’ve also blocked SQL Browser Service EXE (sqlbrowser.exe) and LSA Shell (Export Version) (lsass.exe) from accessing the
      Internet.  What will be the consequences of those blocks?


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  Reply # 148549 16-Jul-2008 16:25
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You normally get the first 200MB of overage for only $11.25 total.

Overage over and above that cost the standard $0.57 per MB

Looks like you not only got the first 200MB of overage cheap(as per the ts and cs), but your $250 goodwill discount was on top of that.

Lucky you  :)

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  Reply # 149787 21-Jul-2008 09:56
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Phil49:

2.   Recently I noticed that the application ‘Generic Host Process for Win32 services’ (svchost.exe) had sent and received tens of
      MB via the datacard in a matter of minutes.  So perhaps svchost was the culprit.
  
      I’ve now blocked svchost from accessing the Internet.  I find that if I temporarily remove the block the program again starts
      sending and receiving large quantities of data.




Perhaps that was my problem with my Windows XP SP2 laptop? I didn't have the technical knowledge to sort it out, but it would download tens of MB of data in minutes for seemingly no reason with a fresh install of XP, and I never conclusively worked out what was to blame exactly. I thought it may have been Windows live doing something dodgy by itself, but could have been XP.

Who knows, but my laptop with Vista seems totally stable with the Sierra 595U now, and for a year now the watcher data log has consistently reported about 5% above "actual" usage, so no problems with that either.

And one thing I didn't say, but would be good for you to know seen you are on a 200MB plan AND use AVG 8...

With AVG8 and the linkscanner feature active (as per standard AVG 8 install) here is what I found, and you will want to do something about this i suspect if you regularly do google searches ...

I turned it off as I am on mobile broadband with 1GB monthly quota, and without it on a simple google search uses around 10 - 20 KB to return the usual 10 results, BUT with linkscanner on the same search takes around 800KB!! This must be due to the scanning the webpages for nasties. I think that feature is good - but not on a limited data plan!




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  Reply # 149815 21-Jul-2008 11:30
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Thanks Comradehunt.

I disabled LinkScanner as soon as I read your post!

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