What Is a Metered Network?
By Tobias Geisler Mesevage
Most Americans are accustomed to sharing the cost of their neighbors’ internet, they just don’t know they are doing it. Internet companies set your price for unmetered (AKA unlimited) WiFi based on the highest and lowest data usage for all subscribers and set a price that shares everyone’s internet cost.
A metered network is an internet plan where you pay to use a certain amount of data per month or per day and then pay a fee (usually around $10) for using more than your allotted data. Sometimes there’s an option to throttle –– slow down and limit –– your data instead of charging for more data usage.
While the internet appears to be an invisible magic act, there are physical components that make it work. The more data that internet consumers use through their networks, the more costs of physically maintaining and/or expanding the network. That cost is why internet service providers (ISPs) have begun offering a pay-per-data-usage plan for home and business internet customers, similar to your phone or mobile device data plans.
Learn why a small business would opt for a metered network and how to set up a metered network on Microsoft 10 and other operating systems.
What Are the Benefits of a Metered Network?
The benefits of a metered network are that you get to choose a-la-carte what works for you and your business and pay less for lower data usage. You may consider a metered network for your business if you find you rarely use the internet for these high-data-usage scenarios:
- File uploads and downloads
- Video streaming
- Music streaming
- 10+ internet users at a time
The main benefit of a metered network is that you are only paying for the data you use. You aren’t sharing the cost of everyone’s internet usage with a median internet price.
Of course, there are outliers on both ends of the spectrum, so a metered network could be a worse option if you find you are often using massive amounts of data. Still, it may be comforting to know that a metered network is an option should that situation change.
How Do I Set Up a Metered Network with My Devices?
When you opt for metered internet, it shouldn’t affect your day-to-day internet experience, just the amount of time or high-data usage time you may spend on the internet. Using metered data will, however, change your relationship to your operating systems, like Microsoft 10.
Using a metered network turns back the clock a bit for your operating systems, creating an analog approach to system updates and other important parts of technology maintenance. In Microsoft 10, for instance, you would need to go into network connection settings and choose “Set as a metered connection.”
With a metered connection turned on in Windows 10, you can expect:
- Windows will only download high priority updates
- Offline files may not sync automatically
- Windows store apps may not fully download – they may be paused
While it saves you money, a metered network may cost more in headaches by interrupting important tasks. Choosing between unlimited WiFi and a metered network is a matter of figuring out which types of costs you want to incur.
Is a Metered Network the Right Option for My Business?
Turning our attention to the bigger picture, the question remains: now that you know what a metered network is, should you do it? Some articles pitch a metered network as “conserving data” for a Windows 10 OS. The biggest upside to a metered network, then is still a matter of price-point.
Price is not the only factor in your small business network equation. It’s important to consider what you’re paying for in security or dependability by saving money with a metered network.
Here are some of the possible drawbacks of a metered network:
- It could prevent you from downloading important security updates
- It may result in different file versions because of paused sync from your PC to your cloud drive
- It may slow down your business processes and growth if you choose between doing critical work and paying an overage fee
- It can affect the functioning of apps and platforms that depend on syncing with your system
A metered network will likely decrease your internet bill if you aren’t using very much data. On the other hand, a metered network may cause more trouble than it is worth in cost reduction. When it comes to data usage, you’re typically weighing the options of a dependable and secure network or a more cost-effective internet option. In the long-run, security and efficacy are the basis for scalable SMB networks.