How to minimize mobile and satellite network bandwidth consumption

In a separate KB article, I am providing basic instructions on how to connect to the Internet by using an LTE modem and router appliance. When utilizing mobile data connections based on 4G (LTE) and 5G protocols as well as satellite-based communications, it is imperative to minimize any unneeded traffic and achieve an overall optimization in your mobile or satellite data monthly charges. These connections are also known as metered connections with a major concern for data usage minimization.

Case

You have an Internet connection with data caps and pay as you go subscription. You need to minimize bandwidth consumption. This can apply to any mobile data connection (based on 4G or 5G protocols) and to any satellite-based Internet Service Provider (ISP).

Solution

Follow the steps below to minimize the bandwidth consumption via your mobile or satellite Internet connection.

  • Configure your network connection as a metered connection, in order to impose bandwidth limit and better track network traffic usage. Details on how to setup your network connection as metered connection in Windows and Linux can be found in the following articles:
  • Lock-down all Internet resources and use a whitelist logic to only allow access from your local endpoint to the remote endpoints which are absolutely required for your work. There are some operating system related endpoints (such as Microsoft endpoints in the case of Windows operating system, as well as application specific endpoints which must be allowed for ingress or egress connections in order for basic functionality to be provided smoothly. Access to anything which is not absolutely required must be prohibited. You can use a home firewall such as PfSense to apply all network policies.
  • Make use of a remote access computer and use that computer as the jump server for accessing all other Internet resources. This way you will not be charged for any Internet traffic from your local machine but only for the traffic corresponding to the remote access protocol you are using, such as RDP or SSH. Additional bandwidth will be consumed by your VPN connection to the remote access endpoint, if any. In the case of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) Microsoft provides a handy RDP bandwidth guide which can be used as reference when calculated ballpark figures of bandwidth consumption.
  • In a similar fashion as in the previous tips, do not have any applications running on your local machine which could be consuming any Internet bandwidth. Any apps you need for your work must be installed on a remote access jump server and executed remotely. The only exception to this may be any unified communications and VoIP applications which may be required to be installed on your local endpoint to avoid the high latency incurred due to VPN usage or other WAN line related root cause.
  • In constrained networks with limited data usage, you should consider setting up a network throttling policy as part of your Quality of Service (QoS) design. One such example is to implement throttle rate limiting in your Remote Desktop Server (RDS) session host servers by using Group Policy.
  • Install and configure a proxy server for all services and protocols you intend to use from your internal network (for example HTTP/HTTPS, SSH, FTPS, etc). This can serve as a useful security and Web cache tool to save significant numbers of HTTP(S) traffic. One great free example is the Squid proxy for Linux: http://www.squid-cache.org/.
  • If you are running Azure Virtual Desktop, you should also make use of the Azure Virtual Desktop Experience Estimator, which is an online tool which provides connection round trip time (RTT) from your current location, through the Azure Virtual Desktop service, to each Azure region in which you can deploy virtual machines.
  • Refer to the following article which provides a good analysis of the bandwidth costs involved when using a satellite Internet connection as well as tips on how to minimize bandwidth and cut down on satellite data bill charges: https://bulger.co.uk/satellitecost.htm.

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