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Metered connection

(also internet metering)

Metered connection definition

A metered connection is a way to measure the amount of internet data used. Internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network operators often use it for billing purposes.

See also: bandwidth meter, monitoring software

Use cases of metered connections

  • Mobile data plans. Many cell phone plans have a set data limit per month and charge extra if a user exceeds it.
  • Home internet. Some home internet plans, especially in areas with limited internet capacity, also measure data use.
  • Satellite internet. Due to the high cost of bandwidth, satellite internet connections are often metered.
  • Travel and roaming. Travelers using their mobile devices abroad may be charged based on data use due to higher international costs.

How metered connection works

  • The ISP or network provider tracks the amount of data sent and received over the network connection. It’s usually done at the provider's end using specialized software.
  • Based on the amount of data used, the user is billed. The billing models vary based on the service provider and the type of service (like mobile data or home internet).
  • Users often receive notifications when they are approaching or have exceeded their data limit. This helps them manage their data usage to avoid extra charges.

Metered connection billing models

  • Pay-as-you-go (PAYG). Users are charged based on the exact amount of data they use. This model is common in mobile data services, where users may pay a set rate per megabyte or gigabyte of data.
  • Capped data plans. These plans offer a fixed amount of data for a set price. If the user goes over this limit, they may need to pay extra or get lower speeds. In some cases, the data service may be suspended until the next billing cycle.
  • Tiered data plans. Similar to capped plans, but with different levels of data for different prices. Users choose a plan based on their usage and may be able to move up or down tiers as needed.
  • Unlimited data with a fair usage policy. A variant of metered billing, these plans offer 'unlimited' data but with a fair usage policy. After a user reaches a certain data threshold, the service provider may reduce the internet speed.