How to Restrict Data Usage on Android Devices?

The proliferation of high-speed mobile data connections and the ever-increasing reliance on mobile devices at work has increased mobile data usage. While using Android devices at work has undoubtedly proven to be a productivity driver, the costs associated with mobile data are rising. Unmanaged (or improperly managed) smartphones and tablets leave organizations with spiraling costs and staggering phone bills.

At first, organizations looking to control costs may return to telecom carriers to negotiate a new deal with a higher data allocation. This, at best, is a quick fix, as employees increasingly use corporate-owned devices for personal use. When the organization is paying for the data plan, it should be able to monitor and track current data usage. Without knowing what websites and apps employees are using, it is difficult to determine if the cost is justified.

Mobile device management (MDM) is an efficient solution to track and manage mobile data usage on Android smartphones and tablets. With MDM, administrators can separately view mobile data, Wi-Fi data, and total data usage of every tablet and smartphone and data consumption of websites and apps installed on devices. This article explores the role of MDM in managing data usage in Android devices.

Restrict Mobile Data Usage on Apps

The best way to restrict data usage is by creating a policy that allows access to only work-related apps and websites. An MDM solution with mobile application management capability can realize such a policy. IT admins can make an application whitelist—a directory of applications approved for Android smartphones and tablets.

App whitelisting allows businesses to choose which apps and features are available for users, minimizing data consumption by non-work-related apps. Besides reducing data consumption, preventing users from installing unapproved apps protects devices from malware or other potential risks.

Disable Mobile Hotspot Feature

Mobile Hotspot is a feature on Android devices that allows users to share cellular data with other nearby devices. Although it is useful for sharing an internet connection, a mobile hotspot can consume a lot of data. 

For example, after a device is connected, users can take advantage of the borrowed internet connection to update their apps, search websites, or live stream videos on their preferred social media platform. IT admins can disable or minimize the number of devices that connect to the Android device hotspot.

Web Content Filtering

Some websites consume a lot more data than other websites. Some websites automatically play audio and videos when users visit. Browsing such websites increases data usage significantly. Organizations can control usage by limiting websites that employees visit. 

Web content filtering with an MDM solution allows organizations to blocklist or allowlist URLs. Only URLs included in the approved list are accessible from the device browser while blocking all other web pages. The vice versa is true for blocklisting URLs. 

Other than restricting websites, web content filtering also provides the ability to restrict harmful content. MDM automatically blocks website URLs containing malicious content, regardless of whether they are added to the allowed or blocked list of applications.

Check Daily Usage & Send Alerts

To ensure organizations are always aware and in control of their data consumption, they can implement app-level configurations to track and monitor per-app mobile data consumption. Monitoring all apps for Android devices helps IT understand how employees use them. Daily usage reports provide clarity on data consumption during a specific billing period for all managed devices, so there are no surprises during the next billing cycle.

Device management solutions allow for setting data usage warning alerts. IT admins can set and send customized data usage alerts on company-owned devices. Alerts allow employees to keep a tab on their data consumption, encouraging them to use data frugally before the next data usage cycle. Some tools can block users outright once a specific data usage threshold is exceeded.

Wrapping Up

The role of implementing a device management solution is to balance the cost of productivity with the cost of data overuse or wastage. IT admins gain insight into where data is consumed to implement appropriate control measures without affecting employee productivity. For instance, setting automatic Wi-Fi configuration will help mobile devices switch from cellular to Wi-Fi connection while in corporate locations. A simple change can make a vast difference in data usage.

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