One of the best features of my iPhone 4 and my recently retired Blackberry Curve 8330 is the ability to use the smartphone as an internet source (e.g like a router) for a device such as a laptop. Now that I use the iPhone 4 exclusively — as a wi-fi personal hotspot — I needed a way to be able to track my bandwidth.
With the Blackberry I was tethering via a cable and using the Verizon Wireless windows application. So while I hated that the connection would drop if the guy on the train next to me sneezed, at least the VZW application tracked your bandwidth usage pretty accurately.
The problem that I have with the iPhone 4 is that I’ve found the iPhone’s bandwidth tracking logs to be inaccurate. Combine that with the fact that with the Curve I had 5GB of bandwidth for $30, and now with the iPhone 4 I’ve got 2GB for $20, there’s now a real need to accurately track usage.
Now you can call your carrier or have them send you a text to check your bandwidth usage, but sometimes it can be a little too late. I recently signed up for a lynda.com trial membership and I wanted to watch one of the tutorial videos on the road. But it crossed my mind that streaming video may eat a ton of bandwidth — and I didn’t want to find out that I had blown the lid off my 2GB limit after the fact.
So I came across a small but useful and powerful open-source application called BitMeter (here’s a link to the CNET download page for the product, but the product page itself may have a newer version). Basically BitMeter is a small and lightweight application that tracks your incoming and outgoing bandwidth. I downloaded the program and was up and running in under a minute.
Now to test the bandwidth usage of a lynda.com video, I simply started BitMeter and then started watching a tutorial. Well needless to say BitMeter spiked and I was able to watch BitMeter’s graph as well as its text readout which made it pretty clear to me that if I wanted to watch lynda.com videos on my laptop, I’d better not do it via my iPhone as a modem.
And while I’m disappointed about how much bandwidth lynda.com uses (though I do really like their service), I’m quite happy that BitMeter let me know this ahead of time, as oppsed to getting a bill from Verizon with some extra zeros in it.
So if you want to track bandwidth usage for your iPhone personal hotspot — or any device being used as a hotspot, check out BitMeter. It’s free and could save you a ton of money — it did for me!