"Hotspot" usage determination

#1

Background: We have deployed MAX devices based on Verizon and AT&T connections. Verizon (“unlimited”) limits hotspot/tethered (their terms) usage to 15GB/month/device.

I would expect that usage via a cellular router would count either fully as hotspot usage, or not t all.

As it turns out - Verizon counts some data usage as non-hotspot usage, and some as hotspot usage. For a particular subscription the fraction counted as non-hotspot can go as high as 30% or as low as 0% per week.

Question: Does anybody know (or care to speculate) how Verizon decides whether transmissions should count as one or the other?

Further background: The device we have been tracking is a MAX Transit Duo (with one Verizon and one AT&T card) with a PepVPN to the home office (a Balance 380). Only traffic bound for the intranet are routed to the VPN, the rest connects directly with the Internet.

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#2

I have no knowledge of how their counters work, but its interesting to you hear they see some traffic as hotspot usage ans some not, then for you to say some traffic goes via VPN and some not. Is there a correlation? Would the amount they count (or not count) as hotspot usage match the amount of data going over vpn?

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#3

That was our initial conjecture. However, it has not been borne out by the data so far. I’ll run some more systematic experiments once the billing cycle rolls over (Verizon reporting being rather crude and nonspecific).

This is the first billing cycle where Verizon started tallying “hotspot” usage on these accounts, so the oddities may simply reflect startup erratics.

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#4

Here’s the result of two weeks of experience after a billing cycle reset:
Traffic routed to a PepVPN connection does not count as hotspot traffic (at least in our test setup).
Traffic routed to the (naked) cellular WAN does count as hotspot traffic.
FWIW: The PepVPN connection was not encrypted.

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#5

On a related note: US Mobile (recently entering the US market as a Verizon infrastructure MVNO) offers an “unlimited” plan. In our test experience it is not unlimited - their “deprioritization” after 12/14/16 GB usage (depending on the plan) effectively kills the connection (nominally dropping the speed to 256kbps, but in our experience failed to provide IP addresses at that point).

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