How to survive on a small data plan



One of life’s essentials is communication (read, Internet access). A part of our search for autarky is that we finally want to learn how to create our own networks and connect them to the Internet. But before that, it’s relatively simple to reduce monetary needs and dependency on for-profit network operators with techniques that greatly limit data consumption.

About 99% of “consumerist data consumption” is just waste, and a 1 GiB/month mobile data plan can be comfortable and sufficient even for the most data-hungry among us. Here’s how.

This wiki starts as a wild collection of ideas, but will hopefully mature over time. Very welcome to contribute to any degree! If something’s unclear, post a comment below and somebody will care.

1. Knowledge and techniques for low data consumption

  • Use a web compression and simplification proxy.

  • Use a browser that will load only what is visible.

  • Enforce local CSS caching.

  • Selectively enforce browser caching on “back”.

  • Publish images in adequate size and quality.

  • Publish small documents.

  • Use a text-mode browser via SSH.

  • Use mobile-specific website versions.

  • Use server-side e-mail filtering.

  • Use IMAP with on-demand, manual message downloading for e-mails.

  • Use local caching for IMAP.

  • Use an e-mail size reduction software.

  • Use local storage for your music.

  • Watch (or grab) movies from DVDs.

  • Send large volumes of data on SD cards in letters.

  • Use a data upload and download service with a “SD card in letter” interface.

  • Use a download manager that can continue after breakdowns.

  • Use a local backup system.

  • Use local device syncing.

  • Use server-to-server downloads.

  • Accumulate downloads as batch jobs until you have flatrate Internet again.

  • Use per-application data consumption quotas and monitoring.

  • Use daily quotas.

  • Use OpenStreetMap offline maps.

  • Use Wikipedia as an offline database.

  • Let web researchers answer your questions.

  • Develop software locally and sync it with git.

2. Knowledge and techniques for slow and high-latency connections

  • Replace phone calls with PTT (push-to-talk).

  • Use instant messaging instead of voice communication.

  • Use instant photo messaging instead of video calls.

  • Use PTT-style video messaging with high-quality compression codecs instead of video calls.

3. Android software recommendations


4. Linux software recommendations


5. Mobile data plan recommendations


An Autarky System for Households