Cost of Internet Browsing on Mobile Phone

Most of the people wonder how websites make money. Do we really pay the websites we visit like or The answer is we do not pay directly to the websites but the websites put advertisements on their web pages and they charge money from the advertisers. So whenever we open a webpage or we click on the ads, advertiser has to pay money to the website. It is called Pay per click. I hope this is well known to us all.
Now let’s talk about some new thing. You must have smartphone and I bet you have internet connectivity also. Have you ever wondered how much you pay just to see the advertisement? Yes! You are paying to the telecom company to visit ads. Let’s study how. I was also wondered for this concept and read an article published on Springer so want to share the findings.


The Costs of Web Advertisements While Mobile Browsing‘ article has been taken from a book on “Information and Communication Technologies” published in Springer. The article discuss about the advertisement shown while browsing internet through mobile. They have also tried to estimate a rough cost of browsing. Now a days smartphone has become very popular. We have witnessed 52.3% growth in 2Q13. In Indian market one can get a smartphone at a lowest price of 3000 INR only, so this enabled customers to have a smartphone. This has also influenced the number of internet users. Currently we have approximately 137 million internet users and it is increasing very rapidly due to availability of low cost smartphone and cheaper internet data package provided by various telecom companies.


The article defined 4 objectives.
1. To measure the amount of traffic taken up by advertisement.
2. To find the variance in data usages per browser and time.
3. To find significance of flash player.
4. To estimate the cost.


To calculation the amount of traffic an AutoBrowser has been setup. It automatically download a web page from internet and calculate the data used. For this they have chosen top 100 web pages which are trending right now over internet. To find the top ranking website, we can’t just go by ranking as they give rank on the basis of annual traffic. So they have chosen where users share their favorite webpages and we can easily find what is trending today and right now over internet. This could change every minute every day.
To find the difference they have used a proxy server separately which blocks advertisement and tried to download the same web page. The difference between the 2 web pages would give the amount of traffic that was being used by advertisement on the webpage.
To address the 2nd objective they used several web browsers which are available for smartphone. They have used Opera and Mozilla Firefox. AutoBrowser auto refresh page every 30 seconds so we could get the traffic intensity over a time span and can calculate the variance.
Browser also provides an option to disable flash. Flash has been used to show animation and video on web page. It is found that an animated advertisement takes much data than a simple image or text. So by enabling flash and disabling we can’t calculate the difference.

Fig 1: Diagram of measurement set-up

The above diagram shows the setup. Proxy server would refine the data and Autobrowse would request web page every 30 seconds.
To calculate the cost we have some rough tariff from telecom companies. Most of the Indian companies charge 10 Kb per 10 paisa. We are considering that there is no extra national roaming charge but international charges are very high. Vodafone charges 5.5 Rs/10 Kb.

Calculation and Findings

After setting up the setup we would get the volume of data usages with advertisement and without advertisement and with flash without flash.
Difference/page = ((Normal Browsing – Ads blocked) * 1024 )/No. of pages loaded

Through the calculation we can find that the difference between normal browsing and with ads blocked is approx. 109.41 KB daily 3282 KB per month. From these numbers we may conclude that web advertisements increase data traffic with 7.3% (Flash disabled) to 9.2% (Flash enabled).

Cost Estimation

To calculate the cost we could multiply the difference with 10 paisa for national usages and with 5.5 INR for international usages. We would find that with flash it could cost 1 INR daily and without flash it is 0.72 INR daily. If we consider international cost it would be 60 INR daily when flash is enabled and 40 INR when flash is disables. So on the daily basis it is huge amount that users that to pay for advertisements.


We can find that we pay a huge amount for unwanted advertisement and rapid increase in mobile browsing motivates companies to put advertisement on the webpage. We can’t block advertisement shown on webpage as mobile browsers do not have that plugins like pc browsers. But in Opera there is an option. While in roaming the data usages charge is very high and surfing internet while outside the country would charge very high. Even if we open Email accounts there are ads or banners which would use data and ultimately users have to bear it.

1. Van den Brande, Jeffrey, and Aiko Pras. “The Costs of Web Advertisements While Mobile Browsing.” Information and Communication Technologies. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2012.
2. Understanding mobile data
3. Airtel Tariff
4. Growth Accelerates in the Worldwide Mobile Phone and Smartphone Markets in the Second Quarter, According to IDC . (2013, Jul 25). Retrieved Feb 10, 2014, from IDC:
5. Internet Usage Stats and Telecommunications Market Report, According to IAMAI

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Deepesh Singh


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