Controlling Mobile Phone and Tablet Costs

Mobile Data Collection Costs

Mobile data costs will vary significantly from country to country in developing countries. However, if your NGO is introducing a mobile based M&E system using tablets or smart phones you will need to control data costs.

Controlling these costs is essentially about controlling what applications and downloads you allow your extensionists to access alongside what they need for their work. In typical use extensionWorker will use about 10 - 12 Mb of data per week. This is equivalent to a user downloading 2 songs or a fraction of a movie.

For this reason it is important to have an understanding of how your organization will control the costs of using cell phones or tablets.

Typical Data Usage for cell phones or tablets

ActivityData Cost (Mb)
extensionWorker (1 week)10 Mb
1 hour of video500 Mb
1 song5 Mb
1 email sent0.5 Mb
1 Photo Uploaded1 Mb

Android 5.0 'User' Accounts and Cost Control

The latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop and above have, on both tablet and smart phone, user accounts. However, NGOs should be aware that if they procure tablets or smart phones in country there are often issues with the version and upgrade capacity of the devices they buy.

Originally Android user accounts were quite basic and essentially only allowed for switching between work and home with no control of the device. The latest android versions allow for more than this and now User Accounts can be created and managed. Known as Profile accounts they allow for limiting access to apps and services the user can download and use.

Mobile cost control using 'Parental Control'

Because of the limitations on earlier Android account control you may have to turn to an independent application to control your mobile costs.

Because most software is developed for the western market, where data is extremely cheap, such applications are essentially aimed at parents wishing to control their children's cell phone or tablet use.

Such applications, whilst effective, can have child like and therefore patronizing interfaces for development professionals. Of the many available Mobicip is one that provides both the control and an interface suitable for development professionals.


  • If your NGO is introduction mobile data collection technologies you will need to control costs.
  • Controlling costs is about controlling use of non work related applications such as games and music and movie downloads.
  • For the very latest versions of Android this is possible on cell and tablets by creating Profile Accounts.
  • For NGos buying cell or tablets in country there is no guarantee the latest models will have the latest Android version.
  • For this reason it is worth while looking at so called 'Parental' control software.
  • Mobicip is an application that both offers full control and an appropriate user interface.

Android Data Usage

MSSB Consulting

Android will keep a record of what data each application on the device has used.

extensionWorker Weekly Usage

MSSB Consulting

With extensionWorker reporting it is easy to see what each extensionist is using for their work.

Mobicip allows for excellent control.

MSSB Consulting

Not only does Mobicip allow for excellent control of mobile and tablet use it does so through an adult interface suitable for development professionals.