12 Replies Latest reply: Oct 3, 2012 6:54 AM by Lawrence Finch
itunes_novice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

I keep seeing large bursts of cellular network data usage based on AT&T usage detail but these data usage bursts are not showing up on the iPhone OS data usage tracker nor on a "DataMan" app I'm using.  Generally, the OS and DataMan track well.


These bursts can happen at night, or during the day. 


I think either AT&T has an issue or my phone or apps "go rogue" and start sending/receiving data without reporting the data flow to the iPhone OS tracker.  Another theory is that the phone starts out using WiFi to complete a large data transfer but then has to switch to cell data to complete without the phone OS tracking accurately.


Anyone else having similar issues??  Appreciate any help / advice / suggestions....

Mac OS X (10.6.4)
  • 1. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    danwallie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have had this same issue since mid-March 2012. I think it started happening after I upgraded to iOS 5.1. I have seen bursts up to 120MB, usually coming in the afternoon around 4-5PM but sometimes at night too. I have installed DataMan and have been monitoring, but DataMan (and the stock iOS usage meter) have been showing me about 10x smaller usage than AT&T's usage reports. I love DataMan's breakout by App, but it's useless if I'm only catching 10% of the traffic. I do wonder if iOS 5.1 has a bug in the usage tracking combined with some other change in the OS that's creating a whole lot more traffic than before. I have narrowed things down quite a bit for myself by doing a factory reset and installing only Gmail (Exchange Activesync) and turning off everything iCloud does except Find My Phone, in addition to turning off all the other usual suspects (notifications, location services, diagnostic reports, etc.) Today I took the extra step of removing the iCloud account completely. I will see if that nips it and report back tomorrow.

  • 2. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    itunes_novice Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Well, no satisfaction from AT&T.  They stand behind their data tracking only and cannot validate or verify or explain why my iphone iOS data tracking is reporting so much less data usage.  After nearly two weeks of turning cell data on only when I absolutely need it and then immediately back off again, I think I have rescued myself from paying a data overage this month.  I've turned on Cell Data again and will be pinging AT&T a couple times a day to see if I see the discrepancy again....

  • 3. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    danwallie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I had to be very persistent and press AT&T to escalate my case to the ICU. They finally did and the results were interesting. Their monitored usage of my IMEI matched very closely to DataMan reports I sent them. Strangely the extra usage showing up on my bill did not square with their own usage logs! The CSR has tried several times to dismiss this as a temporary artifact of their billing system that I should rest assured that the charges won't appear on my final bill. There are two problems with that excuse: 1) these strange charges did appear on my March and April bills, and 2) AT&T urges me to upgrade my data plan as soon as I exceed thresholds. Scaring customers into upping their plans based on false usage is a lawsuit waiting to happen. I hope that the CSR was just mistaken about this.


    Another interesting development: during the course of discussions with AT&T I agreed to let them upgrade my plan to a 3GB plan on the condition that I could revert back to the 200MB plan later when this issue is resolved. While my plan was rocking 3GB, the usage on my AT&T accound suddenly started matching my DataMan stats! So after 3 days of this I spoke with my ICU rep again and asked to revert back to the 200MB plan (no need to throw $15 a month away). Since the reversion my account has not updated with any internet usage, so I won't know if the problem is happening again until June 8. I will update then.

  • 4. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    asfdj Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    It's beyond frustrating that you have to wait 48 hours for numbers to post at AT&T before you know if anything they, or you, did made a difference.


    Made a new discovery this weekend, based on numbers that posted today. Away from my Microcell on a 520 mile round trip with the family, data usage was normal except when we passed through one town. That pass-through lasted about 10 minutes, The driver, who was obviously not on their 4S, suddenly logged 120MB of usage timestamped at the exact time we were travelling through the town. All other iPhones also registered a sudden hit in data usage.


    This to me points towards an incompatibility with some AT&T equipment, or billing collection software, and iOS 5.1 - If you happen to live near a misbehaving tower, you're screwed.


    I'm going to fire off my findings to my AT&T ICU rep today. Might also point her at this thread. AT&T really needs to get together with Apple and work to replicate this problem. If only they would just assign this to one person, so that single person can gather facts from all of us - it might help get it resolved.


    I don't buy the "It's your phone" line because it's clearly location-specific in my case. It's quite possible if either of you spent a day or two in another city, you may very well see your data usage return to normal as well.

  • 5. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    danwallie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    That's very interesting. I think you're onto something. My experience reflects that too, that the big hits seem to come whenever you connect to a different tower. It may be that just triggers a data session to close out, which would mean that your bloated usage was being collected BEFORE you came to that town.


    Anyway, would you mind posting what data plan(s) your family has?

  • 6. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    asfdj Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    06/0312:52 PMphoneInternet/MEdia NetSent117203KB
    06/0312:30 PMphoneInternet/MEdia NetSent120KB

    That's the big hit, 22 minutes after the last report, from the driver's line. Ouch.


    Problem: iPhone 4S, grandfathered unlimited data

    Problem: iPhone 4S, grandfathered unlimited data

    No Problem: iPhone 4, grandfathered unlimited data

    No Problem: iPhone 4, 2GB data plan


    All lines are on Family 700 with unlimited messaging. We have a 5th line which is a dumbphone - no data.


    Although on unlimited data, the 4S units historically use about 200-250 MB/Month.


    Lately, they're often on track to exceed 3GB/mo, which puts them in "throttled" territory. At least in my case, I can control this data usage by simply unplugging my Microcell. If I lived near a tower that was doing this, I'd be screwed. You both have my sympathies. I did send a follow up report to AT&T this morning. Hopefully they will do something with it. Like you, the iOS data usage numbers on the phones don't show anything like the large numbers AT&T reports.

  • 7. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    Lawrence Finch Level 7 Level 7 (25,930 points)

    As has been discussed in many other threads, the single line item on the bill is a summary of data usage over a previous period. The summary is only posted to the billing system when you leave the coverage area of a mobile switching office. When you drove through that town you probably entered the area of a different MTSO, so the one you were leaving sent your accumulated usage to the billing system. The time stamps on your bill or in the online listing are meaningless. All you know is that usage was from a period of time ENDING with the timestamp on the bill. If you have a timestamp in the middle of the night that is the accumulated usage in your current MTSO at the time that switch reports "open" usage summaries to the billing system.


    To determine the actual time of data usage you need DataMan or a similar app. The only way to identify a REAL problem is if the usage you are billed for is significantly different from what the iPhone itself shows in the Usage counter (or in a data tracking app). If the iPhone's usage matches AT&T's you really used that much data. And to do this accurately you need to reset the usage counter at the start of your billing period.


    BTW, I have never seen a 48 hour delay, even when roaming in China. My data usage is reported and shows up online within hours of the actual usage.

  • 8. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    asfdj Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    Thanks Lawrence - but everyone in this thread is reporting that the DataMan/iOS numbers are much lower than the carrier numbers. That's the topic of conversation.


    In my case, iOS reports about 600MB in the past 90 days, and AT&T reports closer to 6GB. That's a 10x discrepancy.


    AT&T has already acknowledged an issue. They just haven't made much progress on a resolution yet.

  • 9. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    asfdj Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)

    Received a response from AT&T this morning declaring my case closed (again) and that their systems are working normally. Explanation:


    "When on the Microcell device your data service works about 5 x’s faster, thus causing the increase in data usage."


    So if I understand that statement correctly - if I pour a cup of water down a 2 inch pipe, a cup of water comes out the other end. If I pour that same cup of water down a 6 inch pipe, a gallon comes out the other end? That's amazing. Totally wrong... but amazing.


    My point is, if you request 200 Kb of data it might get to you in less time on a faster link, but it's still 200 Kb of data. It doesn't magically become 2MB.  No wonder they can't resolve it. They don't understand networks. Either that, or they're relying on a lack of knowledge on the customer side to shut the customer up and make a problem go away.


    Either way, I feel cheated. I spent many hours researching this, provided them with tons of evidence of the real data being used (including router stats), and the company I send over $3,000 to each year for service has resorted to sending back false statements to justify their false numbers. Wow.


    I've managed to stump 250,000 employees at AT&T. I think I deserve the rest of the day off.



  • 10. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    gmadera Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I've had this happen once.  Driving up from LA to Mammoth for a skiing weekend, a 5 hour drive.  I really didn't do much with the phone other than checking weather conditions.  About 4 hours into the drive, I get a text that I'm 65% used up on my data plan.  30 seconds later get another text that I'm over my plan.  I checked the usage counter on the iPhone, it said I was only at 80 MB out of my 200 MB plan.  Used the text function, it tells me I was at 700 MB, checked it again 2 minutes later, it tells me I was over 1GB.  This continued for 3 more hours even after we got to Mammoth, I called AT&T, they blamed the weather app, which I had closed, and could not tell me anything else due to "privacy" act.  They upgraded me to the 2GB plan with the promise I can switch back at first, but later gave me credit for the $10 difference because the phone was still racking up data even though I had ALL apps closed.  It never occured to me that it could be a misbehaving cell tower.  Wonder how many people have fallen victim to this type of situations. 

  • 11. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    gmadera Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    BTW, I've noticed that the text coming back from AT&T telling you your data usage could lag by a few hours.  So it's not reliable.  Best bet is to use the feature on the phone or get one of the many free apps.  Though AT&T will still bill you for what they have on record...

  • 12. Re: data usage - AT&T and iPhone Don't Match!
    Lawrence Finch Level 7 Level 7 (25,930 points)

    There's a lag because you don't get the alert or the data listed on AT&T's web site until the switch reports the usage to the billing system, which can take up to 24 hours (but is usually less).