Your experience with low volume data plans mirrors ours. When we purchased an iPhone 4S for our son (with an AT&T service contract), I picked the 200Mb data plan -- and discussed the limits with our son. "No movies, no online gaming on your iPhone", etc. After the first round of "mystery" data charges (while our son was in the hospital, and phone was not being used), I also installed Dataman Pro, to create an independent log of data usage.
After the second round of "mystery" data charges (and another refund from AT&T), I upgraded our plan to 3Gb. Some of the people on this forum mentioned that their problems vanished after they upgraded, so I figured another $15 / month was cheaper than monitoring data logs and wrestling with AT&T.
I will let everyone on thei forum know what we find with the 3Gb plan. Hopfully the "mystery" data charges will disappear.
Dear Scot: I agree with your concern -- an upgrade to the 3Gb data plan should not be required, to eliminate all of the problems with mysterious data charges from AT&T. That said, I am tired of tracking data logs and arguing for refunds. Maybe the 3gb data plan is a work-around for apparent bugs in AT&T's billing system, as some of the people on this forum have suggested.
I decided to find out. Datanan Pro (the original version) is still installed on my son's iPhone 4S, and I will track the data logs against AT&T for a few months -- to see if the problems go away. Paying $15 more each month to AT&T is definitely not the best solution, but I will let everyone know if it works.
I have a Samsung Stratosphere with Verizon, by the way, and have never had a problem with mysterious data charges. (I do not work in the telco industry, and have no connection to any of the vendors -- except as a customer.)
Based on your posts, do you work in the telco industry? One of the posts appears to include this address: LarryFinch@worldnet.att.net
I am a consultant, and some of my work has been in the teleco industry, but I do not work for AT&T. I DID work on implementing billing systems for several telcos, including AT&T, Cable & Wireless, BellAtlantic and a few others. I also designed the premium corporate calling card system for AT&T in the early 1990's.
That address goes back many years, to a time when AT&T was my ISP. It is simply a user's address and is no longer valid.
Check the Verizon support site, and the posts on Apple's website related to Verizon. There are some compalints about data usage, but nothing like the volume linked to AT&T. This forum is a good example.
Keep in mind that probably 90%+ of all iPhone users in the US are on AT&T, as it was the only carrier until the iPhone 4 came out, and even then Verizon did not get as much market penetration into the iPhone as they expected. And also that Verizon's data plans include more data for the same price than AT&T's.
Based on your experience with ATT's billing system, do you have any insights into the anomalies I and other users have found with three key problems?
(1) Accurate ATT billing for calls and messages - but 'black box' bills for internet data: ATT provides detailed billing for every individual call and text message, with the date, time and duration of the call, or size of the text message. Over 2,000 of my son's text messages, for example, were individually logged one month.
For other internet data transactions, however, ATT's bills are a 'black box' that is very difficult to analyze and impossible for the customer to audit. Calls, text messages and internat data all flow through the same ATT cell towers and network, so why are the bulk of user data charges treated differently? Why are some internet data transactions 'rolled up' -- destroying the detailed billing data that is provided for calls and text messages?
(2) ATT data 'rollups' that don't make sense: Why are some data charges 'rolled up' but others are not? For example:
04/30 11:55 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 24,029 KB 04/30 05:55 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 602 KB
If all of the data transactions on April 30th were "rolled up" into the large 24 meg charge posted at midnight, why is the small transaction shown at 5:55pm? There are many similar examples in our bill.
(3) Phantom data charges: After our son got his iPhone 4S, big 'data overage' bills began to arrive from ATT. I asked him if he had been watching You Tube on his iPhone, downloading movies, etc. I told him to avoid all video, whether there were links in emails from his friends, on Facebook etc. He swore that he would, but the ATT bills kept coming.
Then he was admitted to the hospital and his iPhone sat for weeks -- unused and powered down, with no charge. When the next bill arrived, that's when I knew there was a basic problem with ATT's billing system. Hundreds of megabytes, charged to an iPhone that was not operational. These bills were inaccurate, pure and simple.
ATT acknowledged the problem, and refunded all of the charges. This begs the question, however, why were we billed for usage that clearly did not occur? As I told the ATT manager, "Can ATT guarantee that this won't happen again?" (The problem did occur again, on a smaller scale, when he went to camp this summer.)
Do you have any idea how 'phantom' data usage could get charged to someone's account, when it did not occur?
Thanks for your help,
I can answer some, but not all, of your questions.
Regarding "black box", I was an original iPhone user. My first bill listed every data transaction. The bill was 50 pages long. There were reports from people who had bills of hundreds of pages. After a few months of mailing large manila envelopes containing bills, AT&T started using roll-ups.
Regarding multiple summary entries, each MTSO (cellular switch) records usage through that switch. When you move to a different switch (not tower; each switch manages many towers) the switch you just left closes out its "tab" for your account, sums the data usage while on that switch, and sends it to the billing system. So if you are mobile (as you are likely to be with a mobile phone) there will be several rollups, one for each time interval you were connected to one switch. When your phone is stationary overnight and you don't move to a new switch the last switch you were connected to closes out the account at a specified time, and that rollup will appear around 3 AM EST. The problem now is that with so many smartphones the sheer volume of individual data records would overwhelm any carrier's internal network, so most carriers have gone to summarizing at the switch.
As far as phantom data entries, this is a real issue and I don't have an answer. You have an extreme case, but anyone whose data usage as recorded on the phone does not match the amount billed (other than a small discrepancy, because data is billed in 1K increments, so a 900 byte message will still be billed as 1K) has a valid reason to complain. It's either an error in the data accumulation process, or possibly 3rd party fraud. It is possible to hack some devices to "lie" about their identification; if someone hacked their device to impersonate your son's IMEI then you would be charged for the useage. I don't know if this is common or if it is the cause, but it's the only answer I can think of beyond just a bug in AT&T's recording process.
I'd like ti share that even in Italy we have the same issue (at least with my operator called "3").
I've 2 Iphone 4 with 2gb traffic/month with same apps, just different email (my wife phone has 7 different work emails, mine just two). The issue is on my wife work from last month, jumping from 1.2 average Gb monthly traffic to 5 Gb in July). Fortunly each GB is billed just 7 $, but this still makes me go crazy... It's always sent traffic
(as u can see 600 Mb in 18 hours the last one).
n*** Internet Rete 3 H3G Italy Internet Rete 3 5h:59m:57s 219.3 MB 0.00 0.00 30/08/2012
n*** Internet Rete 3 H3G Italy Internet Rete 3 5h:59m:57s 212.9 MB 0.00 0.00 30/08/2012
n*** Internet Rete 3 H3G Italy Internet Rete 3 5h:59m:56s 249.1 MB 0.00 0.0
I noticed that with a reset of Network configuration the issue disappear for a few days, now I'm just switching the phone off while sleeping and resetting network almost daily... this week no strange traffic shown.
As this issue is only on Iphone i don't think it's a problem of carrier, i do see this sent traffic on the Iphone, not only on bills...
Hope things get better with new IOS release, if not... I'm going to sell my Iphones and switch to something else.
Blame on Apple, after 127 pages of discussions they keep going as everything is ok..
Sorry for my English hope u still got the point...
Thanks for the detailed reply and background info.
ATT's 'rollup' of data transactions definitely makes sense for a paper bill, and for the summary page on their website. Unfortunately, however, customers cannot choose to view the detail behind the rollup on ATT's website -- which should be easy to provide. I also asked ATT customer service reps, billing reps and managers if they could see the detail, and they said, "No. The only information we have is what you see on our website." This makes our bills very hard to audit. We can only compare general totals and obvious outliers -- like the weeks when my son was in the hospital, and his phone was not being used.
Data rollups still don't make sense for our son's iPhone bills, because we live in a small town with 3 nearby cell towers, and he generally travels less than a mile to school and back. We still see individual data charges throughout the day -- plus rollups at night. However, the rollups completely disappear if the iPhone is set to 'airplane' mode and plugged into the charger overnight. The rollups do not reappear later, which should be the case if these charges are legitimate. (ATT would obviously want to collect the money due for these rolled up data charges.) Jiiink from Italy appears to have found the same thing.
In summary, I am surprised that Apple and ATT have not resolved this ongoing stream of complaints. Based on our experience with my son's iPhone 4S and ATT, I recently bought a Samsung Stratosphere with Verizon service. (With no data usage problems after 5 months.) I know that a class action suit has been filed, and a couple of customers have gone to Small Claims court -- but most of us vote with our credit cards. iPhone's market share is slipping, so maybe someone will pay attention.
I came across the same problem and there is one thing I found that gave me some hope of resolution. I haven't confirmed that it solved anything yet but I thought I would share it anyway in case you wanted to check your settings and try it out.
Go to Settings > iCloud > Documents & Data and switch the "Use Cellular" option to OFF.
I did that a while ago. It helps, but doesn't completely stop the iCloud data going over 3G. Every once in while, DataMan will report multi-megabytes being attributed to iCloud, even with that option disabled. Frustrating.
This problem existed long before iCloud.
There are lots of suggestions floating around about turning features off on the iPhone to prevent the large data transfers. Perhaps your data usage is close to the line every month and those suggestions would help. But a large number of us are experiencing erroneous charges for data we did not consume. So I would recommend as a first step to anyone visiting this forum for the first time, download DataMan and monitor your usage for a week or so to determine if it's within 20% or so of what AT&T reports on their website. If the two don't match, you're being overcharged due to a bug in AT&T's billing software.
I agree. As noted in my previous posts, we tried every trick mentioned on this forum -- and still experienced phantom data charges. A flaw in ATT's billing system is the only explanation I can think of. ATT's willingness to offer refunds (if you document the suspicious charges) is another indication of the source of this problem. DataMan reports have been invaluable, when I asked ATT to adjust our bill.
That said, disabling iCloud's cellular link, deinstalling data-hogging social apps, plugging the iPhone into a charger at night with cell service turned off (or Airplane mode, which is quicker and easier) all reduce data consumption, including normal data usage and the big 'data rollups' that hit your account around midnight.
One more suggestion for a data tracker -- that also includes compression to reduce data usage: http://www.onavo.com/apps/iphone_extend Note: the compression feature can be turned off, if you want reports only.