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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Sunday, August 19, 2007

And This Is Your $4190.76 iPhone Bill

The Consumerist:
When Pierre visited Ibiza, Spain and Europe for two weeks, his iPhone went with him, and he returned with memories of a hedonistic summer vacation, and a $4190.76 bill from AT&T.

Like others, Pierre had found out the hard way just how extremely expensive international data transfer rates are...

Pleading with AT&T customer service got him retroactively on an international plan for $24.99 for 20mb, and $5 per mb thereafter. He used 205 mb total, so his new bill is $900. Still expensive, but a bit more swallowable than 4 g's.
There have been a lot of horror stories about the cost of using an iPhone in Europe. Since I'll be using one here in France for one month--we're almost three weeks into that time as I write this--it's an obvious concern.

I was at least smart enough to enable AT&T's AT&T World Traveler plan before I left (see An American iPhone in Paris). The article quoted above doesn't specifically mention this, but it looks like Pierre forgot to do that. But as mentioned in the article, the iPhone should display a warning screen if you're using it in a high-cost area, like international. They should also offer the same low-cost international roaming options that you can get on a Blackberry ($70 a month for unlimited international roaming.) But they don't.

Anyway. I've been monitoring my usage since then and trying to keep the data usage via EDGE to a minimum. What I've seen so far is this:

- My voice usage has not been posted online all month. AT&T reports that "there are delays in reporting and processing call records ... Further delays may apply to roaming usage, which is based on call records received from other carriers. A delay of a minimum of two to ten days for roaming usage is usual and up to 60 days or longer is possible." Cute. But since I know that phone calls here are $1 a minute, the same sad price I'd pay for calls via our European phone, I'm OK with that. We've made a few calls a week and most were important. This is no different than what would have happened if we didn't bring an iPhone.

- My data usage seems pretty low. AT&T breaks data into four categories, Text/IM messaging, multimedia messaging, video share calling, and "Internet/MEdia Net" (which I think of as Internet). (And the iPhone can't use the multimedia messaging and video share calling services.) My total data usage since late July, most of which occurred here in France, has been just 1.26 MB, all Internet usage. However, I'm not on Pierre's plan. I'm on AT World Traveler, which charges 2 cents per KB. And if my math is correct, 2 cents times 1259 KB is $25.18, a pretty exorbitant fee for that amount of data traffic, but nothing close to $4000.

I've also sent 6 text messages, for which I pay 50 cents each, or $3. So... When you add it all up, my iPhone usage (hopefully) this month is $5.99 for AT&T World Traveller, $25.18 for data usage, and $3 for text messages, for a total of $34.17, not including voice charges. (Which could be as high as $100, I guess, but what the heck, we've been here a month. We've also used Skype for checking voice mails and for a few work calls.)

The problem with this math is that it assumes that AT&T's data, which I access online, is complete. It does appear to be for the data, and that's the important part.

Fingers crossed.

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[ Posted at 5:50 AM | Permalink ]


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