iPhone international billing question (AT&T)

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by electroshock, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. electroshock macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #1
    Hi, I've got an U.S. iPhone with AT&T as the carrier. Before visiting Canada, I added the 50 MB international data plan to the account. Used the phone while in Canada on Rogers' network. Back home now. I see the data usage has been posted to my account already and seems like that's all of it.

    So the question is: can I drop the plan now and then when I pay my bill in two weeks, I'll be charged at the plan rate? Or do I have to keep the plan activated until AFTER I pay this bill?
     
  2. Rayfire macrumors 68020

    Rayfire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    Location:
    PNW
    #2
    Keep the feature until your billing cycle ends, afterward remove it. That's what AT&T told me before, you could double check with them again and see if anything changed, but usually that's what they say for int'l data plans and int'l calling plan.
     
  3. electroshock thread starter macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

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    Sep 7, 2009
  4. daihard macrumors 6502a

    daihard

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    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #4
    The AT&T rep that I dealt with told me that I should keep the international data plan for a few days after I used it just so all the charges would be included in the plan. That's what I did when I travelled to Europe last year - I kept the plan for a few days since I came back and then dropped it, before the next billing cycle began.

    In fact, I just re-added the international data plan a few days ago as I took a one-day trip to Vancouver on Tuesday. I am going to drop the plan tomorrow. Remember, AT&T prorates their features. The longer you keep a feature, the more you'll pay.
     
  5. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    Dec 7, 2002
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #5
    Just out of interest, how much is that 50 MB plan? I want to see how much we're getting ripped off by over here :p
     
  6. electroshock thread starter macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #6
    Ahhh... :) First iPhone, and knew it was much easier to gulp down data than with other smartphones, but didn't have any past experience to compare against. So I agonized over the 20 MB and the 50 MB plan. In the end, I decided to get the 50 MB plan for this one trip out of caution. Turns out I ended up using 10 MB -- 3 of it through judicious use and 7 when I knew I wasn't going to exceed 50 MB with the remaining time for the trip.

    Oh well. :) Good learning experience. I discovered that heavy use of Google Maps + GPS and reading news articles on other websites (with their photos) made it easy to run up the 'meter' fast. For most of the trip, I turned on Location Services and data roaming only as needed. (WiFi, too, when I knew I could use it somewhere -- otherwise, turned off to reduce battery drain. Turned off automatic fetches and pushes, along with automatic image downloading in emails.)

    In the U.S., AT&T charges $24.95/month for the 20 MB international data global plan, or $0.005/KB ($5/MB) for excess data use in certain countries (including Canada) but for other countries, up to 4x higher. For 50 MB, it's $59.95/mo with same excess charges. There's also a 100 MB and 200 MB plan. I'd read too many horror stories about early adopters stuck with $800-$3000+ bills, so elected to err on side of caution. But if I took another similar trip again of a similar duration, would probably go for the 20 MB plan.

    http://www.wireless.att.com/learn/international/roaming/affordable-world-packages.jsp

    Guess that makes sense. Sounds like they 'lock in' the actual charges at the time the foreign provider data comes in, based on the plans on the account in effect at that time. I've heard a similar warning from someone experienced with AT&T who suggested holding on to the plan until all the billed data charges had been sent by the remote provider, implying what you mentioned.
     
  7. Nermal Moderator

    Nermal

    Staff Member

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    New Zealand
    #7
    I went to the US last month without an international data plan (I don't know whether such a thing exists with my carrier) and used 6 MB at $43 ($7.20/MB). It would've been lower if the hotel wifi actually worked :rolleyes:

    $25 for 20 MB is a good deal, for roaming.
     
  8. Rayfire macrumors 68020

    Rayfire

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    Aug 25, 2008
    Location:
    PNW
    #8
    Interesting, I did that before for an international call rate plan and I kept it for 5+ days (in the middle of a billing cycle) because I knew about their prorate charges, unfortunately the calls never landed on the int'l call plan that I kept (for 5+ days) which got me really pissed. As now I learned my lesson, I keep it till my cycle ends but you have a good point over there. I guess it depends on how their system really works (which as always, they're after the $$$)
     
  9. nyc4lifedt macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2009
    #9
    The posts here have answered some of my questions, but just to make sure.

    I understand that voice and message will be charged with roaming per minute, but looks like there's a separate data plan.

    50MB looks awfully small. I've been testing for the past week, using strictly 3G only and none of WiFi, but in three days I've clocked in more than 200MB. Of course I wouldn't be doing as much of data use overseas, but I'll be traveling for about two weeks.

    I was thinking about using it as a GPS in Italy, using Maps with Location Service on, rather than holding an actual map.

    Would GPS be using 3G? That would use up data plan, wouldn't it be?
     
  10. electroshock thread starter macrumors 6502a

    electroshock

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2009
    #10
    There are 20, 50, 100, and 200 MB international data plans available from AT&T.

    I ran into the same sort of situation with use of the 3GS' GPS + map use... that burned through a lot of data when using it for driving directions showing position live on a map, so I quickly moved to use it only for 'emergency' or one-off use to get directions from point A to point B. I ended up using a $7.99 plastic paper map as a backup for most of my map use. But when we were lost, the 3GS really came through big time. So it's still useful, but you'll have to be careful about data usage.

    I turn off Location Services and most other data-using features until I actually need them, use them, then quickly turn them off. I also read blogs and other data-intensive stuff on the MBP each night at the hotel using their wifi instead of on the iphone to offload a lot of expensive cellular network data usage.

    Also, the first thing I do when leaving the U.S. is to reset usage stats so I can more easily keep track of data usage outside of the U.S. If I saw I was getting close to burning through the plan data amount then I'd probably just simply disable all data features (including data roaming) then turn off the iPhone completely as a precaution until I returned to the U.S.

    Regarding the 3GS' GPS use; it's an augumented GPS device. Meaning, it can lock on the GPS satellites on its own but if you move a long way since the last lock-on (over 500 miles, I think?) or have difficult GPS reception conditions, then it will try to briefly use the local cellular data network to figure out if your nearby WiFi access points and cellular towers matches a known location for quicker GPS lock-on. So, yes, there can be some cell data network use when using GPS.
     
  11. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #11
    You don't need to turn off your iPhone to avoid data charges, you just need to turn off data roaming and only turn it on when you want to use data.
     
  12. nyc4lifedt macrumors member

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    Aug 19, 2009
  13. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    Location:
    Torrance, CA
    #13
    That is what I assumed but got a confusing reply from AT&T Small Business Representative. She sent me a email about how to reduce data usage (like set email to manual) and also set Data Roaming to Off. So if Data Roaming is OFF then why do you need to do anything else like set email to manual.

    I am going to Costa Rica. If I set Data Roaming to Off should that prevent ANY DATA to/fron the phone (email, sms, mms, browser, etc...)?

    In my hotel room I will have Free WiFi which I plan to use for Data. However, would like to use the phone to make important phone calls.

    Also, can I get Voice Mail over WiFi?
     
  14. anjinha macrumors 604

    anjinha

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2006
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    #14
    The AT&T rep was wrong. When you you have Data Roaming OFF it's like data is completely blocked. Setting email to manual doesn't make any difference because the iPhone literally can't access data with that setting off. SMS and MMS don't count as data though, they have different prices.

    Maybe she said that because some people get those international data plans. Those plans have a very limited amount of data available so it does make sense that when you have them you should have push off and email set to manual so that you don't go over your limit.
     
  15. daihard macrumors 6502a

    daihard

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #15
    I would not say she was wrong. In fact, I consider that a good piece of advice. You'd be better off setting your email options to "Manual" (as opposed to "Fetch" or "Push") in addition to turning off Data Roaming, because you want to make sure your mail does NOT go through in the short period of time when you turn on Data Roaming to do whatever necessary you need to do with the Internet while abroad.

    If you plan to leave Data Roaming off the whole time during your stay abroad, then it would not matter how you set your email fetch options.

    [EDIT] Besides, the rep probably just followed the preset guidelines. The rep I spoke to a couple of weeks ago gave me the exact same suggestions.
     

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