ASMT Special Bulletin: If You Read Your Contract You Wouldn’t Have A $5,000 3G Bill
* An article that I just ran across made me want to bring this up again with everyone. If you use 3G Cellular Internet – please make sure that you check your account, that is log in to your http://www.wireless.att.com/ online account manager (assuming you use AT&T) and keep an eye on your Data/Internet Usage.
Most plans have a cap of 5Gb. After 5Gb you can be billed per Kb for usage. Your account details will tell you how much data usage you have available per month – and how much has been used.
I was surprised to find that … after going almost exclusively on 3G cellular this month, how close I was getting to 5Gb. My example looks like this:
USAGE TYPE INCLUDED USED REMAINING OVERAGE
GPRS WAP/ISP 5GB DOM $0.00048KB ADDL – DCG5
5120MB 2931.44MB 2188.57MB 0.01MB
* You’ll see that I have 5129 Megabytes available, 2931.44 Megabytes used, and 2188.57 Megabytes remaining.
Now grant it I just uploaded 2 web sites to a new web server … and I probably get more email and do more web activity than most people do. But it is something to keep an eye on.
If you’ve got WiFi as well … use that when you can. That wasn’t a sales pitch for WiFi. But as this article tells … a lot of people may not be aware of any 5GB cap. (It might be different if you are Blackberry or WAP? on AT&T so confirm what you get!) I just want to get the word out there. I’m even offering to help you learn about this… to help you find your usage and capacity on your plan. I just want to help anyone avoid getting an outrageous bill as described in this article. And trust me – I’ve heard worse than $5000.00 but that was with Roaming Internet in the Carribean. Also get with me if you need International Data Plan on AT&T to help avoid the Roaming Robbery as well.
Additional Note: Most wireless services have usage limits (“caps”), including satellite, if you examine their contracts or terms of service at great enough length. Hughes Net (previously called DirecWay) has a cap. VSAT services – I’ll bet have a cap. I worked in Cable Modems – and Cable Modems have download caps.
(end of comments by Alan Spicer.)
If You Read Your Contract You Wouldn’t Have A $5,000 3G Bill
AT&T sued for huge Acer netbook data bill…
02:54PM Monday Mar 02 2009 by Karl Bode
tags: prices · business · wireless · bandwidth · Op/Ed · consumers · caps
Tipped by Jim_in_VA
We’ve seen an endless flood of stories about people who don’t read their wireless broadband contract, then get shocked when the bill comes due. Last week we discussed how customers in these stories fail to properly research what they’re buying, and the carriers involved have a history of portraying limited wireless broadband services as unlimited. Carriers also often fail to give subscribers a heads up until the bill gets completely out of hand, and often don’t cut the confused user slack until some local network affiliate does a consumer help segment.
These stories usually involve a tethered smartphone or data card, but a new class action lawsuit filed against AT&T and Radioshack focuses on a netbook promotion being offered by the two companies. The promotion, which was unveiled back in December, offers users an Acer Aspire One for $100 if they sign a two year AT&T data contract. An excerpt of the complaint from RCR Wireless News:
“Although the customer service summary informed plaintiff and other consumers that their first bill might be higher than expected because of a $36 activation fee…neither plaintiff nor other consumers were informed, nor could they have reasonable discerned from the paper work that wireless Internet usage exceeding 5GB per month would result in astronomical charges running into the thousands of dollars.”
While the Radio Shack promotion page doesn’t mention the 5GB cap, AT&T’s terms of service (pdf) clearly does (in bold print), the website does, and the overage fees you’ll incur are very clearly labeled as well. AT&T 3G data users are also notified of the limit via the AT&T “communication manager” for data cards. While carriers used to have invisible caps they advertised as unlimited, a little pressure from NY’s Attorney General largely put an end to that back in 2007. While some carriers (like Cricket) still engage in false advertising, AT&T does not.
A recent survey suggested that the vast majority of American consumers have no idea what a gigabyte is, or how many gigabytes they use. In other words, consumers are going to have to become more educated very quickly (unlikely), or carriers are going to have to engage in a lot more hand holding to make these types of stories stop.
(end of DSL Reports Article)
* It gets better. More at:
* Go read that article as well… But an interesting part to me was the following:
In the wired world, consumers are used to consuming massive amounts of data from the Internet without incurring extra charges. However, wireless providers must carefully manage their radio spectrum inventories to support voice and data applications. That has its own challenges. Complicating matters further for wireless carriers is that the governments supply of airwaves is dwindling at a time when future revenue projections are based on increased data and content usage by consumers. On top of that, some companies and advocacy groups continue to urge policymakers to make wireless networks open to all non-harming devices and applications. Such an across-the-board rule could make it harder for wireless service providers to manage their networks.
In the marketplace, the question is whether wireless broadband consumers are willing to embrace a trade-off giving them on-the-go access to the Internet in exchange for cost-prohibitive Internet data restrictions. As such, wireless providers could find it a major challenge trying to replicate consumers wired broadband experience.
AT&T Mobility, along with Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp., have previously acknowledged that they cap wireless data use at 5 GB per month.
(end of that quoted part of article.)
* It gets better … make sure you have a look at the comments at the bottom of the article, like this one:
Those Stupid, Irrespnsible Consumers!???
March 2, 2009 06:00 am
Next week, CBS Sports will be promoting the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by informing their viewers on TV that they can freely watch the tournament whereever they have an Internet connection at CBSSports.com. In turn, millions of viewers will watch the games on their computers and tune into the live game feeds.Major League Baseball is selling selling subscriptions for fans to watch their favorite teams’ games out of market over MLB.com.Not once will you see any disclaimer that if you view the events on your computer, you could be subject to using 200MB of data for each hour you watch the games.This can be an expensive proposition for Verizon, AT&T and Sprint subscribers to their 3G wireless products.Consumers have been trained over the years to access the Internet for a certain price for unlimited service. As I agree, 5GB is a large amount of data usage for a month of service. 98% of subscribers do not go over the threshhold of 5GB of data usage, but as more and more opportunities come over the Internet to stream video for events and activities, those numbers will increase.The average consumer does not know how much data they are utilizing. When they purchase a wireless telephone, they know how many minutes they are consuming, up to the second but data usage is very difficult to track. The wireless companies provide a data usage button on their access managers, however the data usage statistics are only accurate up to the previous day and do not reflect realtime statistics of usage.I think the wireless companies have gotten themselves into this mess with very poor policy decisions made by people who do not know what they are doing. If they do not want consumers to surf the net the way they did before they purchased a 3G data card, why are they even selling data cards? Why are they allowing companies like Netgear, Kyocera, D-Link, Cradlepoint and Linksys to build 3G wireless routers so customers can share their 3G connection and further tack on the bandwidth?I believe the plantiff in this case has an excellent chance of defeating the companies. CONTRACT OR NO CONTRACT, NO CONSUMER SHOULD EVER RECEIVE A BILL OF THOUSANDS OR EVEN HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS WHEN THEY ARE EXPECTING TO PAY $59.99 A MONTH WHICH IS ALREADY AN INFLATED PRICE TO SURF THE INTERNET! Especially without a warning of some kind.Personally, I sell these products and I warn each and every customer about the usage threshhold. However, customers will be customers and most do not even understand how to properly use their computer and with the low prices for netbooks, many are getting their first computer and since the prices are so low, they are purchasing these computers for each member of their family, along with a wireless router to share the connection. When events like March Madness, MLB and even things on Youtube, Facebook and MySpace show up, this attracts the masses. They do not realize there is a “pay to play” consequence involved as they are more inclined to use their computer the same way they watch TV because that is why they are paying the cable or satelite companies the high fees in the first place.$59.99 a month for 3G wireless Internet access is high enough. When you are expecting a $59.99 bill in the mail and it is hundreds, if not thousands of dollars more, WITHOUT WARNING, there is a problem and what do the wireless companies expect to happen, as they are selling these products to consumers and are promoting the products on billboards and commercials during prime viewing time on TV?These policies were put into place by these companies by executives who really do not know what they are doing. These are voice policies for data usage and they are wrong. This happened in the CDPD (cellular digital packet data)era in the mid to late 1990’s and now it is happening again today. IT NEEDS TO STOP SINCE MAINSTREAM CONSUMERS DID NOT PURCHASE CDPD BUT THEY ARE PROMOTED TO AND ARE PURCHASING 3G AND LATER 4G!Say what you all want that a consumer signed a contract and should be aware of the data threshhold of 5GB and 25-50 cents per MB overrage charge. The average consumer does not know how much data they are using and the wireless companies are not making it easy for them to know this. ATTORNIES WILL HAVE A FIELD DAY WITH THIS, POLICY OR NO POLICY, CONTRACT OR NO CONTRACT.To make the plantiff’s case stronger, you can go to 100 people selling this product and 100 people will sell the product in different ways, telling customers different things. The disclosure aspect is abysmal and leaves things wide open for litigation. When consumers get screwed, the public will hear about it.The solution to this mess is simple. The wireless companies created it and need to decide whether they should continue to sell these exclusive wireless data products at all if they are so concerned that 2-5 percent of their users will damage the entire industry by watching streaming video and using more bandwidth than the other 95 percent. Should they wait for the 4G products to come out like LTE or WiMax? Will LTE or WiMax be any better? If not, they are setting themselves up for failure by selling faster speeds and limiting the output to consumers.As more and more consumers are able to afford computers and have wireless mobile broadband access, this problem will become more and more commonplace.Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the last you are going hear of this. The best will be yet to come! I promise you!
(end of that one, but there’s more…)
March 2, 2009 06:05 am
ATT has notifications pop up on the communication manager (the software that stays open during your entire connection time) when you hit 3G (to notify you that you’re getting close) and again at 4 (to say hey slow down) and at 5 to say that you have exceeded your data limit and to call customer service.They recently started suspending customer who go over 6 GB which is probably in response to this lawsuit..However..customers have been warned often about the 5 GB data plan since 3-6 months before they implimented the overage charges. It’s in the contract, the Customer Service Summary, and in the data plan details..and for those people who say 5GB is NOT a lot… for normal browsing (which is what this card is intended for) it is more than enough. If you are using it as a router, for gaming, steaming, large downloads, then no it won’t last. These cards should never be used for that.And to the person who said it doesn’t cost carriers anything…It clogs up the network not allowing people to use it for what its intended for..such as phone calls. It’s necessary to cap it in order to make the network be more useful. Issues with the ATT network started after the iPhone 3G was released due to so much 3G internet usage on the iPhone and all other users with normal phones were beginning to experience more dropped calls/call failed. Just my 2 cents.
(that’s all on that comment, and all on my coverage of this situation for now. Please visit the original articles if you want to read more.)
* There’s definately a problem brewing. All that glitters is perhaps not 3G Gold. As things push on in communications I’ll try to keep an eye on hot topics like this one.
Alan Spicer Telecom / Alan Spicer Marine Telecom
communications (at) marinetelecom.net
+1 954 683 3426