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U.S. iPhone users reporting phantom data usage

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Tuesday, June 8, 2010
News Categories: iPhone

A number of U.S. iPhone users are complaining of recurring mystery data usage appearing on their AT&T accounts. According to an Apple Support discussions thread, the mystery charges appear to be occurring late at night, typically between 1:00 and 3:00 a.m. Some users report that these late night data sessions have reached as high as 70MB, theoretically ruling out the possibility of simple statistics uploading, as one user points out. None of the users reporting problems has yet been able to identify the culprit, and neither AT&T nor Apple has been able to offer any explanation.

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Comments

21

I’m seeing huge data usage too. I’m in the UK on O2 and my usage with my previous iPhone 3G was about 200mb per month. After getting my iPhone 4 I noticed the usage at 1.9gb in under two weeks. I reset the stats, and in under 2 days it’s reporting over 500mb, and I barely used it yesterday as I was at a wedding.

My general use has not changed since my previous phone. Something seems very wrong to me. O2 will soon be moving to limited data tariffs so Apple better figure out what is wrong.

Posted by Colin on July 9, 2010 at 1:02 AM (PDT)

22

I noticed that AT&T is leaching off my Wifi and counting the usage as their data/3G usage. When I’m on a wifi, I started to turn off 3G/data. This has stopped gross data usage counting. My question is why should I have to turn it off everytime I’m on a wifi? This is annoying. Is this happening to anyone else?

Posted by Jl on July 9, 2010 at 9:18 AM (PDT)

23

It’s like sleepwalking… But people are on the phone.

Problem Solved!

Posted by VULTR3 on July 9, 2010 at 2:29 PM (PDT)

24

Yep same here, got charged extra for it. Thats why i switched off the data!

Posted by Iliana on July 10, 2010 at 4:17 PM (PDT)

25

so i too have found my data usage is abnormally high… im approaching 1gb and i have not been using my iphone 4 anymore than i used my 3g…  with that said, personally i dont care as i still have my unlimited data plan, but the situation as a whole is still messed up due to the fact that many people will be, or already have gotten a limited data plan.  AT&T and Apple need to address this before another lawsuit comes into play

Posted by Miles PO on July 11, 2010 at 12:11 PM (PDT)

26

I just got a notification that i have exceeded my international data usage, funny thing is my phone has been on no roaming since i arrive overseas. Looking at my bill i have a 60mb download 40 minutes after i reset my statistics. AT@T tried to say it could have been my GPS. I dont think so..i have used my phone heavily overseas and never have i had a charge of 60mb in was sitting…fact is its listed under a sent parameter not even a receive. Sounds like software bug to me. Maybe its time for a class action suit especially for everyone who doesnt have unlimited usage

Posted by Blueraysteve on July 15, 2010 at 7:59 AM (PDT)

27

If anyone has found out anymore information regarding this phantom data please shoot me an email or repost. Recently I travelled to europe, when i arrived i recieved the test msg about international rates, so i abruptly turned my data roaming off. The next day I recieved a notification saying my limit of data was reached and they shut off my data access. I called them and they said i was using alot of data internationally and my bill was 1k already. I looked at my usage report and it shows a 65mb download 45 minutes after I reset my statistics. The statistics showed 612kb sent and 8mb recieved but the billing report is showing the 65mb download 20-30 min after. I called AT@T and they said they knew nothing about this…of course! Anyhow i use my phone overseas alot and have never aquired 65mb in one sitting! anyhow any help would be usefull.

Thanks in advance

Posted by steve on July 19, 2010 at 7:31 AM (PDT)

28

I have always been on the unlimited plan but put my son on the 200MB plan. I noticed this on my data usage for both my son’s 3Gs and my iP4. One day shows 18991KB used at 1:13am when my son was sleeping at home where we have WIFI
After calling AT&T to confirm that timestamps are accurate, I called COMCAST my ISP (Boston area).  After several minutes wait, a customer service rep was able to check and find out that Comcast has been consistently performing maintenance this month between 1 and 3am!
They do not give any advance notice about this and I don’t know if this is an ongoing thing or something they are working on for a limited time.
When Comcast pulls the plug, the IPhone switches to 3G and any rogue open programs running in the backgrond or internet pages left open on the iPhone are sucking the data and robbing me blind.

Is there any law that requires Comcast or any other ISP to inform their users when there is going to be planned disruption in service.  Can I send my data bill to Comcast?

Posted by RJ on July 22, 2010 at 11:32 AM (PDT)

29

I have the same issue
07/22   12:25 AM   phone   Internet/MEdia Net   Sent   9999KB

Posted by Jose on July 26, 2010 at 2:14 PM (PDT)

30

I have an iPhone 4 on a 200MB plan & it has the phantom usage which uses 7KB-13KB every 10 minutes or so. This occurs all through out the day & night.

My iPhone 3GS is on the unlimited plan. It does NOT have the phantom usage at all. The iPhone 3GS has been updated to 4.0 as well.

The settings on the two phones are the same with the same apps.

WHY THE DIFFERENCE?

Posted by MAD AT AT&T on July 28, 2010 at 6:13 PM (PDT)

31

If your iPhone is connected to your router it doesn’t disconnect simply because your router loses internet connectivity. I’ve had this happen and I’m just not able to browse any pages on Safari until I reset the connection on the router.

One solution is to use the new iOS4 Network option to disable cellular data before you go to bed. Don’t forget to turn it back on during the day since it’s required to send/receive MMS (this one bit me a while back).

Posted by Nick on July 29, 2010 at 3:08 PM (PDT)

32

AT&T is playing with privacy, and ripping off customers by these myesterious night data transfer. When I called yesterday they said they are not aware of this issue and when i just googled there are hundreds of posts regarding this. I would sure like to know about their training on how to lie to customers.

Posted by frustrated iphone user on July 31, 2010 at 7:11 AM (PDT)

33

Hey all, I stumbled across this forum after getting messages from ATT in three successive days telling me I had chewed through 200Mb and they were charging me $15 each. Well, I was pretty surprised to say the least because I don’t use data in a big way and I certainly don’t do a lot of 3G activity as I am at home or school all day and evening and thus constantly surrounded by WiFi.

So, naturally I called customer service, who let me know about the odd data patterns happening at 2am and often amounting to 30 MEG or more. This is happening daily.

Customer service offered me a $15 credit and suggested I go to the 2Gb data plan that was now discounted due to the $15 credit to a ‘mere’ $10 more. This month.

I wasn’t very satisfied but considering that at that time I thought it might have been a rogue app I said ok and went on my way. As I kept reading this forum (and many others) I grew more upset and curious. By the time I got home, I received yet another notice that I had run out of data. FOUR in the same day all due to ATT misunderstanding their own information about the plan I was on and how much data I had used.

I called Customer service, they put me on to Tech Support and there I was in conversation for 3 HOURS and TWENTY MINUTES during this conversation they suggested that I should put my phone in airplane mode every night, then got Apple Tech on the conference call.

We both waited ten minutes on hold there and finally got an Apple tech who had not heard of this problem before, but suggested that doing a restore might help. I politely asked to speak to someone who had heard of this problem before and he got really pissy with me. Finally he transferred us to David, his supervisor who said he was familiar with this problem and here is what we discovered….

(This is straight from a person who ATT tech support called and called himself a supervisor for Apple tech support)

Every iPhone 4 sends data to ATT every night at 2am. We are not supposed to be charged for this, but somehow that data bit is getting missed that flags this traffic as ATT initiated data.

The phone is using the 3G network by default because this is information going straight to ATT’s databank.

————————- /:

Well…. somehow through a billing snafu we discover that your phone is waking up at 2am and sending ATT information about everything that happened during the day on your new miracle phone.

I wonder if the size of this data dump is commensurate with the amount of data you used on WiFi… ? Is ATT collecting a copy of everything that you do on WiFi? Do they share that with Apple? (I can’t see how they WOULDN’T have some such agreement)

The thing that really creeps me out is the possibility that your privacy is protected when you get IP traffic through a server but NOT protected once that data is ON the iPhone. Even if you opt-out of the stats transmittal on the phone, there is nothing preventing ATT from collecting everything you do.

The first part of my conversation with ATT tech support, she kept saying that the phone was “synchronizing”.

I can’t see why in the world ATT would need to have my personal phone use and have the actual data copied that I used.

IF this is an ‘aggregate’ notification of the traffic I used on 3G throughout the day then all that would be required is a simple data bit telling ATT how much data I used off their network. BUT ATT DOESN"T NEED MY PHONE TO KNOW WHAT I DID BECAUSE THEY OWN THE NETWORK MY DATA WENT ON.

Added to the many people here who post big downloads on days when they have not used the phone, we get a disturbing picture of the real truth here.

I’m quite sure ATT is not allowed to copy, intercept or trap your IP activity when is passes through their servers, without a Warrant.

I’m also quite sure Apple clearly tells you they will collect data about your usage whether you like it or not.

What I have not read anywhere, or agreed to, is ATT clandestinely collecting that data in the middle of the night and providing it to Apple or using it themselves.

I am the paying customer being challenged by a monopoly in a way that I cannot protect my own security and privacy.

I’m posting this everywhere I can.

Posted by pized0ff on September 18, 2010 at 4:30 AM (PDT)

34

I’m using my phone less than my friends and being charged 10x more for data. wonderful

09/17 08:02 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 98897KB

09/16 08:02 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 111834KB

09/14 11:53 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 216611KB

Posted by Phantom Data on September 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM (PDT)

35

I have exactly the same situation as Steven and Ayanna!  My phone (and I used what seemed to be a lot of cellular data) used only 5 mb all week.  My wife, who hardly used it at all, and then mostly at home where there is wo-fi, rang up 26 mb in the same time. Our daughter uses more than either of us, and her usage is 9 mb.  Only my wife’s phone has the Phantom Usage nocturnal symptom.  It is really strange. The only way I could combat the escalating charges was to turn off cellular data in prefs. Unfortunately, this also turns off one of the coolest features of the iPhone, visual voicemail :(

Posted by michael on September 28, 2010 at 7:42 PM (PDT)

36

Why are ATT and Apple making this our problem!?!?! This has been going on for months.  It can’t be that hard to figure out.  MAKE IT GO AWAY.

Posted by Bob Shore on October 4, 2010 at 4:18 PM (PDT)

37

By the way, I have two big 80MB chunks of data sent on my usage list on my ATT bill.  But my phone says the total data I’ve sent on my iPhone 4 since I got it in June is just 36MB.  Clearly it’s not me sending data that’s generating this.

Posted by Bob Shore on October 4, 2010 at 4:23 PM (PDT)

38

I just purchased two new iphones 11 days ago.  This morning I went online to check my usage and found one of the phones has already used 1G of the 2G plan I get.  Upon further inspection I found numerous data charges in the middle of the night, often times an exact hour apart (1:12am, 2:12am, 3:12 am, 4:12am, 5:12am). During these times the phone had no reason to be sending anything over 3G because I set the phone to wifi when I’m at home.I was on the phone with an AT&T rep for 50 minutes.  He acted like this was the first time hearing anything like this.  This was probably never a problem if people were on unlimited usage, but when you are confined to 2G of usage you don’t want a big chunk of it being taken for phantom charges.  AT&T said they would adjust my bill at the end of the cycle, but whom wants to deal with this every month.  Please fix AT&T!!  In the meantime I read online that you should turnoff your Enable 3G and Cellular Data when at home on wifi.  However doing that you lose the voicemail feature where it shows you the name of who called.  Plus, why should I have to go through the hassle of tuning off hose functions??  wouldn’t it be better if AT&T just found out what was making the data charges and fix it!  PLEASE!!

Posted by John S. on October 22, 2010 at 9:48 PM (PDT)

39

In the two days since I discovered this problem on my phone, I’ve kept the “Cellular Data” setting turned off.  So in theory, my iPhone 3GS iOS4 can ONLY access the internet via WiFi, which AT&T says is free and shouldn’t even be included in my “data usage” tally.  I also downloaded the “Dataman” app to track my usage, and have kept the phone completely powered off almost all of the time.

Even so, I’ve gotten usage alert e-mails and texts from AT&T each of the past two nights, and the on-line myWireless account says I’ve used an additional 90Mb, even though Dataman says I’ve used 7 Mb of Wireless and 0 Mb of cellular data in that time.  AT&T says I’ve used 607 Mb in the past week when my phone says I’ve only used 45 Mb (settings->general->usage)  Both my phone and AT&T agreed that I’d used 485 Mb TOTAL for the combined 3 months I’ve had the phone through last week.

This is NOT routine tracking, or updating, or compiling of the day’s usage.  AT&T’s billing system think I’m using data when I’m not.  Is this a virus? Hackers? System error?  Evil manipulation to force me to upgrade my AT&T account?  HELP!!!

Posted by Fred on November 27, 2010 at 8:18 AM (PDT)

40

I have been dealing with AT&T with the same EXACT issue now for 2 weeks. ( I am looking back 4 months on our bill)  “They” are investigating it!!!  I do believe this is an internal (higher up) AT&T issue and they are not telling us the truth.  I have spoken to numerous agents and NONE of them claim they have heard of this issue!!!  You are kidding, just google this problem and there are literally thousands of ordinary people with the same problem.  I am under the old unlimited plan and my wife on the new limited plan. I use my internet service ALL the time and my wife uses it minimally, emails and a little facebook. Believe me(AT&T does not), when I say that here internet usage is minimal,  my wife’s internet data usage according to our bill is greater then mine!!!!!????  We have ended up paying over usage charges twice on my wife’s phone.  Funny huh?  I am wondering how many costumers end up paying over usage charge. and how much $$$ this adds to the AT&T upper managements and share holders pockets.  I am still dealing with AT&T(1/3/2011) and will try to get to the bottom of this.  Also, I did contact Apple to see if they did any “phantom” downloads on our phones and they said NO.  GOOD LUCK TO ALL

Posted by Tauno on January 3, 2011 at 10:14 AM (PDT)

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