Iphone Data Roaming Settings For International Travel – or how to avoid racking up an $8 billion dollar roaming charge!

It’s Wednesday!  Time for a post!

Oh cellular service providers!  How can it be legal? But alas, yes, it is legal and most probably will be until a Senator gets hit with a $4,000 roaming charge upon returning home from an International trip…..but I can’t see that happening anytime soon because the bill would most certainly be reduced once the service provider found out the bill in question belonged to a Senator…….so here are a few pointers with pictures, links to information, and even a forum of poor souls who forgot to change their roaming settings, lamenting their bills (not only AT&T, but many carriers all over the world).  If traveling Internationally, please do research and reading on your own to make sure things have not changed since this post!  Also, if you find inaccuracies, please let me know!  Thanks!

Here we go!  (Clicking on images will enlarge them)

First, click on your “Settings” button

Turn off Cellular Data & Data Roaming

Turn off “Push” and choose Manually for “Fetch”

I was wondering about a few things as I cruised along doing research on this topic.

1. What was my normal data usage at home?  I reset my statistics (“Usage” above “Network” on the “General” screen) and left everything set to my normal settings – my phone’s Data Roaming looking for emails, Facebook updates, etc every 15 minutes.  I took a couple of photos and texted them to myself. Then I kind of forgot about it.  About an hour later (actually an hour and six minutes later), sitting in traffic….I looked at my usage screen, the total was 167 KB – but the International Data Package offered by AT&T lists MB as their data measurement…hmmmm.  I Googled the conversion and it turns out that 167 KB = .163 MB was used by leaving my phone on (by “on”, I mean restrictions set to normal and turning the phone on to see if my Usage level had changed) for an hour.

2. If I turn off Cellular Data and Data Roaming, do I also need to turn off 3G?  Nope, if you turn off Cellular Data and Data Roaming, you are good to go with regard to Network Settings (you will still need to disable push notifications)- and yes, you will still be able to send and receive text messages and calls…oddly enough. (See this article)

3. I went to Mexico a couple of months ago and turned off all my Roaming settings, but was still wondering about calling and texting plans for International travel.  I spoke with a very nice woman and asked her all sorts of questions…..and found out the following bits of info that I thought were interesting.

TEXTING PLANS – Texting plans are pro-rated because they are a monthly charge. She mentioned this to me because I wanted to get the “50 msg for $10 plan” and she asked me how long I would be staying in Mexico. I said “a week” and she said I could sign up for the “200 msg for $30 plan”, use all 200 messages, and as long as I called them when I got home to cancel the plan for the remainder of the month….the charge would only be about $7.50 because I had only used a quarter of the allotted time on the plan…..of course there is no mention of this on the website and I would call to make sure they have not changed the rules by the time you read this……

CALLING PLANS – I asked her “if someone calls me and I don’t pick up, I don’t get charged – right?”   WRONG! You are charged from  the  moment  your  phone  starts  ringing.  I asked her if there was any way to block calls but still have my phone on so that I could make calls and just not receive them…..Nope…..except that I could forward my calls to a different number (home, different cell, etc.) so they would never ring through to my phone — Excellent idea!!  – just be sure to make sure the message asks the caller to text you…without sounding like you are out of town – in the event of an emergency, people can text you and ask you to call them!

Call Forwarding

Here is a link to the About.com Iphone Data Roaming Horror Stories Forum

$7,000 lesson!!!

I just got back from Europe and found out the the few hours I used the Internet cost me over $7,000.00! Even though I called my cell phone company and purchased a roaming package, I learned that I only had very limited coverage (10mb). I was shocked – I did not know this could happen! This was a very expensive lesson and I will turn roaming off from now on – no more data plans for me!
—Guest DB
And last but not least a couple of useful links for conserving data usage on the iPhone
www.imore.com  Data Conservation
www.apple.com
By Eleanore Macnish