Studies show that you may be getting overcharged for data in low signal areas

September 17, 2012
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    If you’re reading this, then chances are you are using a smartphone that uses mobile data, and you’re concerned about your bill. Since the smartphone craze started a few years back, more and more users are using their mobile devices more than their home internet connection. However, there is a new study that shows that you may get overcharged for your data: not for the data you’re using, but for the data you’re not using.

    It sounds cryptic, doesn’t it? UCLA professor Chunyi Peng recently conducted a study to see if people were getting charged their fair amount for data services. Surprisingly, the results were that the data carriers were, in fact, charging people correctly for their data. What they aren’t doing is making sure the data actually gets to the device. That’s right, you could be getting overcharged for data that you’re not even receiving.

    Here’s how it works according to Chunyi Peng and ExtremeTech. When a device is charged for data, it’s because the network sent data packets to the device. However, if the device is in a weak service area, it may never receive those packets. Thus, you’re being charged for packets of data youre device is not actually receiving.

    How can I tell if I’m being overcharged?

    If you live in a low service area, there’s a good chance you already are. It According to Peng, the average user is already being overcharged 5 to 7%. This isn’t a huge deal on carriers that have unlimited data. However, if you’re on a carrier that charges when you go over, this can actually cost you some money.

    There are some ways you can prevent this from happening. In particular, try not to use your device in areas with bad signal. If you have to, try to keep usage to a minimum. In any case, this is definitely something that needs to get fixed. Potentially, the worst part is the carriers that were tested were never publicly named. There has been hints that they are large carriers in the U.S. That doesn’t mean that smaller carriers don’t suffer from this same problem, though. It could be happening to you right now.

    How bad would this affect your phone bill if it did happen to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

    Comments

    • raindog469

      There are several reasons I’ve stayed with Sprint for over a decade despite poor device selection, spotty coverage compared to Verizon, and nonexistent 4G in my area. Chief among those reasons is that I had unlimited data before most people even had data plans, and still do. I literally haven’t paid anyone for data usage since I left Compuserve in about 1990, and I hope I never will. That said, if Sprint didn’t have unlimited data, I have no doubt they’d be among the worst offenders since I have 1 bar more often than 6.

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