att-bill-640x888 StopTheCap

For years, carriers have been charging consumers with massive global data roaming fees.

Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters, was given a $10,000 bill by AT&T for his trip to Canada. A Chicago Bears fan watched his team play while on a cruise ship on the AT&T network and it cost him nearly $28,000. A Portland family got a $20,000 bill from AT&T after he used an AirCard while traveling into Canada.

When T-Mobile announced last fall that customers were being offered free data roaming while travelling internationally on 2G speeds, customers not surprisingly flocked to this offering by calling three times as much abroad, texted seven times as much and used 28 times more data than they did previously. Additionally, 53% more of its customers now roam on cellular in supported countries than before it unveiled the plans.

Now, Scott Matteson over at TechRepublic discusses his issues with global data roaming charges on Verizon’s network. Scott and his wife traveled to Ireland and signed up for Verizon’s international roaming data plan for his Samsung Galaxy S3.

“Jet lagged and sleep deprived, I stumbled around Dublin with Wendy that first day, using the Droid only to take pictures of cathedrals, the GPO, various parks and the River Liffey. Ironically enough, I wanted the international coverage in case I needed voice or data access, but I didn’t check email or social media that first day, largely because it was spent in a fog that wasn’t helped by a visit to the Guinness Storehouse.” – TechRepublic


Verizon’s first text message to him was a reminder that global data cost $20.48/Mb. After several days, he realized that Verizon was claiming that he had racked up over $500 of data usage charges in 24 hours. He had apparently used just 24.5 Mb which meant he owed Verizon more than $500.

Now, Verizon did in fact help out by allowing him to backtrack and select their other global data plan (as if he had chosen it before he left for Ireland) which lowered his bill down to just $25. To be clear, Verizon sent him messages to warn him about his data use and did allow the customer to backtrack on his plan.

The issue at hand is in general how much the wireless carriers are charging for those going around the world.

Although this is an old video from 2007, I still recommend watching it as it can be a reminder of how confusing it can be to configure your phone’s data plan when going overseas.