Phones

How to Avoid Apple iPhone, iPad 3G Overages

Likewise, exceeding the allotment on an iPad pay-as-you-go plan buys another tranche of data if usage exceeds what you already paid for. Again, many carriers outside the United States are taking a similar approach. For laptops, Virgin Mobile USA offers a USB 3G radio that has reasonably priced pay-as-you-go options similar to AT&T's iPad plans; if you exceed your 3G usage, it simply won't connect to anything other than the Virgin Mobile account page from which you can buy another data tranche.

5. Prepare for travel abroad. Where you're liable for exorbitant charges is when you bring your device outside the country and end up paying excruciatingly high international data roaming charges. As I've described previously, you have a few choices:

  • Turn off the cellular radio (switch to Airplane Mode in your Settings app) and rely on Wi-Fi. You can get inexpensive Wi-Fi hotspot roaming throughout the world using a service such as Boingo Wireless.

  • Get a local pay-as-you go data plan and a local 3G SIM card. Rates are usually much cheaper than international roaming charges, but be careful when ordering such services over the Internet, especially ones offering multicountry roaming. They're often no cheaper than what AT&T charges for international roaming, once you include their SIM card fee, shipping charges, connection charges, limited amounts of included bytes, and the like. It's best to get these services in the country you're visiting, after researching the options online for each of that country's carriers.

6. Look at mobile expense management tools. If your organization is large and has lots of people bopping about, the techniques described so far may rely too much on manual operations and good behavior (such as counting on employees to use airplane mode abroad). You might consider using a mobile expense management tool such as Tangoe and Visage Mobile.

But beware: Most of these tools and services rely on alerting you (and sometimes the employee) after or when a policy threshold has been reached, so you may not have the information until it's too late to prevent the overage charge you're trying to avoid. You may get equivalent or even better results if you tell employees up front that they're responsible for any overages they incur and give them the basic outlines of how to avoid them in the first place.

In addition, many of these tools are designed for laptops and have limited capabilities on smartphones; iPass is an example of such a laptop-oriented mobile management tool. Their capabilities also can differ widely across smartphone models. Pin down the provider as to exactly what the tool can do for each device you have or are considering, and don't expect that detail to be displayed at the provider's Website.

These expense management tools make sense if they save you more money than they cost to deploy and manage -- which usually means they're really just for very large organizations with lots of mobile workers.

This article, "Scared of iPhone 3G overages? Here's what to do," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Gruman et al.'s Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile computing at InfoWorld.com.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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