AT&T Explains Late Night Data Usage

We’ve previously reported on the late night data usage which has plagued many iPhone owners. In the early hours of the morning, data packets appear to be sent to AT&T, when the phone clearly isn’t being used. Numerous attempts to ask AT&T about this occurrence has lead to the idea that the company has no idea what’s going on. Seriously, read comments on our previous post, and see some of the stuff AT&T has used to explain it.

It looks like we finally have a legit explanation. Gizmodo did a piece on the issue, and finally managed to wrangle a legitimate sounding explanation:

This is a routine update of your daily data activity on your device to ensure the accuracy of your data billing. Customers are not charged for data usage, given that no data session is generated. It’s not uncommon for devices that are ‘always on’, like iPhone, to process data event records for billing purposes after a certain amount of inactivity or after long periods of time. It’s also separate from how our system lets you monitor your data consumption.

So it doesn’t count against your data usage, thank goodness for that!


  1. Nick says

    i still dont see how this can be – when i use no data for the day and the next morning i go and look at my data usage and its 20+ MBS higher how is it separate in the system? it still shows up as me using it thus i will be charged.

  2. Randy says

    I agree. There is no separation in the billing listing of data usage. I don’t see how it’s not billed.

  3. Eric says

    Since you cannot determine what your true usage is in a month, your being charge for the data.

    Suppose you are on a 200MB plan… How long before the phone thinks you’ve used up your allotment. Or worse, you buy more time when you dont have too.

    The only way this could be free is if the data usage does not change. GIZMODO, dig deeper the ATT response does not make sense.

  4. DavidChu says

    The increase in data usage you see overnight on your account is from the delay it takes to update your usage.

    • Nick says

      @DavidChu. – No its not. Yesterday i used no data at all – left my phone in the house all day under wifi and this morning at 2 AM i got a large amount of data added on.

      • says

        Where do I go to get that info in in my ATT bill? Have had phone for a short time and data all used on the $15.00 Iphone plan. I am ‘ol novice, so pardon my lack of knowledge.

  5. SC says

    I’ve been using an iphone based GPS that downloads map data from the network. It does use a lot of data, but the time that that is being used does not correspond to the time when large amounts of data are posted. In fact even the dates are not matched up. I think there is a 2 day delay. This is also in the small print below your data usage in your att account.

  6. says

    “So it doesn’t count against your data usage, thank goodness for that!”

    I noticed the first late-night usage this morning (the first day of my billing cycle, and also first day of the limited data plan). 26MB at 2AM. You know what AT&T reported as my usage today? 26MB/200MB. So this definitely seems to be counting towards my data usage.

    • R says

      I just went through hell with a 257 MB media net upload at 6am that AT&T couldn’t explain. Neither could apple and I don’t even know what that could have been. Apple replaced my phone. Still too soon to tell.

  7. Jstall says

    Why would it take 26mb to upload your data usage? That’s way more than it should be. WTF are they doing? 26kb would be more like it. We need a fire wall for the iPhone lol! No wonder the network is slow, with all the iPhones out there uploading 26mb per phone would take hours!
    This is complete B.S. !!!

  8. TB says

    My wife’s iphone was just hit with 165MB of usage at night while we were sleeping and in wifi range of our router. Then I immediately received an email saying that she was close to her 200MB limit. It is definitely counting against our data usage.

  9. Nick Zajac says

    This is a complete lie. im 13 days into my billing cycle and have used 170 megabytes out of 200. now talking with att there was data being pulled from my phone that was 50,000 kb at 252 am and another one on another night for 12,000

  10. kz says

    I’m having the same problem, guys, this is BS. they put me over the 200MB limit and charged me for it. One night it sent 80MB of data !! WTF. what’s it sending? this is scary. this isn’t like apple. approx. Now it says i’ve used 300MB and it charged me an extra 15bucks. over 200MB of this was over night sent data while i slept.

  11. RC says

    I hate to say it, but we are on our third overage charge for the month because of this………. they are charging for it

  12. Theresa says

    Not true! We are being charged for this usage. In fact, the first month I switched from the unlimited plan to the $15, 200 MB plan, I went over for the very first time. On 8/12/10 at 2:42 AM I was charged with 128724 KB. Since I was asleep at the time, I can only assume this is AT&T at work. I contacted the Manager of Consumer Complaints and was told that unless you turn your iPhone off every time you use the Internet, you are still connected and usage is accumulating. Since I have never turned my phone off before the switch and have never even come close to the 200 MB total, I do not believe this individual knows what he is talking about. I was able to get a credit for the additional $15 charge, but simply don’t understand what is going on. My daughter is always connected to Facebook even though she does not post often. She, too, went over the 200 MB total the very first month for the first time in her history of owning the iPhone. I believe this is a way for AT&T to scam its customers since no one can give a reasonable response to our inquiries.

  13. Chris says

    Yep. They are absolutely charging for the additional data usage. Apparently, AT&T feels this is “just how the iPhone works”. Completely ridiculous.

  14. tony says

    Same issue with samsung captivate. First month got on facebook, twitter, messed around with different GPS apps, and was well under my 200MB plan, Now, at least twice a week getting these late night charges.I already went over my 200 MB plan in the first two days this month.Was told by rep i was sending late night emails with large attachments, then told by other att rep that it was an accumulation of the days usage that gets totalled up at night. No real answers.

    • KG says

      I found the same problem on my Iphone too and apparently I have almost used up my 200mbs in two days. I spent 40mins on the phone with a customer service rep who first told me that the these the timing of the late night usage is incorrect and that I must have used my phone during the day. I was then told that these could be apple updates that are coming through when my phone is locked. Also it seems we will be charged for this usage if we go over. I feel like this is just a scam to get the people with the 200mb plan to upgrade.

      • Rob Murphy says

        It is not a scam to get the 200mb people to upgrade. How do I know this? Because we have the unlimited data plan and while researching whether or not to downgrade I noticed that recently large amounts of data are being sent between 11pm – 12am almost every night! I don’t know what is going on but I have a feeling AT&T does, and their lack of disclosure on this matter is quite frankly disturbing.

  15. vacorda says

    Same problem here in my daughter’s HTC Aria.She would get 85MB usage sent!!! This is just gmail, facebook, web. I called ATT&T and they said they have no idea. I checked the browsing history of my daughter and I do not see anything suspicious. I checked her facebook and she did not upload anything that would reach 85MB!!! What is going on with ATT&T?

  16. Lisa says

    How does other wireless companies process data for billing? AT&T is the only company having this p[roblem. And yes, we are being charged. I recieved a notice saying I had used 65% of my data usage in 7 days when I had never even accessed anything. Something is awry.

  17. Lisa B. says

    We are having the same issues with AT&T they are charging us for data in the middle of the night. Saying your phone updates on its own. My daughter had in one night 51,900 and now is 65% into the 7 days of our bill. My son has the samsung captivate and it was doing the same thing. He had to turn of his data. They did give us a $15 credit but its a shame you have to turn off things you pay for. My daughter has a blackberry bold 9700 and they say you can’t turn it off. I can’t afford to pay $15 2 or 3 times in a month. AT&T won’t help with the problem I think its just away from them to get extra money from you. AT&T might be doing updates on its on so you will use more data.

    • no not one says

      buy out your contract and go with a provider that’s in the customer business. AT&T is the poorest managed cell provider in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio & Tennessee IMO.

  18. Blendmasala says

    Same issue on Captivate. The data usage keeps going up by 10-15MB every other day while the phone is on wi-fi network 95% of the time. Checked the data usage on AT&T site and shows everything being ‘Sent’ all the time. Nothing meaningful on ‘Receive’. Also all ‘Sent’ is to listed as wap.Cingular. Talked to AT&T and they are not able to explain the usage.

  19. Tracy says

    There’s go to be something ppl can do about this. We just realized this issue today on our Iphone after getting a message that we were close to our limit, and ATT couldn’t explain it either. Used 143MB at 2am, 6am, etc…. when the phone was on airplane mode. ATT never has an explanation for anything, everyone we’ve talked to says something different, and since a lot of people are having this issue, they have to do something. We just resigned our contract, but would love to go with Verizon at this point since they will be Iphone capable soon. We don’t have time to keep calling every month to get these charges off. Has anyone gotten a resolution yet from ATT???

  20. ANdrey says

    I have the exact same problem!!! does anyody know if i can cancel my contract without an ETF because of this reason?

    • Gianni Simplicio says

      Sorry to say, but you will be charged an ETF for canceling. Remember the hundred-page contract you agreed to when you signed up with ATT? Remember the sixty+ page contract you agreed to when you signed up for iTunes? No? Neither does anyone else because the only people who read that crap are lawyers. But the lawyers have assured me that you have 1)consented to the transmission of your data 2)agreed to pay ATT every month for whatever they charge you for and 3)agreed to a ridiculous ETF if you cancel -for whatever reason – before your contract expires.
      Of course, you could figure out how much money you’d save by switching to Verizon with an unlimited data plan (and better service) and compare that to how much it’ll cost you to continue paying for your personal data to be sent to ATT/Apple.

  21. Gianni Simplicio says

    The night time data uploading appears to be linked to the install of iOS4.x. I thought it was linked to the emergence of tiered data plans from ATT, but my father’s account was downgraded to the 200mb plan months ago and none of these uploads appeared until he upgraded from 3.0.1 to 4.1. In fact, the upload began IMMEDIATELY after he upgraded (adding a neat 45mb of use, regardless of the presence of a wifi network). Additionally, it seems that iOS4.x is designed to send this diagnostic information on a nightly basis, or as soon as the phone is reconnected to the network. So if you turn you phone off at night, it will simply send it when you turn it on in the morning.

    Has anyone investigated whether the upgrade to iOS4.x on iPod/iPad devices is also sending diagnostic information? Does anyone know what is included in this information? Is this a potential security problem for the numerous corporations and government agencies like the Pentagon that have begun using iOS devices?

  22. siri says

    I am in second month of iphone 200MB data plan. For the first 28 days my usage was 95 MB and on 29th day at 12:05 AM my usage is 206 MB. That too ‘sent’ data only. This is driving me crazy. I called AT&T and all they can mumble is iphone is always updating. What is it updating and why the data is ‘sent’ if it is updating?

  23. davek says

    I have WiFi at work and home and I am showing random data usage of up to 160MB sent at night while I am sleeping. My wife’s phone had 1 day where it spiked over 1G sent in one night. She had to change from the 200 MB plan to the 2G plan and we still paid a penalty for the overage. I contacted ATT 6 times with no explanation. Everyone should contact the BBB to let them know. Verizon is probably not the only phone company overcharging their customers.

  24. jose says

    I think I have found a solution. Plug in your phone and let Itunes sync. Right click on your phone and go down to reset warnings. Hit the re-sync icon and you will get a pop up on participating with apple by sending diagnostic data. Select no thank you and don’t ask again. Disable any apps you have set to push and apps that are on location services. Double click home key and hold down any open apps till you get the the dash to close it. Close any apps that are running that aren’t needed. Check on data for one or two days to make sure you aren’t getting anymore phantom messaging, if so disable the data setting. I hope this helps give it a try see if it works if it doesn’t disable data as soon as possible so you don’t go over your data plan.

  25. Daniel says

    Same problem with Blackberry Torch. I just got the email, 10 days into my billing cycle, that I have used almost all of my 200 MB. All I do is CNN,Drudge, ESPN app, Facebook, etc. No streaming audio or video, nothing. And I’m already into this for 150 MB in 10 days. I think AT&T has a serious software bug in its data use calculations. Seems to be spread across a variety of devices (judging from the comments here), so it can’t be specific to a single phone.

  26. Chris says

    Don’t get me wrong I love my iPhone but these days I can’t afford to keep going over when I know for a fact I’m not using data. I understand updating information. What I don’t understand is how you can justify charging your customer almost all of the mb. in there 200 mb plan and say it’s for updates. So if AT&T is doing that am I paying 15 for a plan that allows my phone to update but I can’t use it for my own purposes or I will go over. I have two iPhones one for me which has unlimited data and one for my girl which has 200mb. Iv been charged over every month on her plan. She couldn’t explain it , but I think I understand now. …… Isn’t this what class action lawsuits are for???????

  27. Kevin says

    Same problem in Westfield, IN. Strong in home wireless network and iPhone 4 has wireless icon showing instead of 3G. We are getting large late night usage, when the phone never leaves the home network. No help from two reps who provide incorrect information saying, “we must manually select wireless networks each time we use.” Even the bottom of the wireless setup page on the iPhone states that “known networks will be joined automatically.” No explanation of the charges.

  28. Michael says

    Hi All,

    Intresting thread;

    Simialar situation happening in Ireland with Iphones on Vodafone network. Only we are talking in GB’s here not, MB’s. Have seen some large charges racked up.

    Is there any chance it is podcasts updates etc?

  29. Fred says

    Exact same problem and not only at night. AT&T says I’ve used 517 Mb in 5 days, even though my iPhone’s settings say I’ve used 40 Mb. For the three months before that, total, both my phone AT&T agreed I’d used 450 Mb. Total. Something VERY fishy going on. Cust svc l was useless. An AT&T store manager gave me a $30 credit (for 2x $15/200Mb overage charges) but still couldn’t figure out what all the data use is or how to stop it.

    Keeping “Cellular Data” setting off stops it. But I just turned it back on to check one visual voice mail and in a few minutes, AT$T’s My Account showed another 2Mb usage, even though I’m on Wifi, my phone’s settings don’t show usage, and no apps are on except voice mail and AT&T my account.

    This is NOT normal billing, it’s 24-7, and we ARE being charged for it. Somebody with AT&T’s ear, or a media platform, stop accepting their false answer, and draw attention to what’s REALLY going on!!!

  30. Fred says

    Since my last post two days ago, I’ve kept the “Cellular Data” setting turned off, so in theory, my iPhone can ONLY access the internet via WiFi. I downloaded “Dataman” to track usage, and I’ve kept the phone 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 their on-line myWireless says I’ve used an additional 90Mb (now totalling 607 Mb in a week), even though Dataman says I’ve used 7 Mb of Wireless and 0 Mb of cellular data.


  31. Cody says

    I’m on the 200mb plan, didn’t even touch my phone and somehow went threw 240MB within 1 freakin hour. And all they can tell me is to upgrade. Check this out below:
    11/29 08:18 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 260KB
    11/29 07:18 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 240021KB <——- Tell me how?
    11/29 06:04 PM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 96K

  32. Sean says

    Same/similar issue in our house: Great WiFi router-cable modem. iPhone 4 & HTC Aria that hardly ever leave the house or not on WiFi. No streaming done, only Facebook, Twitter, and some Angry Birds. Today at 7am, I got the 65% of 200MB text. Then at 5pm I got the 90% text. WTF? The phone went with me to run errands for about 2 hours in the afternoon. Other than that, it was about 4 feet from my WiFi router the whole day. It spends 99% of it’s time (the Aria) on my desk right next to the router. AT&T has an issue here. I called them, they credited my account $30 (15 for me and 15 for my wife)– they are going to trace our account for several days and call me back– or so they say. I think I will just shut my phone off every night from now on.

  33. Jamie says

    Just spent over an hour on the phone with AT&T today and more last night chatting with rep. I have an HTC Aria and came home from London with over $800 in international data usage! I didn’t connect to the internet once while I was there…I knew better. Strange that two days it was at the same time. I also notice on my bill that I am getting data usage charges at the same time for 5 days in a row??? AT&T rep says some app is updating automatically on my phone but can’t help me with how to solve the issue, suggests calling HTC. I am SO fed up at this point. I was lucky enough to have most of those charges taken off by adding an international data plan and backdating it but still, I won’t keep paying for something I’m not using.

  34. David says

    Here’s something of interest with ATT and charges. I have an old razor and do not have access to the web or the ability to send or receive images. My wife has a newer phone, but it is not a smart phone nor does it have interenet. We call and send a few texts here and there. We were recently on a cruise. Once the ship left the dock, we turned off our phones and put them in the safe. Figured if an emergency, my family could contact the ship. Turned on our phones the morning we got back and checked our voice mail. We got a bill in December for over $1000. There were 322 calls charged at $2.49 each on our bill. Some of these occurred 4 at a time from Midnight till usually 6am. Still battling with ATT on this.

    • Jason LI says

      I believe in the settings there is a way to turn off roaming with respect to data. I just went to my phone to make sure that setting is indeed set OFF. I am sure you’ll succeed with your dispute with AT&T. It is incumbent on them to prove that you used the phone to support those outrageous charges. A good alternative in the future is to rent a phone with a European prepaid SIM. You can actually buy them online. If you happen to own an unlocked GSM phone, then all you’ll need is one of these prepaid SIMS so you’ll have no surprises after a nice trip. If your iPhone is unlocked you can even use the SIM that way too. Unfortunately, I’ve heard way too many stories regarding billing issues while traveling abroad. It makes you wonder what REALLY is going on. All the best in your fight with AT&T. Hopefully they’ll do the right thing.

  35. Debbie says

    I am having a somewhat similar problem with my 2 month old iphone 3gs. Unless I have cellular data turned off, my phone happily sends small bits of data info approx every 10 minutes – these are small 5-10kb, but they add up.

    I spoke with Apple, and they had me do a complete restore of phone, and start adding back apps one at a time. I currently have NO apps on phone except for what came pre-installed, and it is still doing it.

    I think it may be doing this around the times I make or receive a phone call – anyone else?

    • ipek says

      I am living in Turkey, and having the same problems with my Iphone 3GS on Vodafone for 2-3 weeks. It is sending data constantly, and it seems that I used up my 1GB limit in 3 days! When I turn on the cellular data just for 5 minutes, it uploads 85-90 MBs of data to an unknown place. I only use “Edge” technology, not 3G, so this amount of data transfer is impossible with that speed. When I contacted Vodafone and Iphone, they recommended me a full restore but I don’t want to loose all my photos and music. Can anyone has better a solution?

  36. Greg Newman says

    Thank you for writing about this issue, and for all the comments. I thought I was crazy, but I can see I am not the only one experiencing this issue. My calls to AT&T have yielded no satisfactory answers. I will keep trying, and if I learn anything useful I will post it.

  37. todd says

    I have you all beat…I ROAM overseas with the phone, pay for data and find that after a few days, I blow through the data. Like many of you, I turned the phone off most of the time, so it’s a simple brick….but my roaming rates are HUGE. I thought it was only an iphone 4 after I received the update to usage doubled from previous months.

  38. Nikolaos Abatzis says

    Hi all,

    I am going through the same ordeal. Do not know if it will help but you can opt out from advertising data that Apple collects in order to better target you with ads. This is very interesting as it is about he same time that a lot of the night usage started. Of course the volume of data is completely unacceptable. If this is the case how can you blow away my data plan for your data collection …

    The link to opt out is,

    Hope this helps and happy holidays.

    P.S. I also filed a complaint with FCC for AT&T

  39. David says

    I had same problem today I find out that in just 6hrs while 2 of the hours I’m on my home wifi connection that o burned through my 2gb of data plan that I have. How is this possible I’ve had the phone for less than two weeks. I’ve called them twice finally got Case made but they have no awnsers for me I plan to file a complaint cause this is just stupid, an I was told that I’m already going to be over another gb of data an for what checking my email on my wifi?

    • Cody says

      I posted on this website around the first of December. And AT&T still refuses to credit any money to my account bc they say the charges are valid. VALID? I went threw 240,000 KB (240 Mb) in 10 minutes on a Wifi Connection. Not to mention that if I wasn’t connected to Wifi that I would be on Edge. Edge cannot even process 240 Mb in 10 minutes. They tell me my iPhone is always updating. I would understand that if the charges were consistent, but they are not. It is at odd times when I know I am not using my phone. I am at work on a WiFi connection. Also they told me that once your iPhone screen goes into sleep mode that it automatically disconnects from any Wifi connection until you click the home button again, then it re-connects to the Wifi?? What a load of s**t. Verizon & Apple just announced that Verizon will have the iPhone come Feb, I think I will be checking out my options. I’ll pay the 300 concel fee if it saves me 1,000$ in the long run.

  40. DB says

    Something that I found out recently may help some of you. When your phone goes into sleep mode it is set to stop using Wifi since the phone is “not in use”. The other featues, such as e-mail etc. will still download data but since Wifi has been shut off on the phone it is applied to your data plan. The only method I found to fix this was to jailbreak and install an app that keeps the wifi active even when the phone is asleep.
    On some phones the e-mail is downloading the entire message, which if friends are sending pictures / movies / pdf’s will use up your data quickly. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be a way to keep Wifi active on the phone unless you jailbreak it.

  41. TMH says

    My wife has had the same problem with data being downloaded in the middle of the night. We both have iphone4 and she uses it mainly to check emails and text. I on the other hand am on the internet ALL the time. My wife has the monthly 200mb data plan and I have the the unlimited plan(the old plan before AT&T changed it). The interesting part is that my phone does NOT have the spikes in data down loads at all. Hmmm, funny how my phone shows “normal” data usage and my wife’s will have spikes on the data so that she will incur over usage charges. I am so mad and I wish I know what we consumers can do, because I truly believe that AT&T is totally is stealing money from us.

  42. Elmer says

    Same thing here. My partner just got a Blackberry Torch and, while it’s not eating up scads of data, it is sending anomalous packets of up to about 100K a shot, but a few times it’s shown up a bigger 1MB transmission. Again, nothing major, not like some of you guys and your 100+MB transmissions but… he doesn’t have any push emails or updates or anything going to the phone. Any thoughts? Especially on anything you guys might suggest to turn off and stuff.

    We’re trying to gauge the phone usage just to be sure that the plan we have ($15/200MB) is right for him.

  43. Jenny says

    I have an iphone4 with 200MB plan, I have a home wifi with very good signal I always monitoring my internet usage, it shows that it counts against my data plan most of the time. I used more than 200MB with home wifi connection ,I called at&t and credited $15 for over usage. I got my phone on Oct2010 since then I keep calling At&t and complaining about this issue,even if the cellular data has been turned off, when you turned it on, it does the same thing. This is the third month start of the billing cycle, At&t Rep. said I only used a very little amount of internet so there’s nothing to worry so they credited another $25 in advance just in case I excedeed to 200MB, But for me, that’s not the point they have to do something or they have to fix this problem especially not only one person is compalining about this issue,Do I have to call them every month for over usage and be credited again. I am tired of calling them and talking about the same issue with them. This is so ridiculous!!!! they cannot even fix the problem they rather give a credit every month than to solve the problem.

  44. MasonM says

    Same here also today is when I went over. So today in the afternoon I checked me dada usage (like I do very regularly to ensure that I don’t go over) and it said I had used 125Mb then my wifi was slow so I switched it to 3G for a couple videos on YouTube which is at the most 1Mb of usage (no where close to 75Mb) then I switched it back so I don’t go over then I left my phone untouched for hours. So while I’m using my iPad (apple fan NOT RICH lol) I see my iPhone 4 light up on the table across the room and make a text tone so then I go see who it is and low and behold it’s at&t telling me I went over so now I’m at 206.1Mb (I WILL DEFINITLY MONITOR IT OVER NIGHT TONIGHT) this problem will be solved.

  45. jane says

    I am having the same problem too- spent two hours on the phone between ATT and Apple- both denying responsiblity and admitting they had no idea what was happening. It was suggested that I turn off the 3G at night to force wifi back on if there is a data dump. I prefer the “jailbreak” idea of an app that keeps the wifi on while the phone is asleep.
    Does anyone know how to do that??

  46. Louis says

    Same problem. And the same run around from both communications giants.

    I’ve contacted every news agency I can with details and prints of this and other discussion boards. We must remember that the consumer should be responsible for demanding that their products and services be accurate and legal.

    I urge you all to DO SOMETHING tangible in writing to every news agency you can.
    And CC the CEO’s of both AT&T and Apple

    Thank you.

  47. Mike says

    I printed out the data usage on my wires cell phone, and took it to the AT&T store. Explained to the sales rep what was happening. He then initiated a call to AT&T customer service where I told them to pull up my account, I thoroughly explained what was going on and told them that I’m not paying for the data overage and to credit me back ANYTHING over my 200MB. Especially the night of Dec27 where MediaNet downloaded 185423 kb, thats 181 Mb!! Shortly after midnight. After being on hold while the phone rep was talking to the supervisor, she came back and suggested that I purchase the 2GB plan. (slimy). I emphatically and calmly stated that I’m not paying AT&t or Apple or anyone for downloading anything from my iPhone without my permission and at my cost and to immediately remove these charges. In which she did.

  48. Chucky says

    I filed a complaint on line with the better business bureau and got their attention. Someone from the presidents office has been looking into the complaint going on 2 months now. She has credited my account for the usage over 200 mb but has not come up with any explanation. I suggest everyone file a complaint with the bbb. Its easy and only takes about 2 minutes. I got a response within
    in a week of filing. I have 3 iphones that for 18 months never went over the 200 mb while we were on the unlimited plan then when I switched to the 200 mb plan we started running over do to late night data usage and data usage while we were home with wifi. The same complaint as everyone else.

  49. Ben says

    Unfortunately, there are a VAST number of smart phones that have become and can be used as zombies. And it is also unfortunate who is behind it.

  50. William Parberry says

    I have just exactly the same problem, which began this billing cycle (from around 12/27/10 to 1/22/11). One single 12:00 AM Media Net charge on 1/15/11 was 173 MBs on my wife’s phone – she was asleep at the time. We have three phones in the family plan, and the charges are also occurring regularly between midnight and 1 AM on all of them. In prior months we never came close to using 200 MB on each of the phones, so something has changed with how AT&T is charging for or creating data usage.

  51. Chaz says


    I am having the same problem on my wife’s iPhone 3GS. A few days ago, it downloaded/uploaded 85MB.

    I’m going to call AT&T

  52. jb says

    Same is happening to me. I bought my wife an iPhone 4 for her birthday. Used 100mb before I gave it to her. Called ATT, they said it was Apple doing it. I called Apple and they said to turn off data roaming. I went to do this and it was already turned off. Back to square 1.

  53. weiqi zhang says

    same happened to my wife’s blackberry torch. there were huge spikes in data usage during the late night and sometime during the day time. we called at&t several times and got no answer at all. and we were charged for that extra usage.

    We are trying to figure out what’s going on so apps are being removed one by one and see how this impact data usage.

  54. WP7 user says

    This happens in the tune of 2-11 mb every night around the same time with my samsung focus wp7 phone. It also happens with my wifes palm pixie. It is very strange and att is transmitting some sizable data from our phones. the question is what?

  55. DB says

    It is not gmail. I’ve had my iPhone since June 2010 and have used gmail on it from the beginning. I never went over 130 of my 200 MB/month even when camping with no wifi for 17 days. All of a sudden, this month, I hit 60% data usage halfway through my billing cycle and went over a few days later. A few more days, and I hit 330 MB, after telling AT&T that I would use no more data that month – and I did not!

    I am on wifi 99% of the time, and never stream anything anyway. The only thing I could connect this to is that after receiving an email from AT&T touting their MyATT app, I downloaded it and used it to check my data usage. Even so, unless they have coded it to deliberately upload data in huge amounts, it should not have caused the problem. NOTE here – Any ATT app will always use their 3G, even when your phone is on wifi. That was not disclosed and I only found out when talking with tech support about this problem.

    I checked my usage online and found multiple sends of large amounts of data at various hours of the day, some of which occurred when I was home and on wifi. No receives were listed at all, which is weird, because I do check my email while out and on 3G. Something really stinks to high heavens here and it’s AT&T. They agreed not to charge me this month, but if it happens again, I’m filing complaints with the BBB and my state Attorney General’s office.

  56. RSS says

    I just discovered same issue. I was on unlimited plan, and when I purchased my iPhone 4, I was told (incorrectly) that I had to choose either 200MB or 2GB because I could not keep my unlimited plan.

    Since December, I have seen my usage jump from a typical of 300-500MB up to 700-800MB for several months, and then in the past few months, over 1GB. This month, I received an alert telling me I was at 1.4GB. I have not significantly altered my usage patterns. I thought maybe it was from using Pandora the past few days, but then I looked at the bill and realized that the charges, in 50-100MB chunks, had been occurring consistently throughout the month, and were not related to the past few days of Pandora.

    Hopefully some of the changes I’ve made based on suggestions on here will help.

  57. Sue says

    I’m guessing and hoping this may be causedby the Feedback setting. You can’t actually physically send feedback…that means your PHONE must be sending the feedback. Usually for me those large transmissions are at 1 am. I shut Feedback off from the settings on my Samsung Focus Samsung should pay my upcharges. They are in collusion with ATT – I very much like the idea of filing a complaint with the Attorney General.

  58. RMP says

    my dad has this problem. he’s going thru 200MB every 7 days. att tech support was less than worthless. suggested upgrade. NO WAY is he using 200MB a week. he checks the weather on it for 2min a day. thats literally it. yet att accuses us of using youtube, pandora, etc etc etc that we are not doing.

    any fix yet??

  59. iphone4owner12 says

    Meh all i can say is WTF is up with iPhone data packages? i have the freaking unlimited data plan and i was traveling a few days ago so i watched netflix till my battery was low and when i was on the plane i used the on-board WiFi feature while having my phone in flight mode(mind you i watched 70% of god knows what i was watching on netflix while on the plane using WiFi). only to wake up the next day to a text message saying that I’ve used 65% of my overall data monthly package stuff when i was ON WIFI…
    can someone elaborate what this means cause I’m 1 angry call away from leaving at&t

  60. Tony says

    Similar problems. I upgraded to a Blackberry Torch on June 24th, having had no data plan on older phone. I do not browse or download or in any way use internet option and it is also connected to my WIFI at home. Fortunately it is shut off overnight. I signed for 200MB plan. In 10 days phone says I have used almost 40MB. HOW???? Had phone off from 12:30 to about 6:00PM today. Turned it on ., let it sit 5 minutes, checked data use and it tells me I used another 1.1MB between time I shut it off and the 5 minutes it was turned back on and data use rechecked! This is wrong! WE SHOULD NOT BE CHARGED THE DATA USE THAT ATT OR PHONE VENDOR IS MAKING PHONE USE WITHOUT US EVEN KNOWING!

  61. Dante says

    It’s not a problem, except when this random occurrence causes you to go over your limit, resulting in overages. In fact, I don’t even get the warnings AT&T says I will when approaching my limit, besides the 65% notice (I have an iPhone 3GS). I just randomly get a text that says I have reached my limit and am being charged for data overages. And this is when I’m not even using my phone, and it doesn’t only happen late at night, but at any time. Any ideas? Should I just talk to my service provider?

  62. Hawk says

    I suggest to see what apps and radios you have turned on and see if you can pinpoint what is getting transmitted. I know that every time I turn on my phone, I use a few kb of data. It’s apparently my phone “checking in” with the AT&T Network. It’s only a few kb, so it doesn’t concern me, but if that happens a lot throughout a day, I can see where it can get up to MB and start eating up data.
    Charge your phone up reboot and then reset the usage meter. Let the phone sit for a while with the usage meter showing and have the screen set to never go to sleep. If your phone is transmitting while sitting there, that can be a problem- depending on how often and how much.

  63. Billy Joe Bob says

    Omg…Same Problem for me…Its soo annoying…I thinks it the apps…so when I’m not using my phone or I’m playing apps…I put it in airplane mode…

  64. smartperson says

    iphone is a smartphone, everything in the phone is internet based and almost everything in the phone along with most apps auto update or refresh constantly. Also there is lag time between when data usage occurs and when it hits the billing system. It’s that simple! there are only 2 options turn the data completely off in the settings or stop being ridiculous and spend the extra ten bucks on the 2gb plan. There is no conspiracy here, and that fact that you will keep paying overages instead of getting on the right plan shows your level of intelligence for what it is!

    • Mike says

      Hey “”SMART”person……. there IS something wrong here.

      I downgraded in Dec 2010, from the unlimited-unlimited plan that I first got way back in 2008. That was when unlimited WAS truly unlimited. Up through 2010 my average usage was well under 150MB. Thats all. I dont use this phone like many others. I dont stream, I dont play online games, whatever. I used about 125-135MB each month. Then, in January 2011 I get a message saying that I am at 75% of the plan AND ended up a few MB just under 200MB for usage that was IDENTICAL to the previous 18 months? AND, since then I worry that this phantom night time data usage is going to push me over 200MB and — read this carefully: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY TO RECONCILE MY USAGE AGAINST THEIR SO-CALLED ‘BILLING’ METHODS.

      It doesnt matter if I use an app or if I check my usage each day – the point is, after downgrading my average usage is now 185MB per month? I find that very hard to believe especially when I spent most of Feb-May in the hospital. I used voice, text/SMS, but little to zero data and if I DID check my email, it was on the hospital’s WIFI.

      So, yes, there IS something unexplained going on. AND, before you begin insulting people for matters of which you have ZERO knowledge of, “SMART”person, I suggest you use your BRAIN first. Make sure your brain puts your mouth in PARK, and takes time to THINK before you type off the next insult to people. Some people have no reason to be paying the extra $15 (not $10, “SMART”person) per month for a data plan they’re not taking advantage of – so why not downgrade? “SMART” people dont pay a penny more than they need to pay for anything.

      I wont call it a conspiracy. Instead, I call it piss poor billing practices from one of the largest telecoms in the world. People need to ask why data is reported as SENT only. Doesnt a phone receive data too? WHY cant it be reported together? WHY does it wait until night time to send MORE DATA to the mother ship? WHY doesnt it use WIFI if the phone is currently set up for use on WIFI? I dont believe any of this 2-day lag BS either. Whatever data usage that I incur gets reported at the moment of the data AND 100 to 150% more than that amount gets transferred later that night around 12:51AM like clockwork. If I dont use data on a particular day, there is no 12:51AM phantom upload to the mothership. I dont have location services turned on for anything. I dont use notification services. I hardly use more than email. I barely browse with Safari. Maybe 2-3 times per month if that.

      SO……… so-called “SMART”person…….. chew on that for a while. People are pissed off and rightfully so. I suggest that, instead of insulting them, try to be more helpful or go back into your mom’s basement and keep playing your xbox.

  65. Andrea says

    That is not true – my phone’s moonlighting has put me over my data limit, which means I had additional charges – granted, when I called, I immediately received a credit, so I’m not out any money, but if I had not called, I’d be paying for this.  The rep I spoke with had no explanation for this occurrence.

  66. bboyromeo says

    This is happening to my gf on her iPhone 3GS on the fido network in Canada. Fido keeps saying “oh well you must be downloading movies or music” excuse me?? Your telling the customer what they are doing? And I had one guy I talked to, when I talked to fido for my gf, tell me when I asked for a supervisor there was no one there, wtf is that no supervisor to escalate to? Ive worked at a call center before and there is always a manager on duty or someone to escalate to, fido your a piece of shit!!

    As well she received notice she was at 75% of her usage and then a few days later gone over 100% wtf she’s not even using it that much! With her history with fido her cell data has never gone over or even got close to 100% which is 6GB btw, and fido isn’t doing jack shit about it. I believe that turning your cell data, resetting your phone is bullshit, there are ppl using these phones as zombie phones and stealing the cellular data. I don’t know how they are doing it but I’m sure that’s what’s going on. Not even being synched with tour provider late at night to transmit data about your usage can take up so much data!! That at max should be a couple hundred kbps! There is definitely something wrong and instead of your provider blaming you or the phone they should look outside the box and look into who or what this data is being used for! This is fucking ridiculous!

    If ppl used to be able to use ghost phones and not be traced ppl can be stealing your data!

    To all the providers fix this!!!

  67. Mike says

    OK I’m on AT&T and very quickly encountered a late night problem. Now I’ve got an android phone so this may or may not be applicable. I have wifi at home and my phone is configured to use it. I did a little testing streaming audio with wifi turned on and wifi turned off. As expected the data usage showed up for stream when wifi was turned off and didn’t when wifi was turned on. I figured I would be safe with the 200MB plan since there is wifi almost everywhere I go and being the IT guy at these locations I have all the access keys.

    After two weeks I’m at 45MB of usage. While playing with ways to put my new toy to use I decided to listen to NPR as I went to sleep… After two nights I’m suddenly over my 200MB usage.

    After some useless time with AT&T phone support, trolling some bulletin boards, and more experimenting (and upping my data plan to 2G) I discovered my phone turns off wifi when it “sleeps”… NPR was still streaming away in the background only now the screen and the wifi were off and it was using 3G. There’s no reason for this as the phone was plugged in so there’s no need to save power.

    Anyway I hope this helps.

  68. PRECIOUS says

    I beg to differ the late night internet usage can cause you to go over your internet usage. I have recently gone over my internet usage while i was sleeping. When i looked into the bill it showed a mass amount of data being sent to my phone while i was sleeping 3 days in a row causing me to go over. Now i am force to cut off my data at night, which is ok, unless someone sends me a mms then i cannot get it :( Please dig further into this because it is costing a few of us in the long run.

  69. Thomas says

    I have the Samsung Focus and left my phone off from 5:00 Saturday to 5:00 Sunday and the moment I turned it in it said I had gone 100% over then it said I had gone 75% over the next set of 200 MB. I’m about to call AT&T, I hadn’t touched my phone and was at the 65% when I turned it off, I thought I was the only one who had to deal with this.

  70. Acro Zapan says

    on iphone 4, even if phone is shut off at night, data at midnight still shows up on AT&T billing.  I complained, they credited me for one month (had 200MB plan, went over, had to go up to  2G plan)
    August used 14 mb
    September used 10mb
    October used 197 MB

    Coincidence?  NO, new IOS5 came out in October.  Never had a problem before that.

    Now AT&T says I have to pay the extra $$ for the 2G data plan from now on.

    No way I’m using data at midnight, when phone is shut off

  71. Lisa says

    I agree Acro!  New IOS came with iCloud.  That program does do “midnight” downloads.  Turned it all off and data usage almost completely stopped.  I just deleted completely today and hope to see this insanity end.

  72. Anglea says

    My mom is receiving these charges as well and they ARE CHARGING HER FOR THEM!!! They have all occurred while she is asleep and IS CONNECTED TO OUR WIFI!! They are trying to tell her that she is using the phone but we have gone through and shut everything off. All she uses it for is to make calls and texts. She no longer uses the weather, email, Facebook, Google, etc… and yet she is still receiving these charges! She has gone over her data plan and almost over the next data plan higher without using any of the apps on her phone besides to make and receive calls and texts!

  73. Matt says

    I’m dropping att today unless they can really hook it up. People need to be able to view their “up to date” usage so they can monitor their usage correctly and not go over!!! I’ve just begin to notice the late night charges..

    The first day of my new month this month I woke up and already had 142 MB, I called they said it was from the 20th and didn’t register until the 21st. But the 21st is my new month why should I pay for usage from last month this month?

    Today i woke up and had three pop-up messages of my IPAD2. “you have reached 75% of your data allowance,” “you have reached 90% of your data allowance,” and finally my personal favorite, “You have reached 100% of your data allowance, and are now incurring overage charges.”

  74. Mike says

    AT&T will eventually be on a commercial advertising a lawsuit. You will get about 3 bucks and some atty will get several million and AT&T will still come out ahead. Can’t blame them for gaming a broken system. The best thing you can do is call every month on the end of billing cycle and over when them with angry callers. Eventually they will lose you as a customer or they will fix it.

  75. says

    My wife and I have had AT&T for a year, she has an IPhone, I have HTC Inspire.. no problems with the 200Mb plan.. we purchased a third phone on our plan for our daughter, and HTC Aria I think it is.. the first 2-3 months, no problems, never even came close to going over our data plan, since the beginning of 2012, 4 days into the month I get the “overage” message. AT&T customer service is useless.. I filed a BBB complaint, someone from the executive response team called and told me that my daughter was lying about her usage.. then when I told her that I took the phone to make sure that she wasn’t, she said.. “well obviously, there are some apps still running and constantly updating”.. okay, then if apps are updating, why is the data being SENT from her phone versus being RECEIVED?? I finally hung up on her and filed a complaint with the FCC.. I’m going to one of their brick and mortar stores and make a store manager explain to my face what’s going on.

  76. Collin says

    Multiple times I have woken up or been watching tv when my phone texts me that I’m almost out of data plan when I dont use it-_-
    I’m always on my wifi and I’ll wake up only to fine that at&t is f*****g me over

  77. Collin says

    Multiple times I have woken up or been watching tv when my phone texts me that I’m almost out of data plan when I dont use it-_-
    I’m always on my wifi and I’ll wake up only to fine that at&t is me over

  78. Frog This says

    I’ve been on the phone with ATT for the last 6 mo every month, getting my bill adjusted b/c I used up over 65% of my data plan by the 10th. Each month I call ATT, talk to a poor rep who gives me the same answers (Apple is downloading/uploading something, all I can do is give you a discount if you go over this month – a one time thing that has been done six times now). So today, I finally had my fill and started tracking down what was going on. Yes, my when my phone “sleeps,” it flips to 3G (which is ridiculous b/c ATT themselves in the text says to use WiFi – um why bother setting it to stay on if it doesn’t? That defeats the purpose). The first supervisor I got blamed me completely. Said totally my fault. It was all consistant with my usage. (Yea, every month for the last 6 months btwn the 1st and 10th I have consistantly HUGE internet data stuff sent while I sleep). She claimed that they collect all your 3g usage for the day and have it hit all at once (BULL-HOCKEY). They supposedly don’t do things in real time. Really? Why are there data usages of the same kind that are more reasonably sized at times that I KNOW I rec’d email b/c I set it up to only send me email when I ask for it? So then I hung up and called back. Got a different individual/supervisor who point blank told me he couldn’t explain it and I should do a restore. So I called Apple. After 55 min on the phone with them, they said do a restore then at the beginning of next month, go for a few days with my cellular data “on” at night then change to “off” for a few nights to determine if it software or network. So we’re playing the “blame” PONG game. Bouncing back and forth. Quite honestly, this is so ridiculous. I didn’t go thru this with my old iPhone. My husband’s iPhone (which is on the same program and has the same settings as mine – literally mirrored) doesn’t go through this. I’m so frustrated I can’t stand it.
    I even read the paragraph from the Gizmodo article about the fact that ATT is uploading their data for “accuracy” in the middle of the night and I still got blamed. I can’t even fathom what would be “sent” or “rec’d” from my phone at 11p when it and I are sleeping that would be 43000KB. And it’s definitely not from me using my iPhone during the day on WiFi!!! That all to say that every solution I’ve read about, heard about from ATT, etc hasn’t worked so far. I’m doing a restore now. If that doesn’t work, I have no idea what the next step is. I just don’t think I should have to pay for data I DID NOT send/rec by my choice! ATT is clueless how to stop this – or at least their supervisors are. Sigh.
    One final note: ATT can’t tell me what is being “sent” b/c they don’t keep records of that (yeah, right) b/c of privacy issues. Really? OK. So, they can’t be busted for this b/c they don’t keep records? I’m not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I really feel like somewhere someone said “Hey, let’s nail all those grandfathered 200MG users so they HAVE to upgrade to cover what we’re doing to them.” After all, that’s the most feasible solution reps or supervisors can come up with.

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