Study Shows Carriers Often Over- and Undercharge for Data
Sep 15, 2012, 4:09 PM by Eric M. Zeman
Researchers at UCLA have determined that wireless network operators are often unable to accurately account for all the bits sent over their networks to end-user devices and vice versa. The result of this inaccuracy can lead to customers being both overcharged for bits not received, as well as undercharged if the customer sends more bits than the carrier counted during a given billing period. The researchers note that overcharging most often occurs when the network sends bits to the cell tower that are then somehow not ever received by the end-user device. In one extreme case, the researchers observed 450MB of data sent through the network that never reached a cell phone. On the flip side, the researchers were able to send 200MB of data over the network that was not accounted for by the network operator. The bit-counting problems typically occur in areas where there is weak coverage, or when customers are streaming audio or video over the network. The researchers concluded that cell phone users in the U.S. are routinely overcharged by a nominal amount (5-7%) for data not actually received or used.
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