This story sounds familiar:
Ian Simpson, 29, was sent the bill for four weeks’ service after wiring his mobile up to a laptop to download TV shows – and only then found out his £41.50-a-month deal didn’t include unlimited web use.
His bill with Vodafone was something like $54,000 US$.
Why familiar? Because AT&T (then Cingular) has the same deal. I never used my phone as a modem, but I did get hit with a large bill one month and was informed then that the charges would have been legit had I been using the phone as a modem (I wasn’t).
Vodafone owes this guy a break. If their policies are written anything like AT&T’s, then it’s anything but clear. On the other hand, it doesn’t appear as if he had an “unlimited” plan to begin with. Ouch.
I don’t see why providers can’t do what credit cards do when there are unusual spending patterns. They should be able to figure out what’s a “typical” usage pattern and if a user has a month that’s significantly off some sort of trigger is alerted. Maybe an automated email that says, “hey buddy, do you realize your bill is now 3x what it was last month?” would have been an expensive awakening but not nearly the ridiculous sum it ended up.
If you have a phone with a regular ‘ole data plan, just don’t do it…use your as a modem, that is. There are too many of these stories out there, and the providers are hit & miss on enforcing their murky policies against it.
If you do want to tether your phone to your computer and use it as a modem anyway, then do it sparingly. If you’re stranded somewhere and must get data on a server somewhere, fine. Not for casual surfing. In the long run, if you absolutely need to go online with your computer and don’t have reliable access points, I can say from personal experience that a decent EVDO modem & plan is well worth the $60/month for wireless-without-wifi Internet.