May 20, 2011, 10:57 AM — One of the major risks in complaining about how ISPs treat consumers on what's largely a site people use for work, is that those complaints might seem specious or irrelevant to the audience, at least while they're at work.
Internet connections to the home and those to small businesses largely fall into the same category, however, and so many people use home Internet connections to telecommute or connect their wireless devices to the office for updates, that I figure it's relevant.
I have no doubt of that when I run across a story three months after it first hit the news that reinforces the tendency of carriers – in this case AT&T – to be cavalier about the way they measure and charge for data, whether on wired or wireless networks.
If charges in a class-action lawsuit filed at the end of January are true, businesses whose employees use AT&T for iPhone or iPad connections are getting fleeced just as consumers lawyers filing the suit claim to represent.
Jan. 27 California attorney Patrick Hendricks that charged AT&T "systematically overstated" the amount of data iPhone and iPad customers used every month.
Bills routinely overestimated data use by between 7 percent and 14 percent, according to the lawsuit, though errors ranged as high as 300 percent.
AT&T said the charges show the people complaining don't understand how data is measured and billed for wireless use.
"Overcharges" mainly reflect apps that check for new weather, news or other information automatically, download updates automatically or do other things in the background that consumers may not realize.
AT&T will defend itself "vigorously," which usually means trying to settle before the case goes to court to minimize the PR impact, whether the charges are true or not.
The Today show ran a piece on it yesterday; so much for squelching the PR impact.
This is the same AT&T customers said in March is so inept at measuring the data they use on wired Internet connections that it underestimates data volume 90 percent to 100 percent one day, and overestimates data consumption 4,700 percent the next.