Users warned about large bills for downloading data, as major updates are due for tomorrow

News by Dan Raywood

Users are encouraged to download updates over a fixed network and not via a 3G dongle.

Users are encouraged to download updates over a fixed network and not via a 3G dongle.

Tomorrow will see Microsoft, Oracle and Adobe rolling out patches, but users have been urged to demonstrate caution when it comes to installing patches and updates. Simeon Coney, VP marketing at AdaptiveMobile, commented that when updates are done while users are connected via 3G dongles they could face huge bills.

Coney said: “Updates soak up huge amounts of data, and iTunes and Windows updates cause huge problems. Users have no idea it is going on so they are finding massive mobile data usage and they are looking at cost of when a user goes over their limit.

“You need to control updates as the computer doesn't know when it would be best to download. We work with providers and they don't understand content control.”

He pointed at volume demand for a recent iTunes update, which would account for £59.98 on Vodafone's standard pay as you go for Zone 2 and up to £600 on 02's monthly rates (at £6 per megabyte).

Coney claimed that often, the setting to automatically download updates can be changed, and in Windows 7 it is located in the settings, so you can set it up to tell you before it downloads but its default is set to download.

He said: “There are a lot of unpatched PCs out there, and hardware manufacturers are setting the updates as automatic, but not everyone is on a flat rate tariff. It's a fact that someone is using a mobile connection or is roaming abroad.”

A ruling by the European Parliament will mean that a text message sent from abroad in the EU will cost no more than €0.11 as of 1st July, instead of €0.28 today. The Parliament also voted for further cuts in the price of mobile phone calls while roaming in another EU country.

The present cap for a mobile phone call made abroad will progressively drop from €0.46 to €0.35 per minute by July 2011, and from €0.22 to €0.11 for mobile calls received while roaming abroad.

Carriers are also now required to introduce cut-off mechanisms designed to protect against ‘bill shock' when subscribers utilise data services while travelling throughout countries in Europe.

Digital Agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “Protection against data roaming bill shocks is a useful step towards building customers' confidence to use mobile networks to surf the internet when travelling around Europe. Such confidence is essential if people and businesses are to use the internet to its full potential."

Providers are required to offer their subscribers a monthly cut-off limit of €50, which will serve as the default after 1st July, although customers are also permitted to choose any other amount. A warning will be sent as the bill approaches 80 per cent of the chosen limit.

Coney welcomed this move, but commented that even with 50MB of data transferred that is still £25-30 in some countries.

He said: “You can disable it and there is very little users can do to stop it going on. It is down to mobile operators, as they have no view of the data so they rarely can tell what the download was, let alone the data.

“All they see is a volume of data so what they have to do is provide additional reporting information so you can have a sight of the data but to be proactive and control data you should suspend or postpone the update. Even in Windows 7 there is no concept of the network.”


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