Research reveals weak mobile signals can lead to you being overcharged for smartphone data

Mobile phone company billing systems that do not properly account for weak signal strength can lead to users being overcharged by telcos for data, according to new research.

According to ExtremeTech, new research by UCLA professor Chunyi Peng shows that telco billing systems generally count the amount of data being transmitted by carriers, rather than the amount received by the end user.

This means that consumers end up being charged for data lost, due to interference or low signal strength, between a mobile phone carrier’s tower and their device.

In tests carried out on two leading American mobile phone carriers, representing more than 50% of the US market, Peng was able to demonstrate that a carrier sent over 450 million megabytes of unreceived data to a device in a low signal strength area.

While it is unclear whether Australian carrier billing systems have the same problems, the potential implications for Australian consumers are clear, with Telstra currently charging its users a Pay As You Go rate of $2 per megabyte or a 10c per megabyte excess usage charge for excess data use.

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