iPhone 3GS sends out mysterious chunks of data after midnight

Something is amiss with data usage bills for AT&T customers who have an iPhone 3GS. A thread on MacRumors.com is reporting that bizarre data charges are being sent out in the early hours or the middle of the night when it’s not being used – via the 3G network even when home WiFi is switched on.

The first forums poster, hgraphics, put up a picture of the data detail. It had been sending out large packets, one as big as 6mb, for no apparent reason. Other users then weighed in – it had happened to them too. Poster “openkimono” called AT&T for an explanation but didn’t get one, instead the only suggestion from was to reset the network usage settings in the phone to confirm the amount of usage lines up with the bill, then to try a reset or full restore of the phone.

(Image credit to hgraphics at MacRumors forums)

Dagomike posted this data log, where again odd amounts of data were being sent out, including packets as large as 11mb when not in use:

06/01 02:34 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 3215KB

06/02 02:18 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 3450KB

06/03 02:01 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 10088KB

06/04 02:29 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 604KB

06/05 02:15 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 251KB

06/06 02:55 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 393KB

06/07 02:46 AM phone Internet/MEdia Net Sent 11180KB

Another user found his bill was 200mb over AT&T’s cap without him having used his phone at all. However, one member of the forums added up all of the bizarre sent data and found that he wasn’t charged for them on his bill: “I added up a few days of these (from 2 out of 4 pages of billing) and stopped when it exceed the total usage being shown on the account for the month. That is, my usage so far this month is showing as 67 MB. But I added-up more than 67MB of these daily transfers going through less than half the listings.” 

Poster closer1000 replies saying that the early hour data usage is “definitely included” in the billing total.

It seems AT&T may not be the only network with the issue. A UK user, Mac_Martyn, says that while out of the country, with data roaming turned off, he briefly turned it on to update a Facebook status then turned it straight off again. Checking the usage, it said he had used 21MB of data – expensive on roaming abroad.

O2 then sent a text saying there was over £50 of data usage to pay, debunking other’s posts that suggest it may just be data aggregating. O2 refunded the account.

What’s the story? We saw this on GDGT.com  and the full forum conversation on MacRumors can be viewed here