AT&T responds in a silly way to silly SMS charge claims

AT&T responds in a silly way to silly SMS charge claims
It shouldn't be news that SMS charges are one of the biggest scams that is accepted as commonplace. Recently, a writer at Gizmodo wanted to highlight that fact, and ended up getting AT&T to admit that its SMS charges are absurd. Of course, in order to really incur those types of absurd charges, you'd have to put in a whole lot of work.

So, the story goes that Ryan Kearney at Gizmodo saw that AT&T charges $.50 per SMS while roaming (incidentally, all 4 major carriers in the U.S. charge the same rate on roaming SMS messages, so targeting AT&T was Kearney's idea). Kearney then decided to do a little math, and came up with the number $3.3 million per GB of data sent over SMS while roaming on AT&T. Kearney tweeted this information, and that's when the insanity started. 

For a reason that we can't understand, an AT&T employee actually responded to Kearney's tweet to correct his math, saying, "actually 1 character in a msg equals abt 1 kb.1024KB=1MB..same conversion to GB-AT&T charges 19.97/mb or 120mb for $30 #fact". 

Bad Twitter grammar aside, AT&T's response makes no sense on a number of levels. First, the math is still a little suspect because "1 character in a msg" should not equal 1kb. Also, AT&T forgot to mention that sending that amount of data via SMS is nearly impossible, and completely impractical.

Kearney attempted to take his information to its logical extreme, in calculating that it would cost $35 million to send an HD movie over SMS while roaming on AT&T (which isn't even possible). And, he also went for a more "realistic" angle, by saying that you could theoretically hit that 1GB of data via SMS mark by sending 7.7 million text messages. That's not quite impossible, but if you did send that many texts, we'd suggest you see a therapist rather than bothering AT&T's accounts department. 

*this article has been updated 

source: Gizmodo



21. Sparhawk

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 10, 2012 The article above is a few years old (2008) but the prices haven't changed very much, so the info is still good: "At the 20¢ rate, sending a mere megabyte of information would cost more than $1,300." So, based on the 50¢ rate quoted in the Gizmodo article, one MB would cost 2.5 times $1300 = $3250. One GB would then be $3250 x 1024 = $3,328,000. So the Gizmodo article author just did the same math that Congress did in 2008. If you work for a site that specializes in technology, and you are that far behind Congress, you might want to reconsider your chosen field of employment.

20. Roomaku

Posts: 278; Member since: Feb 06, 2012

Screw At&t, and Verizon for no reason! I know the coverage is not that great but at least t-mobile and Sprint seem slightly less evil.

14. atlvideoguy

Posts: 75; Member since: Feb 24, 2012

Solution is simple. Don't open sms while visiting another country if you must sms, use google voice or text plus or some other online sms program from a hotspot.

25. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

Actually, if you're set up with a messaging bundle, received messages come from that bundle. However, sending a message, it sending or receiving calls (even if you don't answer it) count as roaming. At least AT&T's phones are world capable, unlike CDMA only phones

27. Jayray78

Posts: 13; Member since: Jun 01, 2011

Plenty of Verizon's CDMA phones have global roaming now.

28. Sparhawk

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

Their "CDMA only" phones can roam in like 40 CDMA countries. The rest either have GSM also, or LTE (which is actually a flavor of GSM) in order to roam in the rest of the world.

11. Galen20K

Posts: 585; Member since: Dec 26, 2008

Att is smoking the crack pipe...

13. whoisnetworkdood

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

no this author of the story is.

10. whoisnetworkdood

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

pay per use data - not sms is about 20.00/MB - if you include 160 characters in sms it does not even come close to 160 kb. sms charges and actual data use are different charges while roaming. MMS sent is 1.30, and you can send 600kb max per msg that way.

8. Sparhawk

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

Why would 1 character in a text take 1 kb (1024 bits)? That is ridiculous.

6. whoisnetworkdood

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

1 character in sms is not 1 kb.

4. Hotzb22

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 30, 2009

lol wrong $0.015/KB Canada $0.0195/KB Rest of World for data Pay-Per-Use Text messages: • Send: $0.50 • Receive: $0.20 or deducted from your domestic messaging package Picture/video messages: • Send: $1.30 • Receive: $0.30 or deducted from your domestic messaging package

7. whoisnetworkdood

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

this is for customers who roam in other countries - maybe they mean for those customers who roam on AT&T's network? Does not seem correct - the story info.

15. e.wvu unregistered

This is for people who ROAM.

16. Hotzb22

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 30, 2009

I'm a att rep. that is for roaming

3. whoisnetworkdood

Posts: 27; Member since: Aug 22, 2012

this info is totally


Posts: 701; Member since: Jun 07, 2011

I always thought that it was up to the country thats being visited to place the the roaming charge for their towers???

5. Sparhawk

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 10, 2012

Yes, but what the other provider charges AT&T, and what AT&T charges their customer, are often not the same thing.


Posts: 701; Member since: Jun 07, 2011

yea your right, but its not right to acuse AT&T of bieng to expensive until we know what the foreign carrier is charging.

24. Sparhawk

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 10, 2012



Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

It's not the carriers' fault; the blame really lies with the U.S. Government for allowing it. The same holds true when you try to use an "unlocked" device ( carrier or factory unlocked) on a U.S. carrier that said device was not intended for (use on), you get knocked down to 2G Edge, e.g., factory unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note N7000 will not get 3G on AT&T or T-Mobile. Then, the U.S. Government wants more by way of surcharges, excess fees, regulatory fees, 9/11 fees and taxes.

9. -box-

Posts: 3991; Member since: Jan 04, 2012

It's not just the government. In the US, carriers are in the service industry, as in "serve us"; they sell mobile products and services at rates that are commeasurate with it being a luxury item (which, if we're honest, it is), so they can charge whatever they want, especially if everyone else is doing it, and customers keep paying. Plus, there's little reason for a nationwide carrier to grant you specialized discounted rates for using someone else's network. They just collect the rates and pay the other network for your usage. With that in mind, there are agreements to get lower cost rates for international/roaming services

12. Rydsmith unregistered

No..just no, you make me want to hit your through the computer screen. You do NOT get bumped down to 2G/Edge because a phone is unlocked. You get knocked down because of the fact that the phone you purchased does not support the US AT&T or T-Mobile GSM bands. And then looking at the fees, these are needed. Employee at the FCC are not inspecting, documenting, and monitoring phones and networks for free; these all costs money. 9-1-1 operators and the maintenance that is required to keep the line running at ALL times is not free. Did you think before you typed that comment?


Posts: 2315; Member since: Jul 30, 2011

iDouble Dare you! And, you' re wrong; the N7000 will give you voice on AT&Taxation and T-iMobile but, each carrier, respectively, will block 3G data. You must work at the FCC (Federal Collections Company); iPay your salary - get to work.

23. rugby4fun

Posts: 8; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

The carriers do not block 3g because you are using an unlocked phone. The carriers care less than most people imagine about which phone you are using, they don't make a lot of money off of their phone sales. Their profits come from providing service, so it wouldn't make business sense for them not to provide service to someone paying for it if it was within their reach to do so

26. andygallo

Posts: 39; Member since: Oct 21, 2011

@PAPINYC Sorry, you're wrong. I helped my friend get her unlocked Sony Xperia P working on AT&T 3G. It has nothing to do with a carrier "block". There are two things that prevent you: 1) As stated before, the phone must first support the necessary 3G bands. 2) Then, you must configure your APN settings on the phone for the 3G to work.

19. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

1) its not the government's responsibility to step in and solve every problem. The free market will take care of it if it cares enough to do so. 2) your unlocked bit is not only completely wrong its ignorant. your 2g/3g is by radio compatibility. Carriers can do nothing about that. 3) first you say the government needs to step in, now your complaining because the government is stepping in too far. lol. Yea, there are lots of surcharges the govt likes to hide in your cellphone bill. Go read up on those charges, see which political party passed those charges, pay more attention, and go vote. Then that crap will stop happening. Every phone on contract now pays a surcharge to pay for some welfare guy's cell phone. Dont like it, get informed and vote.

22. thelegend6657 unregistered

Why are People obsessed about carriers in the USA ? Here no one gives a s**t about carriers they provided you with service that's all

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