Wireless data subscribers have felt uneasy about the charges they’re assessed by carriers and it seems they’ve got good reason for their suspicions. A recent UCLA study finds that users aere often charged for wireless data they never received.
The study, by computer science PhD. candidates at the university, also included successful efforts by researchers to hack into Domain Name System servers at two unnamed wireless carriers to be able to send data at no cost.
Data-plan subscribers are charged based on the used trafﬁc volume
in 3G/4G cellular networks. Researchers at UCLA conducted experiments to examine both this usage-based accounting architecture and application-speciﬁc charging policies by operators.
Their evaluation compared the network-recorded volume with the delivered trafﬁc at the end device. They have found that,
both generally work in common scenarios but may go wrong in the
They found that users are charged for what we never get, and can
get what they want for free.
In one extreme case, they were charged for at least three hours and 450MB or more data despite not eceiving
a single bit.
In another extreme case, they were able to transfer 200MB
or any amount specified for free.
The root causes, they conclude, lie in lack of both coordination between the charging system and the end device,
and prudent policy enforcement by certain operators.
The researchers also called for further study of the issue by the research community, noting that the data charging system used by U.S. wireless carriers “mostly works as a black box for users.”
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