Blogs » Digital Babble » Man charged $28,000 to watch football game online


Image An AT&T wireless customer was surprised by a huge bill he received after watching a Chicago Bears football game on his laptop.

The man was on a cruise ship in the Port of Miami, and he decided to catch the game while he waited for the boat to depart.

From Information Week:

In order to kill the time, he fired up his AT&T wireless modem, connected to his TV via Slingbox and enjoyed the Chicago Bears versus Detroit Lions football game. When he returned home, he was shocked to receive a bill for $28,067.31 in international data roaming charges.

How did this happen?

Despite being within range of AT&T's own network, his data card picked up the ship's cell phone network instead. Even though the cruise ship never left port, it is considered an international location (it connects to land-based networks via satellite), and incurred data roaming charges.


AT&T charges 2 cents per kilobyte for data roaming out of the United States. According to Information Week,  "at first, AT&T offered to knock the bill down to $6,000, which is still an outlandish sum, given the ship's wireless network should have been off (as is customary when in port)." Eventually, the Chicago Sun-Times helped argue the man's case and had the bill knocked down to $290.

 I'm preparing for a trip overseas this summer, and am trying to find what options are available for my cell phone service when I'm there. Has anyone had any experience with data plans when traveling to other countries?