Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AT&T International Plan for my iPhone 5 and iOS 6

Today, I signed up for an International Calling Package for a Family Member for a short to Europe. AT&T continues to change their International Calling features and for this trip, my family member wanted to leave on her iPhone during the entire trip, check email, receive text messages and use her the iPhone for browsing the web. Here are the details:

1. AT&T International Plan Customer Service 1-800-335-4685 - I decided to call AT&T Customer Care rather than use the myAT&T App on my iPhone. In the past, the AT&T Customer Care Reps were very helpful and courteous.
  • AT&T World Traveler- $5.99 per month (calls in most European Countries and back to the United States are $.99 cents per minute)
  • AT&T Global Messaging -- They had plans for 50 messages-$10.00/200 Messages-$30/500 Messages-$50. These plans are for Sending Text Messages since Text Messages Received are covered under your current U.S. Plan. Some things to consider: 1) A $.35 cents per text message applies to overages; 2) Photos and Video Sent/Received will apply against your International Data Plan. 
  • AT&T Data Global Add-On for the iPhone -$30-120MB; $60-300MB; $120-800MB. These rates have decreased against since the last time I was abroad. That said, some of us in the U.S. are use to Unlimited Data Plans. AT&T bills this Data on a Monthly Plan so your vacation dates and the AT&T Billing Cycle will affect the pro-ration. In my case, the AT&T Rep back dated the Data Plan to the beginning of Billing Cycle and also inserted a Termination Date. This was a huge benefit that AT&T didn't previously provide, I no longer had to  remember to cancel the plan after the trip. In addition, see the example from a older blog below on how AT&T calculates the Data Plan Charges.  
  • Here's an Example: AT&T takes your total MB per month and divides by the number of days until the next billing period. If you travel started 1-day before your new billing period, then you would have 1.67 MB and $5.00 per MB for any overage. So if you used 3.67 MB the first day of your trip, you would be charged $59.99 / 30 days or $2.00 per day + $10.24 (2MB overage @ $5.12 per MB ) = $12.24. The second billing period you will be billed at $59.99 under the same formula. (Yes, it sounds complicated but worst case if you you pay$119.98 for two months for 50 MB iPhone data usage. (more later on data usage) In my case, the Rep back dated my contract 30 days so I had 7 days to use 50 MB which was more than enough.
2. Forwarding -- Before leaving the United States, I recommend forwarding calls to a Free Google Voice number. When someone leaves a voice mail message and you are Forwarding your calls to Google Voice, you receive a text message with a text transcript to your iPhone. This is a great feature.

3. iPhone Usage Reset Statistics - Before your plane takes off from the United States, Reset the iPhone Usage Statistics Settings: Settings > General > Usage > Cellular Usage: Reset Statistics

4. Location Services - Settings > Privacy > Location Services -- Before leaving, I would recommend disabling all Apps with Location Services using this setting. You can individually turn them on as you need them.

I would recommend turning off Location Services and Keep it Turned Off.

5. General Tips for Using your iPhone while Traveling Abroad

  • Use +1 or 001 when dialing U.S. Phone Numbers if the 10-digit phone number does not work from your iPhone Address book. 
  • +19168434685 is the phone number for AT&T International Care when you are abroad. There is no fee for this call. 
  • iPhone vs iPad -- During my last trip, I enabled a Data Plan for my iPad. With the larger Screen Size, the Data used was exponential more and I went through my Megabytes in several days. I would suggest enabling your iPhone instead. 
  • Wi-Fi - In your Hotel, make sure you get the user name and password for Complimentary Access during your check-in. 
  • Email - Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Fetch New Data Fetch: Manually - Make sure Fetch New Data is set to manual. Retrieve your Email in the Hotel Room using your Wi-Fi connection as often as you can. Use this time to send email with Photos or Video.  
  • Call Forwarding - Settings > Phone > Call Forwarding: On - Forward your Calls when you are traveling Internationally until you need use your phone. 
  • Text Messaging - Use text messaging. 
  • Friends - Notify your friends that like frequently call you or that Group Text Videos or Photos that you will be traveling abroad. 
  • Facetime - Skype or Google Voice - If you have a Wi-Fi connection, use one of these to call back to the States. For Skype and Google Voice, you will need a separate account. 
  • Location Services -- Turn off Location Services on each App before you leave the country.