Apple fixes data usage snafu on Verizon iPhone 5

Some Verizon iPhone 5 users were inadvertently being charged for data usage when they were actually on a Wi-Fi network. But Apple has come to the rescue with a software fix.

Apple issued a software update for the iPhone 5 on Verizon Wireless's network Sunday that will fix a problem that causes some Verizon iPhone 5 customers to use their Verizon data allotment when they they're connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Apple issued a the software update on Sunday and posted instructions for getting the update.

Apple

1. Tap Settings > General > About.

2. Wait for the following alert to appear:

3. Tap OK to install the update.

4. Hold the Sleep/Wake button down until you see "slide to power off".

5. Slide to power off.

6. After the device powers off, hold the Sleep/Wake button to turn your phone back on.

Note: To finish the installation of the update, your iPhone 5 must be turned off and then turned on again.

After your iPhone restarts, tap Settings > General > About, and then scroll down to Carrier and verify "Verizon 13.1? is displayed.

This problem was particularly irksome for Verizon Wireless customers who are now using the company's tiered service offerings. Verizon now requires any new customer to purchase a service plan that has a certain amount of data allotted each month. Earlier this summer it introduced a new Share Everything plan that allows multiple users to share the same data "bucket." The company eliminated its unlimited data plan for new customers last year. And this year it made it more difficult for customers that were grandfathered into their old unlimited data plans to keep those plans.

Some customers have complained about the new plans and Verizon's efforts to completely abolish unlimited data plans. In an effort to quell criticism Verizon spokespeople have been quick to point out that subscribers can conserve data by using Wi-Fi when it's available. Wi-Fi uses unlicensed spectrum to provide high-speed wireless access to the Internet. Because it operates at higher frequencies, the signals travel over shorter distances. As a result, Wi-Fi is generally accessed indoors, such as in homes, offices, coffee shops, airports etc.

Accessing the Internet via a Wi-Fi network is not supposed to count against a customer's monthly cellular data usage, since that customer is not using the carrier's licensed spectrum network. This means that if the iPhone 5 data usage problem had been left unfixed, customers could have been blowing through their allotted data plans without even realizing it, racking up additional charges if they exceeded their monthly plans. This also would have meant that customers would have been unfairly charged for using a network that they were in fact not using.

Now that the update has been issued, the problem will be fixed, Apple and Verizon said. And Verizon iPhone 5 customers can surf Wi-Fi without the fear of eating up their monthly data plan. But if I were a Verizon iPhone 5 customer, I would double check my monthly bill just to be sure. Verizon has not said what caused this issue or under which circumstances customers were unfairly charged for data usage.

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