Apple’s Wi-Fi assistant raises student’s cell phone bills

Anthony O’Connell
Junior News Editor

Have you seen an increase in your cell phone service bill after switching to iOS 10? If so, the new Wi-Fi Assist feature could be to blame.

“With Wi-Fi Assist, you can stay connected to the Internet even if you have a poor Wi-Fi connection. For example, if you’re using Safari with a poor Wi-Fi connection and a webpage doesn’t load, Wi-Fi Assist will activate and automatically switch to cellular so that the webpage continues to load,” states the official Apple website.

Every major cell phone service providing company, such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint, gives their customers a certain amount of data GBs each month. It is possible to save GBs by turning on a cellphone’s Wi-Fi connection, which disables data and saves GBs. On average, for every one GB overage, a $15 charge is added to a phone bill.

Wi-Fi assist enables data, even when Wi-Fi is turned on, to support the connection in hopes of making it faster, thus using data GB’s without the user knowing or suspecting it, resulting in overage charges.

“Right when iOS 10 became available, I updated my phone. The next bill I received from Verizon was about $17 dollars more than normal. I did go into my settings and sure enough, Wi-Fi assist was on. The extra $17 dollars were for a data overage charge,” said Ky’ari Hill, a psychology major.

Wi-Fi assist is on by default, but iPhone users do have the option to turn it off. Going into settings, cellular, then scrolling down to Wi-Fi assist and turning it off will protect users from data overage charges.

Digital marketing major Kat Carter said, “My phone is about two updates behind right now. I don’t even update my phone when new ones come out because they are always buggy. The Wi-Fi assist feature just seems like a tricky new way for cellphone service providers to get more money.”

In order to start the process of updating an iPhone, one must agree to the terms and conditions statement. In the latest software update for iOS 10, the statement mentions Wi-Fi assist and its features. When users agree to the terms and conditions statement, they are agreeing to accept any consequence that comes with Wi-Fi assist. Apple and service providers are legally protected.

Emily King, a physical sciences major, said, “I’ve had an iPhone for about four years now, and I have never read through the terms and conditions when I update my phone. Apple is obviously aware that the majority of people don’t read the terms and conditions which makes it easy for them to add something like Wi-Fi assist and get away with it.”

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