By Carl Howe
Anders Brownworth has some excellent (and cautionary) details of his experience taking his Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone to Argentina. He noted that even if you select one of AT&T's (NYSE:T) international calling plans, you then are in a quandry about what to do about the exorbitant international data charges. And given that the iPhone was designed with an unlimited data plan in mind, the phone seems to be a little more cavalier about using EDGE than many users will be happy with.
Personally, I don't find this experience restricted to the iPhone. I don't have an unlimited data plan, yet my Nokia (NYSE:NOK) E61i Internet phone with WiFi just loves to make connections to the EDGE network even when I have a WiFi network selected. My solution there has been to completely delete the EDGE access points from my access point list, and then insert them when I think I may want to use the EDGE data network. But I can't claim that this is either user friendly or convenient. And I would expect Apple to come up with a better solution in its re-invention of the cell phone experience.
Anders speculates that this may be a class-action lawsuit in the making. Given US legalistic propensities, I wouldn't be surprised, but I think a better outcome would be for Apple to come up with a "restrict data access" setting and push that out to iPhone users via a software update in advance of seeing such a lawsuit filed. This problem isn't limited to AT&T, and we're going to see more of this type of complaint as the iPhone moves into more geographies and more types of roaming. This is one issue Apple should be getting ahead of before it requires a letter from Steve Jobs and rebates to fix.