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back to article Orange customer clobbered with SIX-FIGURE phone bill

EE's Orange arm managed to bill a customer £163,000 for a month's data use, thanks to a dodgy handset which was opening a data connection every 20 minutes. Alan Mazkouri had a business deal with mobile telco Orange. Last summer his phone began overheating and draining the battery, so much so that Mazkouri took the dodgy handset …

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Alien

Unit of data

Might I suggest the Doom, the size of the shareware Doom archive, who's size was so important when we were splitting it up on floppies to pass to friends?

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Re: Unit of data

and as a micro unit, single ICMP packet (i.e. ping itself)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unit of data

Except a ping packet ranges in size from 28 bytes to 65536 bytes.

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Devil

Re: Unit of data

I'll give it a whirl. Based on the BBC's assertion that this was roughly the cost of downloading 15,000 music tracks, I propose the KiloBoogie, (kBg) or the overall cost of downloading 1000 70's disco tracks. So this poor blighter would have incurred 15 kBg (with all the associated brain damage that doing such a thing could inflict).

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Re: Unit of data

So this chap used up somewhere between a kilodoom and a megadoom?

..and this message is a few picodoom.

Works for me :)

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Re: Unit of data

How long average per track? Disco tracks can range from relatively tame 3-minute affairs to 15 minutes plus (some of the longer songs of Donna Summers).

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Boffin

Re: Unit of data

Better than ICMP packets... how about the MTU of standard Ethernet, 1500 bytes?

Since that fundamentally sets what size our packets are.

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Headmaster

Re: Unit of data

In which case: What was the compression ratio. 15m track can be a smaller file than a 3minute affair.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unit of data

15,000 music tracks? £160K?

At an average 3MB/track that's £3.50 per megabyte. Roaming in Asia I can understand, but who charges that much in the UK?

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Unhappy

Re: Unit of data

Boring!!

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WTF?

Re: Unit of data

>but who charges that much in the UK?

I was wondering the same. Here in Norway on my PAYG (Chilimobil) I pay the equivalent of about 12p per MB. And that is expensive per MB here but my data traffic isn't enough to warrant an all in contract. For what he paid I could download a TB but I would have to be downloading for 12 hours a day at about at the maximum rate a 3G connection can manage.

So it seems to me there are other questions to ask Orange beyond the obvious ones about mis-configured handsets.

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Facepalm

IT?

"pinging the internet"

for a tech site, this has to be the worst description ever. Besides the poor use of those words, I would guess the handset was doing much much more.

Didnt say what handset it was... I wonder was it an Android device with malware or a genuine fault in the handset.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: IT?

"Pinging the internet" is an entirely fair and accurate description of what this handset was doing. Any insinuation that we might have spotted your comment and tweaked the story is entirely false and we shall banish you to North Korea if you dare mention it again.

(OK, OK, mea culpa)

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IT Angle

Re: IT?

The phone was overheating and draining the battery.

I'm willing to bet he had downloaded a dodgy app that was behaving as a bot, and the constant data access caused the overheating.

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Holmes

Re: IT?

I've complained to Tmobile about high data use and hot handset. Disabling mobile data stops it dead.

Watch the data indicator and it's clear the handset is continually switching between Tmobile and orange masts naturally sending a data packet to log on each time.

I'm certain they are fully aware of this but they blamed my phone which doesn't do it with a Tesco SIM!

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Happy

Re: IT?

Get yourself a firewall. Install DroidWall and block any and all apps that do not need data access, like cameras, galleries, most games and play apps.

Half of my apps are blocked by DroidWall. My battery life improves by 30%, performance shoots up, mobile data usage is WAY down. It's all good.

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Anonymous Coward

Re:Droidwall

When I came across this I was very interested, went straight to the store to download it.

Then I realised that in order to do it you must root your device and void the warranty.

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Taking Oranges quota charges into account, I believe the correct unit is HollyOaks.

1 Gb = the brain power of a single HollyOaks actor, so I believe he downloaded 15 HollyOaks

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Anonymous Coward

No

We're talking about units of data transmission here, not processing capacity.

"Gb" - whether you meant gigabits or gigabytes - is not an appropriate measure of brain power.

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Boffin

There's only one way to measure data usage

Data usage should be in terms of Minutes of Porn (1 mop = xx Mb*).

"He used about 12 kilomops, whereas his normal monthly usage was a few hundred milimops" etc, etc.

* Let's assume SD - because HD on a phone screen is a waste of bandwidth. Hopefully more technical commentards can help with the actual conversion rate...

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Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

For audio at 128 kbps and H.264 video at 1.5 Mbps sample rates 1 Mop would be 14 Mb

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Thumb Up

Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

I hereby vote for the 'mop' as the official Reg measure!

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Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

Ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner!!

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Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

1.5Mbps? Sounds like you could cram HD-level porn in that bandwidth. I would think something more in the neighborhood of 500kpbs video is more to be expected from a mobile porn stream.

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Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

May I suggest that a milliMop is given the affectionate handle 'tissue'?

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Devil

Re: There's only one way to measure data usage

Mop is good... but I quite like the sound of the Fap

So you could have nano, micro and milliFaps for knocking out a quick one

KiloFaps and MegaFaps for an extremely long sessions!

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Thumb Up

Assuming a business solo plan with no data bundle then it's £5 for 250mb up to a maximum of £40 then it's £0.10 per mb. Giving a total of 1,631,600mb in total.

El Reg download unit is of course one download of "One Night in Paris" quick check on TPB gives an average file size of 630mb.

So the download is equal to 2590 downloads of that great home movie (give or take the odd KB) which I now suggest as the official download unit.

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Paris Hilton

I think Night in Paris is a bit of a mouthful so to speak. Perhaps just a Nip. So that download would be roughly 2.6Nips

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Paris Hilton

Yep, I was going to suggest that as a suitable unit too.

One NiP as you say is about 630mb so our chap here was faced with spunking quite a wad on 2.6 kNiPs

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I like using NIP but wouldn't it actually be 2.6 kilo NIP's?

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Unhappy

The BBC estimate of 15000 songs kind of suggests something like 90Gbytes (assuming MP3s of around 6Mbytes per song). But almost 11 quid a song? - even HMV's not that expensive!

Can someone at Orange please explain to me how it is possible to receive that much data on a phone through their network in a month - half the time when I try to connect, I get bugger all - the data counter on my phone says I've only managed to download 180Mbytes since the beginning of March!

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D'oh...

Of course someone beat me to posting this.

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Trollface

"Can someone at Orange please explain to me how it is possible to receive that much data on a phone through their network in a month"

I'm not *at* Orange, but I am *on* Orange, and I routinely (except when I'm inside the office where I work or on the Metro) can get the full 7Mbps of HSDPA+ (?sp), which gives close to 1MBps. On that basis, 1GB of data would take less than an hour.

'Course, it's Orange France, not Orange UK, but there you are.

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Sorry. yes, should be kNips. I can't type.

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Unhappy

@Steve the Cynic

Funnily enough, I get a much better data connection when I'm abroad, although with roaming charges I wind down my data consumption then as much as I can!

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Stop

Whilst I fully support "MOP" as a unit of mobile data use...

Does it not fail the "standards" test as depending on the encoding algorithm - 1 minute of the aforementioned porn maybe more or less than another in actual data usage terms? Or something technical llike that... unless it's soft porn of course - which to me is all the same anyway.

In relation to the story however - could he just have removed the battery?

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Holmes

Re: Whilst I fully support "MOP" as a unit of mobile data use...

Oh, no, no, no.

The mop (it's lower case) is defined as "the data required to transmit the 11th minute of Debbie Does Dallas encoded in the MPEG-4 Part 14 format (2nd edition), at a definition of 640x480"

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Re: Whilst I fully support "MOP" as a unit of mobile data use...

Even that's variable. You can encode that same minute at different bandwidths. You'll get differing results, but for a porno tube transmission, a rate of ~500kbps would be acceptable. You'll either need to provide a bandwidth or a quantizer setting to make a concrete result.

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Anonymous Coward

Mute swan

> Suggestions for a proper El Reg unit of data appreciated in the comments

The unit should be called the Mute Swan - because said bird has a large orange bill that leaves it speechless.

(The actual amount of data this represents is irrelevant - it's all relative!)

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Pint

Re: Mute swan

A good suggestion, but I can assure you that the "Mute" swan is definitely misnamed, You should hear the noise our resident pair make when something approaches their nest or cygnets. This usually happens at about 04:00 and sets off the Canada geese.

May I therefore suggest the toucan. They too have a large orange bill1 and are known for their ring networking2.

Cheers

1 I drink Guinness.

2 I may have misheard (see above).

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Re: Mute swan

""Mute" swan is definitely misnamed,"

According to the anyone-can-edit "encyclopedia", the Mute Swan is so named because it is *less* vocal than other swans, not because it is silent.

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WTF?

As someone on record...

On record as being mildly autistic...

You people really awe & scare me.. I'm not sure whether to be stunned by the anal retentiveness or just hide till it goes away..

In other news I'm not surprised this was Orange - but this is special olympics grade customer service even for them. Can I suggest an El Reg yearly award maybe, like the Darwins, for the most egregious company & screw up? Maybe the Zuckerberg or the Brittas awards. Can I also nominate SSE for the inaugural entry shortlist?

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Holmes

Seems they haven't improved since I left...

They messed up a tariff change, and charged me for data at the wrong rate. A bill that should have been about £45 for the month came in at £220, and they seriously messed me about - claiming that the bill had been sent to be calculated when it hadn't, promising me calls from supervisors that never occurred, and repeatedly failing to record notes on my account when I called to complain. Eventually I managed to get the Executive Office to look into my complaint, and they refunded me to the tune of £200.

As soon as the money was back in my bank account, I cancelled my accounts with them, and didn't even bother to ask for PAC codes - I was so disgusted by the way I had been treated, I didn't even bother to port my numbers. I don't trust the other networks with a direct debit either, so I've been PAYG ever since.

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Bronze badge

The generic unit probably applies...

"shitload"

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Re: The generic unit probably applies...

Also, 'metric fuckton' springs to mind

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Re: The generic unit probably applies...

Also, 'metric fuckton' springs to mind

I believe the kilomop, as described above, meets the strict definition of "metric fuckton".

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Gee, isn't it funny that if you wanted to make that kind of purchase with your credit card,

you'd be speaking with the credit card company at the time of purchase, but if you wanted

to rack up a bill like that on your cell phone that the company wouldn't call you and let

you know that you are racking up a bill like that?

Shock surprise that there isn't any consumer protection laws to protect the consumer from

the "phone" companies.

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Boffin

Something fishy

There's a few things not quite right about this story.

First and foremost, most phone companies would have cut him off after running up a far less charge. Why did it continue to such a ridiculous number?

Most phone plans have unlimited everything for cheap, but even they cut you off after a a certain amount.

What the hell kind of data was being transferred? The only thing I can think of that even comes close is back-to-back-to-back non-stop movies. Network pings don't even come close.

Where was the data being stored if it was downloaded? It's not that hard to fill up your average SD and SIM card if you are downloading movies. (yes, he could have changed SD and SIM cards)

If it was uploaded, then this points to obvious malware, but even then, that still a heck of a lot of data for a botnet node. Log in and passwords are very tiny data files.

There is definitely something fishy going on with this story.

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Re: Something fishy

What the hell kind of data was being transferred? The only thing I can think of that even comes close is back-to-back-to-back non-stop movies. Network pings don't even come close.

That handset was faulty. What makes you think anything meaningful was being transferred? I remember a few years ago spending a thankless couple of days tracking down a network fault at one of those clients from hell - you know the ones - where there was no network map, no documentation to speak off, just hundreds of identical and unlabelled grey ethernet cables. Eventually I tracked down the fault - it was a 250GB WD NAS appliance whose NIC had started jabbering non stop. It had been going on for several days by the time it was eventually tracked down. A quick back of an envelope calculation suggested it was transmitting well over 8TB a day and that is was this paralyzing the network.

That wasn't pings, nor ARP requests, nor previously requested data... it was nothing - it wasn't even formatted as ethernet frames. It was still enough to get passed around from switch to switch and cripple the entire broadcast domain. I'd imagine something similar has happened here - you are billed based on how much data you shift, not how much sense it makes.

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Re: Something fishy

TCP will keep trying to retransmit if it detects an error in transmission. Malformed packets would not be stored anywhere but would cause a continual loop of malformed data flowing both ways.

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