Any AT&T fees for hitting 802.11u "AT&T Wi-Fi Passpoint" enabled international hotspots?
Does anyone know if AT&T charges for stumbling upon one of those new "AT&T Wi-Fi Passpoint" enabled hotspots while traveling internationally? Zero of 3 AT&T agents knew.
I travel internationally with my iPhone in airplane mode, cellular data off, Wi-Fi enabled, and Wi-Fi calling enabled. As long as I use Wi-Fi hotspots (friends' and relatives' Wi-Fi, free Wi-Fi at hotels and malls, or my Wi-Fi only account from a region's local cell provider), then "AT&T Wi-Fi" calling is free for calls and texts as long as to US numbers otherwise long distance rates apply. But I use Skype, Line, Messenger, email, etc. for most communication anyway, so I really do not need to make calls (but need incoming text alerts and verifications) hence I can get by with "AT&T Wi-Fi" over Wi-Fi. AT&T's IDP Travel Tips (http://www.att.com/IDPTravelTips) and Wi-Fi Calling (https://www.att.com/wificalling) pages have good FAQ's to keep your costs low. I enabled the $10 IDP just in case the kids or I turn off airplane mode, and I have a second unlocked iPhone with a local SIM for when I do need to make local calls.
However, my iPhone recently automatically connected to a different local cell provider's password-protected Wi-Fi, with "AT&T Wi-Fi Passpoint" listed below the SSID. I found nothing on AT&T's website about this service, other than these user forums. Passpoint seems to be a new worldwide Wi-Fi alliance where if a member's Wi-Fi network detects another member's customer's Wi-Fi device, then the device will automatically receive a password and connect without user interaction. Magic pixie dust stuff; no app required. It's also ideal in high-traffic areas like colleges, malls, and large stores where it's more efficient to have a bunch of mobile devices hitting Wi-Fi access points than expensive and slower LTE towers. (One of many non-AT&T links: https://www.wballiance.com/wi-fi-roaming-from-old-school-to-new-opportunities/.)
Seems pretty slick, except that AT&T is in the business of monetizing everything. I contacted AT&T several times (chats and call) and no one knew how this is billed, if at all, and could not direct me to an AT&T webpage that explains this service. Basic domestic Wi-Fi is included in most AT&T plans, but not international. An agent's recommendations to not automatically connect were 1) to stumble within range of one of these 802.11u hotspots then choose to forget the network (which may trigger a fee if you hit it), or 2) do not use Wi-Fi at all. Of course, an SSID name itself gives no warning or clue, and more are coming online as the alliance grows. You'll have to know who is part of the alliance, their SSID's, and where their hotspots are located. While I've seen that particular SSID many times in the last 7 weeks, my phone did not automatically connect until this week, despite my paid Wi-Fi provider having a hotspot at that location too (which may have had a weaker signal). Another poster mentioned an Android having an option to ignore Passpoints, but iOS has no means yet to ignore Passpoints despite it being supported since iOS 7.
5 years ago
Just received a follow-up email from an agent. Apparently "[AT&T WiFi Passpoint] is a secured network offered by international carriers in which AT&T has roaming agreements. Carrier software update allows devices to be connected automatically. No charges associated with using this Wi-Fi network; it will work the same as any other Wi-Fi network your device connects to."
My own and friends' Wi-Fi networks don't charge me anything, so hopefully this is indeed free. If so, since this particular Wi-Fi alliance partner seems to be in 3/4 of locations I frequent, I won't need my paid Wi-Fi provider next time (albeit it is very, very cheap - $4.50/mo).
ACE - Expert
5 years ago
I'm pretty sure there are no additional charges but to be honest, I don't actually know. My phone has connected to AT&T WiFi Passpoint SSID's domestically with no additional charges so I'm presuming there won't be anywhere else. Let's put it this way, we've not seen anyone complain on this forum of getting charges from ATT for WiFi access. Typically, any paid WiFi hotspots ask for payment up front. I've not heard of any that automatically bill through a carrier.