After having talked to more than five different customer reps, and probably spend a couple of hours with them on the phone in the last week or two, I got the Apple iPhone internationl plan setup. Here is the final outcome, at least for now:
1. The ATT World Travel Plan
This costs $5.95/month or so and give you a discounted rate in Europe ($0.99/minutes as opposed to $1.20/minute or so) and also disscount on text and picture messages.
2. The interntaional provisioning plan
I purchased an additional data plan for $59.95/month or so that provides me with 50 MB of data transfer. This will hopefully be enough for checking e-mail and writing a few, when I am on the go in between locations. There is also a 20 MB plan available at $24.95/month, but I thought 20 MB may not be enough for my trip.
3. Visual voice mail got disabled while basic voice mail is still available
It seems that Apple customer service rep was right. The visual voice mail got disabled, while I can still call the basic voice mail service, and check on voice mail messages. In this case, the charge will be a regular per minute charge with no additional data charge (so the 2 cents per kilobytes will no longer apply).
4. E-mail attachments still a danger
It was confirmed that there is no way to disable sending attachments to the Apple iPhone. This means that large attachments can become expensive if you exceed the data volume that is allowed in the international provisioning that you choose. I chose the 50 MB international provisioning plan ($59.95 per month), so if I get attachments that end up exceeding 50 MB in total, the cost for the excess data is 2 cents per kilobyte.
5. Discontinuing the plans upon returning to the U.S.
One thing to remember is that the additional plans I added above, need to be disabled after one returns to the U.S. This is not done automatically. So another call to the AT&T support team will be necessary.
How about monitoring the data usage while overseas
Even though I was told that this cannot be done, I discovered later that the Usage screen in the iPhone settings, does track the data downloaded to the device, and it does offer a reset button which allows you to reset the statistics. I am hoping that resetting this at the beginning of my trip will help me keep an eye on the data usage.
Helpful resources and reminders
The Smartphone Experiment book: The Apple iPhone and 11 other smartphones were reviewed in The Smartphone Experiment book--how to select your smartphone in 5 easy steps. If you are looking for a smartphone, the book offers a comprehensive review of the most popular models as well as the worksheets that can help you assess your needs and make an informed decision.
Please use your smartphone safetly and "don't type and drive". If you have friends and family who are smartphone users, please send them the "don't type and drive" greeting card.
Finally, check out the "don't type and drive" video, and help us spread the word about the "don't type and drive" campaign.