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Microsoft could be facing a PR headache, after a welter of Windows Phone 7 owners reported their handsets are apparently tearing thorough mobile internet allowances by inexplicably sending and receiving large amounts of data.

The problem has surfaced on blogs and forums across the web, with the lion’s share of those airing a grievance located in the US. Among the allegations are that the phones are sending data even when their 3G capability is turned off and they are connected to a wireless broadband network.

Some even claim that data is being used when handsets are in airplane mode – a feature that ostensibly disables all connectivity in the cause of air safety.

There is notable variation between how much data the handsets are said to be using. However, those who purport to be worst affected said that as much as 5MB every hour is being expended even when their smartphone is not in use.

The issue has raised the spectre of thousands of WP7 early adopters facing unexpectedly high charges for data. This could be especially ruinous if overseas charges are taken into account.

Microsoft, no doubt mindful of how Apple’s high-handed approach over antennagate, has acknowledged there could be a problem and has launched a probe.

A spokesperson for the tech giant stated: "We are investigating this issue to determine the root cause and will update with information and guidance as it becomes available.”

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