My $60-something-per-month AT&T air card service is golden. It can be twitchy now and then but 97% of the time it hooks me up almost anywhere I happen to be, and usually with four or five bars when I’m in Manhattan. But you can’t use it in Europe unless money is no object.

AT&T is offering international air-card service but — get this — only if you sign up for a year’s contract at $260-something dollars a month. So starting Tuesday morning it’ll be the same old routine in Cannes. Excellent free wifi in the bunker and in the American Pavillion tent, that is, and free wifi in some of the hotels. But no just sitting down anywhere and filing.

And no iPhone service. Last year I bought a meager 100 megs of pre-paid data charges — next to nothing in the grand scheme but AT&T wouldn’t sell any more than that. I didn’t know about resetting the data usage tracker and turning off data roaming and e-mail auto-check. I just figured, “Well, I’ll be careful about going online with the phone and it won’t be too bad.” When I got home I was told I owed AT&T over $2400 in data charges plus regular phone-call charges. This year I’m turning everything off and using the iPhone only as an iTouch, going online with it only in wifi-access areas.

I may buy a European SIM card for a Motorola I have, but mostly I intend to use Gizmo 5 for phone calls. Plus I’ve bought a call-in number. If you miss a call you get an email with an mp3 attached with their voice message. Love it.

I’m in the pad until around 1 pm tomorrow. My flight leaves JFK at 5:30 pm. I’m in Zurich the next morning at 7:25 am and in Nice by 10:10 am.