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AT&T tells unofficial tethering users it will upgrade plans

updated 09:25 pm EDT, Wed April 27, 2011

AT&T to switch unauthorized tetherers to $45 plan

AT&T has sent out a second SMS warning to subscribers it believes are illegally tethering their phones, and this one contains a more stern message. The carrier has told these users they will soon be automatically upgraded and billed for its tethering plan, which includes 4GB and raises monthly data plans by $20 to $45. AT&T's basic plans only include on-device Internet access and messaging.

Numerous iPhone owners on AT&T use apps that let them turn their phones into Wi-Fi hotspots and share their handset's data connection with tablets, notebooks and other phones. Although many have argued that AT&T shouldn't discriminate regarding how the data is being used, the unofficial solutions still technically violate its terms for how data is being used. AT&T like most carriers is looking for identifiers that label the OS or the app type to determine whether data is on the phone or from a desktop app. [via GottaBeMobile]

by MacNN Staff



  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There should be laws against this kind

    of harassment.

    That's the problem with big mergers, they reduce the options; otherwise it would be a matter of switching networks.

    Maybe there's a technical solution. It might be that the carrier in question is logging the IPs connected to the customer's number; if that's how the find out it should be a simple matter of setting the tethered hardware's IP to the match the registered device's.

  1. DCJ001

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bandwidth Thieves

    This sounds like a great way to crack down on the bandwidth thieves.

  1. panjandrum

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There truly is no end to the corporate greed... Well, I've got an unlimited plan: I suppose if I ever decide to tether with a perfectly-legal-but-not-Apple(intheirinfinitewisdom)-certified-app, and then AT&T challenges me, I can ask them if they would prefer that I occasionally tether to get eMail or browse on a second device, or if I should just run Netflix streaming on my iPhone every single moment that I'm not using it for something else. I could certainly suck vastly more bandwidth that way than I ever would tethering. There are plenty of other ways I could do it also. So this definitely isn't about bandwidth use; as usual it's just greed. Smart people figured out a way to do something that AT&T wants to charge an absurdly excessive amount for. Greed almost always backfires in the end...

  1. chas_m



    Data is data

    I just do not see the point of AT&T caring whether the data is used via tethering or direct use: what possible difference does it make? They have a limit to how much data is used, a "bucket" if you will. Once that's gone, it's gone (or you upgrade to a larger-bucket plan).

    DCJ001, tethering has nothing to do with so-called "bandwidth thieves" (whatever that means; you do know that tetherers, like everyone else on 3G/4G, pays for every byte of what they use), it's a question of method.

    It would be like the cable company charging me more for watching movies in color than they do for movies watched in black and white; or my ISP charging me more to visit sites on my (wi-fi) iPad than they do for me to use my desktop.

    The whole thing is silly, and will probably end up in court. At great expense to the cell companies. Who will then pass that cost on to consumers.

  1. jay3ld

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Contract plan

    Shouldn't this invalidate your contract with AT&T then. Since they have changed your plan and have not had you sign the new contract?

  1. macnews1

    Joined: Dec 1969



    If you want MORE customers, get rid of the tether charge and let data be data. Right now my wife and I are both on the cheapest data plan because with just our iphones we each use less than the 200MB a month - I get close but watch to not go over. If I could easily use my iPhone to create a wi-fi hot spot with no extra "tethering charge" I know we both would up our data plans (paying for what we would use). My wife would love that for her iPad (non-3G) and my laptop. What we can't do is pay a tethering fee and then pay for potential data we wouldn't use or could only use with one device. Stupid, stupid, stupid AT&T.

  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Not hassling me

    I guess my usage of tethering is so seldom that they don't care.

  1. Le Flaneur

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The reason why they charge more for tethering is because the vast majority of customers with data plans don't come close to the limit -- if they did, the network couldn't handle it. With tethering, a customer is much more likely to use up all of his allotted data. I.e. The only reason why they can offer 2 GB/customer/month is because only 10% (or whatever low figure you wish) of customers will actually use that much data.

    It's unfair, but I believe that this is the reason.

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