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AT&T Cracking Down On Unofficial iPhone Tethering

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the convenience-charge-for-different-bits dept.

Iphone 513

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T is sending warning notifications to jailbroken iPhone users who use unofficial tethering methods like MyWi and PDANet. 'Customers are being notified that their service plans need updating to subscribe to a tethering plan, and that they will be automatically subscribed to a DataPro 4GB package that costs an additional $45 per month if they continue to tether.'"

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513 comments

USA #1 (2, Informative)

viablos (2018696) | about 3 years ago | (#35531578)

Do Americans know that no one else in the world does this? Not in Europe, not in Asia. They sell you the service and you use it how you want.

But this is Apple's fault too. If you go with Windows phones you can tether how you want, as they only care about iPhone users and can't detect Windows traffic from other Windows traffic.

Re:USA #1 (5, Informative)

crossword.bob (918209) | about 3 years ago | (#35531674)

Do Americans know that no one else in the world does this? Not in Europe, not in Asia. They sell you the service and you use it how you want.

O2 in the UK charge £7.50/mo for a tethering + 500MB bolt-on for consumer tariffs (you can't buy the tethering without the additional data). I believe 3 offer it free, but not sure about others.

Re:USA #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531844)

> you can't buy the tethering without the additional data

Err, you can if you buy a phone that doesn't give a damn.

3UK have no idea whether my Nokia E71 is tethered or not, they just see a PPP request.

Re:USA #1 (2)

pstils (928424) | about 3 years ago | (#35532182)

Virgin charge nothing extra - you pay for your data plan, it's your data to use how you like, through which ever device you like

Re:USA #1 (1)

IrrepressibleMonkey (1045046) | about 3 years ago | (#35532262)

Vodafone UK offer an additional 500MB allowance for tethered usage for £5 a month. It's automatically added to your bill when you tether with an iPhone.

Re:USA #1 (5, Insightful)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 3 years ago | (#35531708)

They do know this, however unlike other places in the world, we are a captive audience when it comes to wireless providers, the 4 major carriers (and now I will put on my tinfoil hat) appear to collude to a point that price and features all cost around the same. The only thing that differentiates them is how good their coverage is in the different areas.

Re:USA #1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531908)

They do know this, however unlike other places in the world, we are a captive audience when it comes to wireless providers, the 4 major carriers (and now I will put on my tinfoil hat) appear to collude to a point that price and features all cost around the same. The only thing that differentiates them is how good their coverage is in the different areas.

Seemingly not entirely different from gas (petrol) stations.

Re:USA #1 (2)

drb226 (1938360) | about 3 years ago | (#35531752)

Do Americans know that no one else in the world does this?

Well, us American slashdotters are very painfully aware. But I once (actually, twice to the same person) had to explain to a friend that I didn't need to pay for a data plan in order to use wifi on my smartphone. -_- I do not have high hopes for the general awareness of this country.

Re:USA #1 (5, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | about 3 years ago | (#35531768)

There is one simple little reason: Americans appear to be willing to pay for it.

Most US cell phones are free or almost free. The fact that you're getting a free phone in exchange for paying thousands of dollars over two years for service seems to be lost on most consumers here.

Americans also regularly pay over $100 per month for cable TV... and there are ads on almost every channel (often taking up a full third of every hour of programming!), not to mention pay-per-view channels.

Indeed, how do Americans fall for this stuff while people in other nations seem to be able to get better deals? Are we really just that dumb?

Re:USA #1 (4, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 3 years ago | (#35532038)

I don't think it has anything to do with intelligence. It's about being brought up in a culture where such stuff is the norm and thus not seen for what it is - simple exploitation. Of course, it doesn't help that a lot of Americans are simply unaware of what goes on elsewhere..

I came to the US from India a few years ago and was absolutely stunned by how the phone thing works here. Stay locked in to a phone for two fucking years? Seriously? What if you want to upgrade your model? Two years is a loooooong time in the tech world. What if you want to change your carrier AND change your phone? What if you want a prepaid phone with as cheap service rates as a post paid one? What if you want to pop in a new SIM from another carrier. What if.....oh forget it!

Re:USA #1 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532080)

That's the problem of a big nation. The bigger a nation the easier it is for big corporations to achieve monopoly-esque structures. There's only one government to lobby/bribe, same laws, fewer mindsets, only one official language, no borders hampering expansion, less competition due to the large area, etc. It's just easier to control one big market. Might be good for big corporations, not so much for consumers.

Re:USA #1 (4, Informative)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | about 3 years ago | (#35532226)

Indeed, how do Americans fall for this stuff while people in other nations seem to be able to get better deals? Are we really just that dumb?

Not that much. The "will happily pay thousands of dollars because they're giving me a free phone now" is possible thanks to a logical fallacy called "hyperbolic discounting" [rochester.edu] -- the article in the link refers to lab animals, but it's proven that it works on humans, too. Simpler descriptions here [damninteresting.com] and here [wikimedia.org]. Of course it's being exploited and used as a marketing method since years.
And: not only Americans fall for this, and endless businesses all around the world use this trick to, well, screw us. We Europeans just like to think we are smarter than the yanks ;) but this marketing technique is so widespread we don't even notice anymore.

Re:USA #1 (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 3 years ago | (#35531850)

>>>Not in Europe, not in Asia.

And what happens when your European neighbors are netflixing or bittorrenting at the same time, over the wireless internet? Does it slow to a crawl? That's what happens in the US.

Re:USA #1 (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | about 3 years ago | (#35532140)

You're still limited to 'x' GB of data transfer, it's just that you can use it on whatever device you like. AT&T limit you to 'x' GB on your phone, and only allow you to tether if you pay extra.

Re:USA #1 (1)

mikael_j (106439) | about 3 years ago | (#35532172)

I don't really know anyone who uses 3G/4G connections for torrenting. Youtube and similar content? Sure, but I can't say I've noticed any performance issues myself.

A little off-topic, for wired connections, I've tested the speed of my connection (100/100 Mbps) a number of times at different times of the day and week and never gotten less than 90 Mbps downstream for any test site in Scandinavia. Outside of europe it tends to drop a bit when using only one connection but with multiple connections to various hosts outside of europe (that is, using Bittorrent) the downstream has been maxed out with no problem.

The upstream speed seems to work about the same. For some reason single connections to the US and Asia are slower than multiple connections (that is, I can sustain four 20 Mbps streams fine but a single 80 Mbps seems almost impossible, not just with this ISP either). Feel free to speculate where the bottleneck is...

Re:USA #1 (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#35532314)

Netflix doesn't operate in Europe, you insensitive clod!

I don't have wireless internet, but is bittorrenting a real problem? Everyone I know with smartphones also has a cable or fiber connection, which is must faster.

Re:USA #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531854)

That's a bunch of horseshit, O2, Orange and Vodaphone all charge for tethering in Europe. The only Japanese carrier I've dealt with is Softbank, they also charge for tethering (after outright banning it for years).

Re:USA #1 (2)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#35531900)

Do Americans know that no one else in the world does this?

Here in the UK, some telcos try to charge for tethering. I have a custom ROM on my phone for one thing, so I can do it without paying for a package for it. I have hardly ever used it anyway, so I don't know what would actually happen if I started using it a lot. I'm on a business data plan anyway so I doubt it would matter..

How exactly is "Windows traffic" on a phone indistinguishable from "Windows traffic" on a PC, yet somehow those are both different from iOS traffic? For one thing even the default browser user agent string is going to be different on all of these devices, and a low UID slashdotter mentioned recently that there are ways of distinguishing OS at signatures at IP level too, but I don't know what they would be or how easy it would be to spoof that.

Anyway, it seems you're just spreading BS. Pretty much every post I've seen from a >2,000,000 UID so far is all pro-MS/anti-Apple/anti-Google bullshit..

Re:USA #1 (1)

agoliveira (188870) | about 3 years ago | (#35531944)

That would impossible here in Brazil due to our consumer laws in two way I can think of: they can't limit the way I use the service (unless I'm doing something illegal) and they can't change a contract term or assign a paid service unilaterally.

Re:USA #1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532128)

Seems to be just another way to screw customers out of more money.... Thank god I don't have at&t.....and at this rate i never will.....
It really shouldn't matter how you use your phone.....Oh wait....Isn't Sony in a battle like this over their PS3?
I'm stuck wondering if the stuff we buy will ever actually be ours to use as we want......Without the You can't this and you can't that or
we will disable it or charge you more

Re:USA #1 (1)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | about 3 years ago | (#35532252)

Wrong. In Germany, I would have to pay additional fee if i wanted to tether my iPhone (at least with T-Mobile). Anyways, I bet, if you read the contract you signed you'll find out they are selling you exactly the service that you are then allowed to use.

Detection (4, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | about 3 years ago | (#35531580)

How do they detect if the users are tethering??

Re:Detection (0)

recoiledsnake (879048) | about 3 years ago | (#35531622)

They might have some detection code running on the iPhone drivers etc. that's unremovable because of all the drm and signed apps requirements unless it's jailbroken? I dunno, just a plausible guess.

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531698)

just a dumb guess.

FTFY

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531640)

i'd think non safari user agents for one...

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531702)

Er, you can get Opera in the AppStore ...

Re:Detection (3, Interesting)

DanTheManMS (1039636) | about 3 years ago | (#35531648)

How do they detect if the users are tethering??

From what I've read, it seems like they're really just looking for people who use up tons of data per month, on the suspicion that they're tethering. I've already heard a few stories of people calling them up, saying "I stream Pandora all day so why am I being charged extra for that?" and being let off the hook.

Re:Detection (2)

Cutriss (262920) | about 3 years ago | (#35531654)

Current guess is they're snooping on user agent strings in packets to determine if PC clients are being used to browse the web.

Re:Detection (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 years ago | (#35531958)

And the user-agent is so impossible to change?

Re:Detection (1)

Ruke (857276) | about 3 years ago | (#35532248)

No, but that doesn't mean that people are doing it. There are twenty different ways that AT&T could be detecting tethering, each with a workaround that would defeat AT&T's snooping. This doesn't mean that each tethered user is aware of each of these methods, or even aware that AT&T is snooping on them in the first place. Nor should we assume that everyone with a jailbroken iPhone has the technical wherewithal to correctly implement any or all of these workarounds.

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532276)

That is just not relevant at all. This is a common misbelief on slashdot: that a restriction only makes sense if it absolutely covers 100% of the cases. Reality is that if AT&T can make morey money by UA sniffing they may do it, even if many people will be able to work around the restriction.

Re:Detection (1)

andrea.sartori (1603543) | about 3 years ago | (#35532302)

For most people it is, I'd say. Just say "user agent" around and count the number of blank stares. (Does not apply if you only hang around with techies.)

Re:Detection (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531666)

People view Flash based sites.

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531678)

How do they detect if the users are tethering??

deep packet inspection anyone?

Re:Detection (1)

hellfire (86129) | about 3 years ago | (#35531758)

Could simply be encoded in the network tracking. The endpoint of the TCP request is not the phone, it's the machine attached to the phone. Can you somehow track that in the network traffic regardless of the jailbreak and then cross reference with the user's AT&T account?

Re:Detection (2)

naturaverl (628952) | about 3 years ago | (#35531776)

Quoting the summary, "unofficial tethering methods like MyWi and PDANet"... Through apple, AT&T knows what apps you have installed. If you have MyWi or PDANet installed, and you're using a larger-than-normal amount of bandwidth, then they'll claim you are tethering.

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531952)

Quoting the summary, "unofficial tethering methods like MyWi and PDANet"... Through apple, AT&T knows what apps you have installed. If you have MyWi or PDANet installed, and you're using a larger-than-normal amount of bandwidth, then they'll claim you are tethering.

Just because you have MyWi or PDANet installed doesn't mean you are using them, so that argument falls flat.

Re:Detection (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 3 years ago | (#35532026)

It's not like they have to prove it. All they have to do is say "we think you're doing this, so you'll either pay $45 more per month, stop tethering, or break your contract (and possibly owe us a hefty termination fee)."

Re:Detection (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 years ago | (#35532050)

If they aren't official, how does Apple know they are installed? If they were from the App store, in which case Apple knows you installed it, how is that not official?

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531798)

Presume it is from the user-agent string for browsing. Your tethering practices could probably be obsfucated if you change the user-agent you're using to match the Safari iPhone user-agent string.

Re:Detection (5, Informative)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | about 3 years ago | (#35531848)

If you look at your bill, it shows how much data per day and when the sessions started and stopped. Short sessions are not counted separately, rather grouped into the previous or next major session. I tether, and I just checked my bill, currently about 2.5 g per month is what I am running on the high side.

here is a sample from a few days of use last month..

336 MON 01/31/2011 9:23AM Data Transfer Data 222,366 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
337 MON 01/31/2011 11:30AM Data Transfer Data 75,889 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
338 MON 01/31/2011 11:02PM Data Transfer Data 513 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
339 TUE 02/01/2011 12:02AM Data Transfer Data 4,323 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
340 WED 02/02/2011 8:27AM Data Transfer Data 38,168 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
341 WED 02/02/2011 11:32AM Data Transfer Data 107,778 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00
342 WED 02/02/2011 2:50PM Data Transfer Data 38,417 KB DPPB AT GPRR Out 0.00

Even if I was streaming pandara all day, and surfing the internet, and using various network aware apps and youtube (which would conflict with pandora from an audio standpoint), it would still be hard to hit 220 meg between say 930am and 1130am on lines 336 and 337.

That would be a dead giveaway. They would not even have to use deep packet inspection to pull agent strings, or anything.

But like someone else said, they are probably just going to hit people that use exorbitant amounts of bandwidth, although as a security person, I could easily develop something automated to find the majority of those tethering without any human interaction required..

Re:Detection (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532028)

TTL in the packet header

Re:Detection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532312)

They are likely using the packet TTL value as said here:
http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/g62wv/i_woke_up_this_morning_to_this_lovely_email_from/c1l6ixe

Its like the mob (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531602)

Pay up or we force you to pay.

Oh, and yeah, our service isn't really top notch. But if you try to go to someone else, we'll break your legs (well, charge you a fee anyway).

How do Americans put up with this crap, when other countries pay so, so much less for mobile?

Re:Its like the mob (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about 3 years ago | (#35531720)

>>Pay up or we force you to pay.

This... probably shouldn't be legal. Automatic subscription to a $45/month service seems like it violates very basic principles of how agreements work.

And to all you people that will be complaining on here, and not doing anything about it, here's something really simple you can do:
Donate to the EFF. (www.eff.org/support/)

They're the only organization taking a stand against all this kind of stuff.

>>How do Americans put up with this crap, when other countries pay so, so much less for mobile?

Because our courts will tolerate an awful lot of shit, as long as it is in a contract.

While we do have alternative carriers that cost a *lot* less (Cricket / MetroPCS), people want their iPhones.

Re:Its like the mob (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 years ago | (#35532004)

It's a standard clause in many consumer-to-business contracts: The business just gives themselves the right to alter the conditions of the contract at any time. Sometimes requiring notice some period in advance, but said notice is typicially in the form of a letter with five pages of tiny legal print that everyone throws away. Unless you explicitly end the contract upon recieving the notification (Which, in itsself, often means a termination fee), you are assumed to have agreed to the new terms by default.

Re:Its like the mob (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 3 years ago | (#35532162)

If they want to change the contract, they can, but you can also stipulate that you'll live out the contract as it was originally signed. When you do that, of course, there's no early termination fee, but your line will be disconnected five minutes after the contract expires, and so you'll lose the mobile number.

Re:Its like the mob (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#35532074)

the contract you sign for the service says that if you want to tether you have to buy the service

Re:Its like the mob (1)

Anrego (830717) | about 3 years ago | (#35531994)

As a Canadian I wish we had things as good as they do in the US (phone plan wise that is).

Seriously.. rates and plans are insane over here. Unless you live in one of maybe 4 areas that have anything approaching competition, you pretty much get bent over the barrel.

I'd love a phone with GPS, and a data plan for the occasional quick search or map lookup.. but for $70 a month (which is really what you end up paying here) it's just not worth it for something I'd use a few times a week.

Re:Its like the mob (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 3 years ago | (#35532066)

>> How do Americans put up with this crap, when other countries pay so, so much less for mobile?

Because the US government and legal system are for sale to the highest bidder, so the US system only works on the behalf of the big corporations.

Re:Its like the mob (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 3 years ago | (#35532156)

It's not quite like the mob... if you don't like it, you can switch to another carrier when you contract expires. And that is the problem with subsidizing phone purchases with monthly connection fees -- companies don't get the feedback that they've screwed up until 2 years later when the contract expires.

this really ticks me off... (0)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 years ago | (#35531614)

These type of claims by wireless companies are SERIOUSLY wrong.

It's the exact same thing as if your ISP tried to charge you for using connection sharing in Windows. It's part of an O.S. you already purchased. It's taking advantage of ignorance.

Re:this really ticks me off... (1)

pehrs (690959) | about 3 years ago | (#35531734)

You know that the primary reason that most ISP's originally limited their customers to a single IP address was to make connection sharing more complicated, right? Today they might claim it is to "conserve IP addresses" or some other BS, but don't let that fool you.

The ISP's would happily charge you per system if they could figure out how.

Re:this really ticks me off... (1)

imthesponge (621107) | about 3 years ago | (#35532304)

Well there are only about a million articles about how the Internet is running out of IPv4 addresses, so that's probably true.

This is wrong (2)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 3 years ago | (#35531650)

Charge them for how much data they use, not for how they use it. AT&T is just assuming that anybody tethering is using more bandwidth than they would otherwise. The real problem is that they hooked subscribers with a promise of "unlimited data" in the first place.

Re:This is wrong (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 3 years ago | (#35532188)

Charge them for how much data they use, not for how they use it.

Moving bytes doesn't cost the phone company money, once they have the towers built the cost of moving the data around is very very low. They sign up people to flat rates that theoretically oversubscribe the network because they want flat revenue to build new towers and maintain the hardware on a predictable schedule. Remember you're getting in fact two services: the bytes over the air, and the network's availability over large stretches of geography. The first thing is marginal, the second thing is what actually costs serious money.

Paying per byte is more practical in Europe or Asia, where a national quasi-public provider owns much of the infrastructure and leases access to resellers, and the state takes on the actual risk of undersubscription. Pay-as-you-go doesn't work for people who have to build antennas, you just can't map the revenue to the expenses without making prices so awful (and unpredictable) that consumers are scared off. They really need the extra money they get from under-users to subsidize building out network, and the problem with over-subscribers they're free-riding on the flat rate. The contract is phrased in terms of services instead of bytes, but that's what the subscribers agreed to, so they should be held to their agreement.

Go ahead, make my day! (1)

Geraden (15689) | about 3 years ago | (#35531692)

I'm past my contract terms with them and sick of them, to boot! If they do this to me, then I'll tell them to take their plan and shove it.

That makes sense (4, Insightful)

macemoneta (154740) | about 3 years ago | (#35531716)

It's like when your ISP charges you more to use a desktop than a notebook or tablet. Oh wait, no they don't. That would be crazy.

Legality? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531722)

How is this even allowed? I pay for 2GB of data per month. Whether the traffic goes to my iPhone or to my iPhone and then to my iPad isn't really any of AT&T's concern. There is no extra overhead, no extra work on their side. All the routing is done on the phone itself. This sounds like a double charge on a single service. Am I missing something?

Re:Legality? (1)

MichaelKristopeit414 (2018850) | about 3 years ago | (#35531902)

Am I missing something?

an identity.

AT&T made deals concerning devices with guaranteed lacking features. circumventing those guarantees violate all infrastructure designs based on them.

Re:Legality? (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 3 years ago | (#35532112)

How is this even allowed? I pay for 2GB of data per month. Whether the traffic goes to my iPhone or to my iPhone and then to my iPad isn't really any of AT&T's concern. There is no extra overhead, no extra work on their side. All the routing is done on the phone itself. This sounds like a double charge on a single service. Am I missing something?

Your phone company squeezing more charge for something they don't even provide themselves, and netting hundreds of thousands of subscriptions because many people will likely not even pay attention to that notice that was sent out? I'd say you figured out exactly the whole situation with crystal clear insight.

Re:Legality? (1)

rritterson (588983) | about 3 years ago | (#35532160)

Not if you contractually agree not to tether when you sign up for service.

Of course, if they change my plan to charge me for tethering and I'm NOT tethering, well, that would probably not be legal.

Re:Legality? (4, Informative)

jambarama (784670) | about 3 years ago | (#35532232)

Yep, you're missing the incredibly 1-sided contracts users sign to access any cell networks. Here are some relevant gems from the AT&T contract:

We may, at our discretion, suspend your account if we believe your data usage is excessive, unusual or is better suited to another rate plan.

Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/smartphone to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH\® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose.

Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network...

Tethering without a tethering plan breaches your contract, so they can refuse to provide service, request you pay more for your plan, or do about anything.

Using Android (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531726)

I use my Nexus One as a tether and WiFi hotspot. Not sure if AT&T can detect that, but I haven't heard anything from them yet.

Hmmmm... (5, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | about 3 years ago | (#35531760)

Isn't it against regulation to force you into an added-charge service unless you opt out?

Re:Hmmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532072)

Yes. I assume you are free to drop AT&T service for no charge, like when they change TOS.

What's the problem, in the end? (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | about 3 years ago | (#35531762)

As long as the customers pay for the services I don't see any problem with tethering (whatever medium they sue).
It could be an EULA issue. But then it'd be an issue between Apple and the users ...
What's the problem, in the end?

Re:What's the problem, in the end? (2)

webdog314 (960286) | about 3 years ago | (#35532094)

The problem is that they offered "unlimited" data plans and still (stupidly) honor them. People tethering with an unlimited plan would be a huge drain on their network. The solution is to finally face the music and drop the pretense of "unlimited data". Like you said, if you're paying for the service (the "service" being a set amount of data per month 2/4/6 gig etc) then what's the big deal? If I only have 2 gigs of data to burn through, tethered or not, I'm not going to waste it on Netflix. Maybe some people are willing to pay $200 a month for 20 gigs of data to their phone... but if they allow that kind of plan then they're idiots. They need to stop offering what they can't support. Period. Unlike wired services (cable, fibre, dsl) overall mobile bandwidth *does* have a limit. More towers only makes for better coverage, not more bandwidth to split between the users in that area, so carriers need to realistically sell that bandwidth so as to not overload their networks.

Net Neutrality violation (2)

mozumder (178398) | about 3 years ago | (#35531764)

so, this is why we need net neutrality, so that ISPs don't charge based on content type (iPhone data vs. tethered data).

Re:Net Neutrality violation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35532046)

Have read the Bill, that wouldn't be covered it's not a content issue. Net Neutrality is not for the benefit of end-users at all. READ THE BILL before you support it.

Having owned both, Android wins (2)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 3 years ago | (#35531796)

heh, when i ran 100+ connections and d/l 12G of torrents in 2 days on my wife's non-jailbroke android phone, which we tethered when a drunk driver took out our internet for 12 days, all we got was a warning after 10-12G that we'd be reduced to dialup speeds. Which, considering I had no dial tone (also due to drunk driver who smashed telephone pole[3rd time]), was better than the alternative, and apparently better than if we'd done this with my jailbroken iPhone (which I got for free, and would never buy, but also would not just throw in the trash).

Re:Having owned both, Android wins (1)

Xacid (560407) | about 3 years ago | (#35531972)

"all we got was a warning after 10-12G that we'd be reduced to dialup speeds."

This is how it should be. Charging for simply enabling another device to use bandwidth that you're ALREADY paying for is fucking stupid. I don't even understand how that makes sense or why customers would tolerate it.

Anywho - with that said - which companies out there offer android/iphones, allow tethering, and don't ream their customers? I'm an ATT customer (since 2003) and pretty much ready to jump ship.

Re:Having owned both, Android wins (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 3 years ago | (#35532024)

this was a T-Mobile HTC Dream (like $130 in 2007??), based in northern Virginia ("heart of the internet" area).

What about Android? (1)

parann0yed (878137) | about 3 years ago | (#35531888)

Being new to Android I wonder if they would be able to tell if we were tethering. Looking at a couple of videos on how this is done, I don't see any additional apps that need to be installed.

Re:What about Android? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 3 years ago | (#35532064)

With a little peeking at the packets, yes - just look at an HTTP request, see the user agent. Wouldn't even be hard.

Enough (1)

drb226 (1938360) | about 3 years ago | (#35531912)

Dear American entrepreneurs,

These data "plans" are absurd. Please start a few competing wireless data service companies that actually charge a fair price: pay for what you use. None of these 'unlimited' data lies, none of this "pay for each device that connects" crap, no throttling traffic types you deem 'less important', just let us pay for the bandwidth we use. Bonus points if you charge less during non-peak hours. Sure, studies have "shown" this is not an optimal business plan. But honestly, screwing customers is not a good business plan; if you screw your customers just a little less, you should be able to beat the competition.

Re:Enough (1)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | about 3 years ago | (#35532058)

Yeah, I'll get right on that. Surely building up a company to take on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile shouldn't be too hard.

Re:Enough (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 3 years ago | (#35532230)

Every time pay-per-byte is mentioned on this site, people get frothy at the mouth. I'd suggest that your idea is doomed on that basis.

Actually... (1)

scurker (1381139) | about 3 years ago | (#35531916)

It sounds more like AT&T is targeting users who are using too much data [modmyi.com]. It seems to me that if you are staying within reasonable data limits and not using up crazy bandwidth you should be fine.

Doesn't make sense for limited plans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531940)

You could argue for this being a reasonable restriction for unlimited plans, but for limited plans it makes no more sense then a utility charging differently depending on how I use water or electricity.

Honesty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35531968)

If you have an I-phone guess what? You signed a contract with AT&T. You agreed that you would not tether without a tether plan. If you bought an I-phone you agreed not to jailbreak it or fuck with it in ways that are prohibited by Apple. If you do not agree to these ideas then stop supporting these companies. It is as simple as that. I do question the legality of forcing the 4 GB tether plan, but good luck to anyone who tries to fight it in court. "Well you see judge, I was violating my contract with AT&T, because I did not want to pay for tethering and they charged me for tethering anyway even though I did not sign up for it. Guess the moral of the story is to be honest and not try and cheat the system. If you disagree with the system, then work to change it.

Error in summary: $20 more per month, not $45. (1)

BcNexus (826974) | about 3 years ago | (#35532036)

If you would like to continue tethering...here are details on the plan:
-DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering
--$45 per month (this gives you 4GB in total, combining both your smartphone data plan for $25 and the tethering feature, $20)

Re:Error in summary: $20 more per month, not $45. (1)

ptbarnett (159784) | about 3 years ago | (#35532310)

Error in summary: $20 more per month, not $45.

Mod the parent up. The error is in the original article, as well.

AT&T charges $25/month for the 2 gigabytes/month data plan for the iPhone. Adding tethering increases the charge to $45/month for 4 gigabytes/month. However, if you are currently on the $30/month "unlimited" plan, it's only $15/month more to change to the 4 gigabytes/month + tethering plan.

I switched from the unlimited dataplan when iOS 4.3 was released, as I could finally replace my Sprint MiFi hotspot with my iPhone. I didn't feel like I was giving up anything significant, because I never used more than 200 megabytes/month on my iPhone alone.

When I used the MiFi all day at a client, I never exceeded 100 megabytes/day, and was usually in the 50-60 megabyte/day range. I could use 100 megabytes/day all month, and still have 1 gigabyte/month left for my iPhone usage. In the unlikely event I exceed the 4 gigabyte/month cap, it's only $10/gigabyte, or 1 cent per megabyte -- and I can live with that.

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