AT&T is cracking down hard on iPhone and other smartphone customers engaged in unauthorized tethering of their devices' data connections to other devices.
AT&T has a
message for customers who've been tethering their smartphones' data connections
to nearby laptops without paying for it: Stop it. Right now.
A handful of
applications for jailbroken smartphones, including MyWi, allow owners to tether
without having to shell out an additional fee to AT&T. (Users with "rooted"
Android smartphones can also install a wireless tether via an easy-to-download program
However, the carrier has now figured out a way to identify at least some of
these unauthorized tethers-and according to a variety of online reports, it's
begun sending around e-mail warning them to either halt the practice or sign up
for its DataPro plan.
customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices,
like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones-a practice commonly known as
tethering," reads the e-mail, as reprinted March 18 on Boy Genius Report
and other blogs and Websites. "Our records show that you
use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan."
from corporate-speak: Gotcha!
little technology lesson out of the way, the e-mail then invites the customer
to either call the carrier or log onto their account, and subscribe to the
DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering plan. That costs $45 per month-the
smartphone data plan for $25, on top of a $20 tethering charge-with an
additional $10 for each GB used above the allotted four.
"If we don't
hear from you, we'll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after
March 27, 2011," it continues. "The new plan-whether you sign up on your own or
we automatically enroll you-will replace your current smartphone data plan,
including if you are on an unlimited data plan."
discontinue unauthorized tethering, apparently, will not be forced onto a
different data plan. AT&T's e-mail does not explain how it managed to track
down those unauthorized tethers, but the blog Cult of Mac
posted an alleged response from an AT&T spokesperson, saying that "our
network is able to determine if a smartphone customer is using the device as a
broadband connection for other devices."
previously been a little slow on the tethering bandwagon, particularly with
regard to the iPhone. In early February, however, the carrier began offering an
AT&T Mobile Hotspot application that allowed "select smartphone customers"
to use their phones as a WiFi mobile hotspot for up to five other devices.
AT&T's arch-rival, Verizon, launched a tethering-capable iPhone 4 on its
own network around that time.
4.3, introduced March 2, offers a Personal Hotspot for the GSM-based iPhone 4,
which runs on AT&T's network (as opposed to the Verizon version, which is
based on Code Division Multiple Access).
Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3 lets you bring WiFi with you anywhere you
go, by allowing you to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection with up to
five devices in a combination of up to three WiFi, three Bluetooth and one USB
device," read Apple's statement on the matter. "Every connection is
password-protected, and when not in use, Personal Hotspot turns itself off to
save battery life."
very intent on bringing the hammer down on those users who tether via a jailbroken
application. It probably won't win them any additional fans among