AT&T cracking down on unlimited tethering

gibby71

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Tell me where in the contract it excludes using third party apps for tethering.

THe way I look at it is, if I want to use AT&T's tethering service, then I have to pay for it. I have found a better alternative that I use instead. The data issue is a whole different issue. Where in my contract does it say I can only use my data for stuff happening on my iPhone?
I hate it... but it is in there.. Link

... 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....
 

goobs22xx

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How about the unlimited buffet? You pay a flat a mount for "as much as you can eat."

But tethering is akin to taking a bunch of extra food, putting it in your backpack, and bringing it out to your friend in the car. That's not what the deal was.

I agree with the comments about the prices. I have no intention of paying AT&T for tethering. But are they "evil" for charging extra for it? I don't think so.

And why do I want to always spell tethering "teathering"?
Your analogy is flawed in two ways. You're bringing in another party as a beneficiary of the service as well as taking the "food" (data) outside of the confines of the restaurant/one meal (the month that you pay for).

To address the latter half, the "deal" was that you got to eat all that you could in one sitting, or that you got to use all the data that you could in one month. The moment you leave the restaurant/month, the "deal" has concluded.

To the point of the service being shared amongst multiple people, that is an extreme scenario that I didn't think of, one where two people leech off of one connection for a significant amount of usage over the course of an entire month. That said, its pretty unlikely that an egregious offense would ever come out of a situation like that, given the monthly cost of an iPhone plan compared to a wifi setup (I'm operating on the assumption that you're bringing up a room mate type scenario where two or more people are tethering full time to one person's iPhone). I see that being such a fringe extreme case that it isn't really worth considering compared to the number of people who would lightly use their plan to tether a netbook for handful of megs each month. Using a phone as a 3g hub has the built in detractor of not being able to handle that many connections effectively for any kind of moderate browsing, making the scenario even more unlikely.

I'm talking about one person, going in to a buffet, and eating food until they're full. It shouldn't matter if they're eating chicken and green beans or corn with their pork. Food is food, and if I eat it until I am full, that is the cost that the buffet assumed by offering an unlimited meal in the first place.

For the record, I am light both in my food consumption and in my data usage :D.
 

Santa

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Your analogy is flawed in two ways.
OK.. Maybe not the greatest analogy, but:

I see that being such a fringe extreme case that it isn't really worth considering compared to the number of people who would lightly use their plan to tether a netbook for handful of megs each month.
The way I read most of these posts, we aren't talking about a handful of megs. Often my cell connection if faster than the wifi at the hotel I'm staying at. If I could tether for no additional cost, I'd almost always link to my phone and do all my laptop based work at night off of the iPhone. That's a lot of data.
 

mcaram16

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I think we need to figure out exactly how they are determining who is using tethering "illegally". I use miwi every so often to tether my iPad to my iPhone and have not received any messages. I also want to add that I hardly ever go over 1GB for the month and I have the unlimited plan. I personally thing they are targeting the heavy hitters. I'm going to increase my usage daily and see if at any point I get any messages from ATT.
 

iP5

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TOS is often a non-negotiable one sided document and in any case there's usually a clause that allows them to amend/rewrite the TOS at any time.

Fortunately consumer's rights, advertising laws and "good faith" can be employed to counter the fine print. For example on most of your phones there's a certain license/TOS that prohibits jailbreaking. The company goes so far as viewing the act a criminal act of theft. Fortunately sometimes the companies self interests aren't awarded by the courts. I'd suggest such a view should be applied to tethering.

I'm also surprised that no one has brought up the issue that unless the device/platform actually rats you out, privacy laws apply, such that the carrier does not have a right in inspect the contents of your packets, to verify that tethering has actually occurred.

Anyone one to comment on whether or not the regular data service plans are sold to mifi user's. Even if the TOS is different between these two types of consumers, there are consumer laws that stipulate that the exact same service can not be priced differently according to some consumer attribute; mifi data user vs smartphone data user.

Sent from my Desire HD using Tapatalk
 

iP5

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I hate it... but it is in there.. Link

... 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....
So is use of a BT headset, hands-free device, video output cable, audio cable or transmitter, constitute an act of tethering if you stream info/data immediately received from AT&T to some additional device?

Sent from my Desire HD using Tapatalk
 

engelke2010

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I think I wouldn't be as mad at AT&T if people could pay an additional amount - though not $20 a month - to be able to tether but also keep their unlimited data if they were grandfathered in. I have done some tethering, but not that much - maybe 1 GB or so. My total data usage for the month is over 4.5 GB because the data service in my area is better than it had been for many months so I am using it more.
 

Booyow1204

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I totally agree w/most of you that's it's kinda crappy AT&T is saying you can't tether even though you pay for "unlimited" data. But whether we like it or not AT&T is totally w/in their rights to change plans "accordingly" I'm almost certain this specific issue is written into the langauge of our contract, and tethering w/out a tethering plan is a listed "no-no"
 

ZR_Yancy

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Why do so many people feel entitled to free tethering? Verizon doesn't offer free tethering, either. None of the carriers do. And Verizon will throttle speeds if you exceed a certain amount of data.
Doesn't Sprint offer free (wired) tethering? I could've swore my friend was using his EVO for tethering and he wasn't paying extra. He told me that if he was to use the wireless hotspot, he would have to pay extra.
 

kyleplusitunes

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Doesn't Sprint offer free (wired) tethering? I could've swore my friend was using his EVO for tethering and he wasn't paying extra. He told me that if he was to use the wireless hotspot, he would have to pay extra.
Maybe, but sprint's 3G service sucks so bad it should be free, I had a sprint overdrive the average 3G speed was .50 mb/s and 500 ping, where AT&T gives me 3mb down 1 up and 100 ping
 

acosmichippo

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Please, give some kind of reasoning outside of "technically its not in your contract" as to why AT&T (or any phone company) is in the right here. We are paying to use their resources, and it is only through the cartel-like approach from the phone companies that we're being charged twice for that resource.
I imagine it's due to this:

"When AT&T sells a smartphone user a data allocation, it is gambling that many users will never come close to the cap. Depending on what you choose to believe, this roll of the bandwidth dice is either used to make more money or to reduce pricing across the board for all customers -- without intimate access to AT&Ts accounting processes, it's impossible to know for sure which interpretation is more correct. The structure is analogous to how an airline will overbook a flight while forecasting that, on average, there'll be a couple of no-shows or last-minute rescheduled trips, so everything will work out without anyone getting bumped.

Tethering often tips the odds of the game so the house always loses."




tl;dr: ATT did not price their data plans with tethering in mind.



Full version:

When ATT prices its services (like any service provider - cell phones, insurance, etc), they assume its users will be in accordance with its TOS (and probably also Apple's EULA). This means that they're assuming the data in your plan is only going to your iPhone, because that's what their terms are (nevermind if it's right or wrong). Now the point you (and most others) are making is that you are paying for data, and it shouldn't matter how you get that data. The problem with that is I can nearly 100% guarantee you ATT has found through various studies that tethering tends to increase data usage. Is that the case 100% of the time? Probably not, but when all the stuff you can do on a jailbroken/tethered device is taken into account (3G unrestrictor, torrents, streaming uncompressed HD video, downloading flash elements, etc), i'm betting tetherers inherently use more data than non-tetherers.

But so what? As long as I stay under my allotted amount, why should ATT care? They care because ATT does not plan for all its users to use 100% of their data. They plan for them using a very specific fraction based on their studies (studies based on their TOS, remember). So if the tetherers (operating outside the parameters of the study) are factored into those figures, they probably increase the average data usage enough to cause ATT problems - either with pricing or increased burden on the network.




All that being said, I was a frequent user of MyWi when i had my iPad (via my iPhone), and I would still be using it if I had one. My justification is that my iPad was not jailbroken, so its data usage should be very similar to a stock iPhone's, and thusly would not cause ATT too much harm.

But it is still important to understand ATT (probably) isn't shamelessly profiteering.
 

kyleplusitunes

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Not if your in Sprints WiMax coverage.
Problem with that was I was grandfathered in to sprints 3G unlimited plan, I travel a lot and need 3G coverage, they told me I would need to switch to a 3G/4g plan for 69.99 with a 5gb 3G limit to get unlimited 4g, otherwise I could have unlimited 3G and no access to their 4g network.

Needless to say I canceled that contract, thinking about going with verizon's miwi for a backup.
 

JimD

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You seem to know about this. Do you think the teathering apps like mywi can fake the difference so att docent know?
If TTL is the means of detection, it should be possible to set this value on the tethered device such that once the phone has decremented the TTL by one it will match the value in packets generated by the phone itself.

I only use MyWi as an emergency alternative to my home cable ISP. It allows me to travel around (away from home) and still access my work desktop machine via VPN if I get a call while on duty (on the weekend, for example). I can VPN using my iPhone, and I can remote desktop using VNC on my iPhone - but the screen is so damned tiny. Using a tethered laptop is so much easier. The data is the same either way I do it - so in my case AT&T is not losing anything by my use of MyWi to tether.
 

JimD

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If Apple made an iPad-like dock for the iPhone, that just served as an iPhone touchscreen the size of an iPad, I would not need tethering.
 

kdarling

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It's not about the total amount of data over a month.

It's about how much of the available bandwidth is consumed at any moment, and by how many paying users.

Cells have limited bandwidth and backhaul that need to be shared by all.

Dozens of users with fairly slow data needs is easy to handle, even with a non-upgraded cell tower with only 10Mbps backhaul. They could use 2GB total each, but doing it over a month is not much at one time.

OTOH, just a handful of people tethering on powerful laptops can suck up that entire bandwidth while still only paying for one user each. Each could use 2GB in a single hour.

The answer: either throttle the faster tethered users (not a good businesss user idea) or charge them more since they're consuming like more people.
 

goobs22xx

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It's not about the total amount of data over a month.

It's about how much of the available bandwidth is consumed at any moment, and by how many paying users.

Cells have limited bandwidth and backhaul that need to be shared by all.

Dozens of users with fairly slow data needs is easy to handle, even with a non-upgraded cell tower with only 10Mbps backhaul. They could use 2GB total each, but doing it over a month is not much at one time.

OTOH, just a handful of people tethering on powerful laptops can suck up that entire bandwidth while still only paying for one user each. Each could use 2GB in a single hour.

The answer: either throttle the faster tethered users (not a good businesss user idea) or charge them more since they're consuming like more people.
I still find it difficult to believe that there are that many hardcore users, and even if there are, they should be the ones being chased, not tetherers (word? lol) in general. I mean, ATT has said (in press releases from their axing the unlimited plan) that 98% of users use less than 2GB/month. I also don't believe the difference in usage between a laptop and an iPhone to be that much more. Remember, we're using "the internet, in your pocket". Its not like we're sitting around browsing nothing but mobile sites until you turn on mywi.

To whoever it was that mentioned that its due to ATT not banking on people using everything they pay for. Sorry, no sympathy from me. I cannot put into words how frustrating I find the businesss model of "we need to not provide our service to maximize profits." (ex: insurance companies).

And lastly, this should really become a nonissue now that there are data limits in place. Fine, you didn't bank on me using 10 GBs before when it was unlimited, but now I've only got two/month. If I can burn that up in an hour (your words), then I won't be a problem for long.

Has anyone made any other discoveries as to how this is being tracked by them? Is it based on data usage or a technical issue?

Just my .02 on it. I guess some of you guys are cool with it. I think its silly. C'est la vie.
 

iP5

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My carrier charges extra for tethering. I've been wifi tethering since Donut/3G and have yet to be contacted/texted.

I'm thinking a mole must be in the phone for them to trace you.

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bballrob

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Ok,so it's in the TOS. I suppose I can live with that. But the more I think about this, I think there is something more bothersome as it applies to people on limited plans. If you are on a limited plan, why should it matter to them whether you use that allotment on your phone or tether it off to another device?