Not So Fast: Tethering Will Ultimately Be at the Discretion of the Carrier


And so Vic Gundotra announced tethering and wireless hotspot abilities would be in Froyo, and Android fans rejoiced. But the questions lingered: how exactly will wireless carriers handle said new additions in terms of data plans and additional fees. It’s looking like the carriers will be the ones that get to decide that. Just as they have modified existing versions of Android to be whatever they wanted it to be, carriers will be able to disable or charge for tethering if they so choose, or so the word is from Hiroshi Lockheimer, head of Android engineering.


He says that Android has no built in way to monitor specific data usage in terms of tethering or hotspot use, so it looks like most users will either get all or nothing (or all at an additional price, much like the HTC EVO 4G). Phones that use the Google Experience (stock) version of Android could possibly get tethering for free, and that would include the Nexus One and Motorola Droid (both phones are rumored to be getting the Android 2.2 update in June). I have a hard time believing Verizon would allow such a feature to get through without milking as much money from it as possible, but surely Google’s own phone would have to get the feature. We’ll just have to wait and see how carriers handle it.

[via TechCrunch]

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. Hopefully 1 carrier will not be total jerks. Then competition can do the rest.

    Or I guess I will have to buy the next google developer phone.

  2. AT&T you better not screw this up…. You messed with the Backflip enough do not mess up the 2.2 update……….

  3. I just have one thing to say to this..

    Well DUH! Did anyone actually think this was going to fly under their radar? Rooting will always have its place. Sure there’s a better option for A2SD with 2.2 but I’ll still keep my root for ad blocking if nothing else.

  4. No carrier is going to allow tethering without charging a premium.

    On the other hand, I have been using PDANet on my Droid since the day I got it and although it is a violation of the Verizon ToC, I haven’t heard a peep from them.

    How would they even be able to tell if I was tethering my laptop instead of using my data plan on my droid?

  5. Thank god we don’t have all that carrier controlled bullshit here in Europe…

  6. if you have unsubsidized nexus one with ATT, and get Froyo with hotspot, how would they be able to stop you? ATT doesn’t control your nexus one…

    just curious.

  7. Fortunately my carrier has no control over the Android that’s running on my Nexus One. Why do you think I bought this phone, anyway? Hopefully this will still be the case for future Google phones, even after the web store is gone.

  8. hooray for unlocked nexus one

  9. Good news and bad news for AT&T victims.
    First the bad news: AT&T will charge for tethering. They do now on non-Android phones. So why would they let you have tethering for free on Android?
    The good news: Based on some assumptions. To activate tethering, you are not going to need to load a different kernel or software. Therefore the kernel will probably have some of what you need like netfilter, the lack of which makes it more difficult to tether today. How long before an unofficial tethering app is available? Oh, and this good news assumption would apply to Froyo on all carriers. If you don’t have to change kernels to tether and have a wifi hotspot, then the kernel probably has netfilter compiled in.
    Worst case: there is always Proxoid.

  10. WiFi tethering for free is currently available on Verizon with the Palm Pre Plus. So with any luck, Verizon will extend this to it’s Android offerings too.

  11. Not at all. My carrier offers me a phone/data-plan, how I use it is completely irrelevant to them.

  12. thankgod i relised at&t ruined th android software on there phones so i got a nexus one!

  13. Well obviously the carriers will restrict, except for possibly T-Mobile, since they’ll do ANYTHING for a subscription.

    That’s why there will still be one big honking reason to root!

  14. Oh yes. Also another reason to have the N1 on At&t. I love tooting my own N1 horn.

  15. I wonder if this is part or all of the reason why Verizon and Sprint turned down the Nexus one. ?

  16. As was noted on another site, “Given that the Droid is supposed to get the update in June, I imagine we’ll see it in September.” As a Droid user, I wish I could disbelieve this.

    Maybe that’s too cynical… we’ll definitely have it by August, right? Right?

    …drat. Maybe I should’ve jumped ship to a Nexus One.

  17. LOL, for all those who assumed that verizon, sprint and others would just simply say sure go ahead and thether your life away on our dime…..Shame on you.

    But me personally I dont care what sprint does, because as a EVO owner in the near future, I will be rooted and could care less. Free tehtering is around the corner for all rooted phones regardless.

  18. I’ve been running PDAnet for 5 years daily on my phone, for all my personal data usage at work, onto my laptop. Sprint has NEVER complained. I keep the usage below 5gb/month. I’m guessing that if u keep the data usage within the “normal range” of what a heavy user may pull on a phone alone, the carrier doesn’t care. After all, you’re paying for it, and whether you pull the data via phone or tethered connection, it’s the same result.

  19. @swazedahustla free tethering is already available for rooted phones. This just means google has their own app to do it, lets hope it is better than the crappy default mail client.

  20. Verizon will not give up its cash cow. rooting will be next for me. I’ve had the incredible a few weeks and love native USB teathering without paying VZW, but since they will have control over software, bet ya wifi will be disabled since its a $15/month bonus for them for no added work. They’ll just charge you $15/month for the unlimited data that you already pay for.

  21. As I understand it, Verizon *does* know when you’re tethering your phone with PDANet/Root, etc., but they’re currently not going after the tetherers.

    I would expect that Froyo will bring with it an official Verizon Wifi tethering app, and a $30/mo for 5 GB plan, and then go after the TOS violators.

  22. And here people….some pellets thought apples new OS was Hanna smoke androids OS ha! Android wont be beat y0!

  23. I’ve been tether my G1 for over a year now with PDAnet.
    Works great ! Well worth the price.



  24. Finals are done! woo! and i got an A in ochem! woo! and now im drunk! wooo

  25. Wow, i’m glad i have T-Mobile who doesn’t charge anything for tethering, i should know because i use the wifi router on my hd2 and i don’t ever get charged for it. I’m definitely glad that tmo is coming out with the sidekick twist this summer also because that will get the android 2.2 update or come with it and that phone has better specs than the evo 4g from sprint.

  26. Glad I have a Nexus One. Fast updates and no carrier BS.

  27. ok now we already know canadian carriers wont allow this. especially rogers (aka robbers)

  28. I would ASSume that Sprint is charging $10 extra because they know Evo owners will be tethering their 4g phone; therefore, charge extra for the suckers that do not know better and slightly recover the cost from those that do not bend over for the big carriers!

  29. If Verizon knows what’s good for them, they’ll offer tethering for free. After all, they allow free tethering on their Palm Pre Plus, so I can’t see them not getting blasted if they don’t follow suit on their Android phones.

  30. If the tetherning is performed using usual NAT/DNSmasq techniques, the provider have virtually no way of knowing you are using a wifi personal hotspot to flow your other devices. The only elements leaking are the User-Agent (easilly patchable event, could event be “at-the-fly”), the amount of multiple TCP connections (Android generate more and more TCP so this might be a bit trick to threashold for them) or “odd server” access (did you know that your Androphone need access to Windows update server or Ubuntu APT repositories server ? ;-) ).

    I am not sure that even if your provider forbid by contract the user of “router” mode, you could not still use it under the fair use umbrella. Ey, they provide Internet access or only “web+mail to one device” ?

  31. Hiroshi! I remember him from the Be days too…

  32. This isn’t such a big surprise- there’s been plenty of previous coverage on carriers being hesitant about tethering. Not saying that it won’t happen, but it probably won’t be as smooth of an integration as we all hoped it would be.

  33. I buy data from Verizon. That’s all they need to know.

  34. The only way the networks can tell is on the amount of data you use. If you use 2 or 3GB in a month, they will think that something’s up. As might have happened in my case with an old phone and O2. Got a letter from “Network Risk Management” stating that they believed that I was violating the ToS and recommended that I moderate my usage.

  35. Why would that be such a surprise, given how much Verizon has changed from their old days? IIRC, Verizon allows the Palm Pre to tether and even use its hotspot capabilities without extra cost. If Verizon were to unleash that on the Droid(s), that would make the phones that much more unbeatable.

    I’d be more concerned about Froyo not showing up in June (rather, November), but I think we’ll have no issues with tethering.

  36. I have a nexus one so I guess I’m not worried :)

    I’ll take the loss of an optical trackpad and have a blackberry style ball with the added benifit of freedom and true google experiance anyday.

    I dont get people who buy carrier subsidized phones and pretty much sign up to appleistic tyranny.

  37. As usual any unkind comments to HEAD ASSHOLE (Kevin Krause) are quickly removed! What’s the problem – don’t like hearing the truth ASSHOLE??

    Your such a MORON.

  38. I don’t see why they don’t just allow tethering but keep the 5 GB limit. Then if people are doing serious tethering, the carriers could sell true unlimited plans for an extra fee.

  39. @Craig… if you don’t have an iPhone, and are w/ AT&T… you’re doing something terribly wrong w/ your life. Please ditch the orange and blue monster and come join the rest of the free world. Our Android phones are better over here anyways. Lol

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