Developer: Troubled Times Ahead for Anyone Who Roots


I read a troubling thread over at MyDroidWorld this weekend from famed community developer P3Droid. His report spoke of an industry-wide movement to crack down on users who root their devices. Yes, tethering your data is a violation of your contract and any carrier has the right to shut you down and make you pay for that right. But it’s more than just “illegal” use of data if he’s to be believed.

Starting with the locked bootloader trkend that seems to be taking off, it seemed Motorola was the only manufacturer keen on locking their devices down for one reason or another, but P3Droid says that isn’t the case. (We know HTC’s newer line of phones implement newer, tougher security.) It’s a mix of carriers, OEMs, and Google themselves working together to find ways to better “protect” users. This means implementing security features that circumvents common exploits used to gain root access.

The end result is supposed to ensure that no malicious applications can steal a user’s data. (Something that has actually become a reality as of late.) That’s noble, but the next bit of information is what really worries me – carriers and OEMs are supposedly beginning to implement tracking applications that will allow them to know who’s on a rooted phone and carrying out actions such as unauthorized tethering. He reports that there are several different methods they implement.

They can simply see which MEID numbers refuse over the air updates. It’s common for custom ROM developers to disable that functionality to ensure the users of those ROMs aren’t interrupted. (And to make sure any OTA doesn’t somehow brick their phones.) Verizon seemed to be the first, but he reports that all major carriers have expressed their interest in it and are pleased with how well it works. It’s not yet known which devices carry this tracking application, if any at all.

“So why don’t developers just remove that tracking application?” That’s a good question, but a horrible answer is to follow – your phone would no longer be able to operate on the network via voice or data. And if the carriers don’t want to go to such extremes, they could simply just throttle your data speeds – Verizon reportedly successfully tested this on several devices that met the conditions.

None of this is confirmed, but P3Droid is a name that we trust after all he’s done for the development community. None of this is 100% going down for now, but just the thought of it is quite unsettling. If true, we hope Google and its partners reconsider such practices and come up with better ways to protect the users who they claim they’re protecting. (It really sounds like they’re just intending to punish the users that they can’t trust with their chain-free devices.) What are your thoughts on all of this? [MyDroidWorld via AndroidForums, Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. hahahahhaa, dumb americans, this would never happen in Norway ^^
    And with a phone without a locked bootloader it won’t be a problem :D

    1. Yeah Dario! It’s a good thing Google is a Norwegian company, and HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Sony and LG are all based in Oslo, so this won’t affect you at all! Oh, wait, NONE of those companies are Norwegian, and I highly doubt any of them are going to make special edition, unlocked/encrypted phones for Norway. Actually, the last I looked, the Motorola Droid1(Milestone) was locked down everywhere BUT the US. Norway is a beautiful country, but it isn’t a magical land where Android users get special treatment by the manufacturers. Keep in mind; the carriers supply your service, not manufacture your phones. You may still have wireless tethering (never used it myself except to do a speed test), but if a Taiwanese or Korean manufacturer locks the bootloaders on THEIR phones (they don’t belong to you yet) They are going to do it.
      Jeg er også Scandanavian. Vennligst stopp postering uten å tenke. Jeg føler meg som en idiot for selv å ha lest innlegget. Ha en fin dag.

      1. Google translate is my friend.

      2. Fool. :D He was talking about tethering. :D We have free tethering, without special data plan.

        1. Yes, I know, I even said as much. Reread my post and try again..

    2. When I was on a business trip to Norway last November, I couldn’t even by a PAYG SIM card without a Norwegian passport. And the hotel charged $35 a night for WiFi… Left a bad taste in my mouth…

    3. Nothing really does happen in Norway.

  2. At some point in the next two years, besides drag & drop, Flash media and USB options, Android will be just a s strict as Apple. Let us hope an “androidTunes” interface is not forced on folks as well.

  3. This is all about tethering. I’m not cheap. So Its not hurting me if I’m no longer able to do this. Rooting to Get rid of bloatware I have zero problem with. But don’t ruin data for everyone cuz you want to save a few pennies.

    1. I’m glad you’re okay with paying twice for the same data. Some of us are not.

    2. @3 phones, we are not talking about a few pennies to use the tethering feature, We are talking about $30/month, $360/year for something that is native to the OS. It should be illegal for the carriers to charge for a native OS feature. What’s next? A charge to use the music player in Android? A fee to use the HDMI out function?

    3. This isn’t about tethering at all. It comes stock on Nexus phones, and can be done without root with apps from the market.

      1. Yea, my Cliq2 is a wifi hot spot, unrooted.

  4. Meh.
    Rooting was important to me before the OS started maturing. Now all the features I used to root for are offered by default or through apps, and the home replacements are a decent substitute for replacement ROMs. The OS is only gonna get better too – system wide HW acceleration etc. will mean an even less demand for rooting and putting in memory tweaks / overclocking etc.

    1. count me in your camp. rooting a g1 was a rite of passage for us early adopters as the OS was still missing a lot of key features. but its not really worth the hassle to me anymore.

      i got a g2 about 3 months ago and i am still on the stock ROM because it does everything i need it to. the only thing i really want is wifi tethering and maybe a little overclocking but those are not necessary. i won’t be hacking the g2 unless i don’t get my gingerbread this summer. :)

  5. Just a thought, was the thread made on April 1st?

    1. No p3droid posted starting the april 2nd

  6. Wow… Can believe Verizon, ATT, Motorolla and maybe a few more manufacturers doing this to appease the carrier dictators but I doubt google would stand for this. Google would get the biggest backlash because so much more is expected of them. I don’t see this happening without a huge fight.

    1. Google doesn’t really have that much of a choice and there are legitimate reasons to lock down the bootloader and I’m sure they will still have a developer’s device that allows all the hackery one wants to do.

  7. If this is for real, I’m fairly sure that ROM developers will be able to spoof the application in question with some time and trial. Just make it appear to be running stock and tell the carrier what they want to hear. In the end, you can’t outsmart the dev community.

    1. My thoughts exactly… if the phone can be cracked, I’d bet that data returned from app can be spoofy.

    2. I’m sure that as long as a workaround is possible, a work around will be done. As for tethering; I don’t really care. I use Verizon’s 3G and LTE, while VZWs 3G is very reliable, it isn’t winning any speed races, and I’ve always laughed when vzw or anybody wanted to charge monthly for a tether. With LTE on the other hand, I’ve had more than a few people ask me about rooting and free wireless tethering because they had it in their head that they were going to replace their home ISP – which usually runs at least one or two computers, an x360 or PS3, possibly the TV or home theater – and of course, the phone itself. THAT is ignorant and as much as I hate to say it and play Devil’s Advocate; if people think that they are replacing their home networks with ANYBODYs new tech – LTE, WiMax, HSPA+, etc. (I refuse to call anything ‘4G’ I just stick to what they are); they will get no help from me at any price and I HOPE they get throttled. Think certain companies are benevolent and kind because of “unlimited data”? Watch what happens when they move to an even faster network and thousands of people decide that they’re going to use their phone tethers as replacements for all of their devices; if the network doesn’t throttle you, you don’t have to worry because instead of running a bunch of phones and a few tabs or laptops, the network is going to be so bogged down by people using their phones, while the spouse is on the computer, and one kid is playing xbox live and the other is streaming videos thru the home theater, that the entire network will ‘self throttle’ because it’s overloaded.
      The main reason I root is to remove the crap I don’t want, custom ROMs, changing fonts, themes, running a ROM built on a new OS version if I don’t feel like waiting months for the manufacturers and carriers to work all of their crap into the OS, general dev work, and over/underclocking.

    3. Seriously? If they could spoof that then why can’t they spoof the bootloader to accept custom ROMs? One would assume the OTA messaging would use some similar type of security. If that can’t be cracked, it’s just wishful thinking.

    4. I agree, it’s like cracking applications to run without discs. how long have they been trying to stop this with no noticeable impact? Where there’s a will there’s a way.

  8. You voluntarily signed a contract with your provider. By rooting and using services you haven’t contracted, you’ve breached your contract. Fair’s fair.

    1. However, many root to try other UIs, updated roms, and to remove bloatware. I knew my warranty was gone when I did it – I emailed my carrier and told them I had and didn’t care about my warranty. So – for the many that root for other advantages without the unpaid services this hurts.

      1. Right, but the measure of damages would depend on what you actually did.

        Example: Let’s say you did breach your contract by rooting your device, they couldn’t charge you for tethering your device unless you actually did tether your device.

        The one exception is if there’s a “liquidated damages” clause in the contract assuming you tether once you root. However, those clauses are almost always suspect in court. So, you could always sue saying you didn’t actually tether, so their post-root charge based in your breach is inappropriate.

        Bottom line: phone companies probably won’t fine you for rooting beyond what your rooting actually costs them.

        1. It’s not clear to me that contract prohibiting rooting per se would be at all legal – there was the court’s findings last year that rooting alone was ok. That left them free to void warranties tho, I’m ok with that.

          By rooting and getting rid of bloatware that was babbling home to the mothership behind my back (for offers I cared nothing for) – I’ve actually reduced their network load in my case. Seems if anything, I’ve actually helped rather than hurt their costs.

  9. The thread was actually made on the 2nd. P3Droid probably sat on that information so people wouldn’t think it was a joke. (He hasn’t come out and said it is a joke so far so I’m betting it isn’t.)

  10. Did we honestly not see this comming when Google wiyhheld Honeycomb cause of manufacturer UI’s?? And since I stopped flashing my phone, I could care less about people who break the warranties being punished.

  11. well, tbh, just because they know we aren’t updating via their network (and rooted) doesn’t mean we’re doing something illegal. there has to be more to it than this.

  12. This is pretty ridiculous, sure tethering is a violation of contract. But why should we pay more for a data plan when we are already over paying. It shouldn’t matter whether the data being used is coming from a laptop or a phone. I pay for an unlimited data plan, and i feel like i should be able to use it. Is anyone else fed up with how much carriers are restricting use? If i buy a PC i can pick and choose whatever OS i want, and hack it in anyway i please. It’s my computer i should be able to do whatever i want. And i definitely believe smartphones are the next generation of computer, so why are these manufacturer’s, and carrier’s limiting use and protecting the bootloader more and more?

    1. You pay $30 for unlimited data. Lte plans are $30 unlimited. 3G is DSL speeds, 4G is faster than cable. Do you think $30 for an unlimited home connection is fair?

      1. Unlimited anything will be shortly going the way of the dodo. Data caps are coming – the only one who hasn’t announced them yet to my knowledge is Sprint, and I fully expect them to follow suit eventually.

      2. Honestly no, but i don’t pay for it to be my home connection. I pay for it for mobile use. I just don’t see why i should pay $30 for unlimited mobile internet and $60 for home internet? I would gladly pay $80 a month for both to use it on whatever i want. If someone is using it solely as their home then i see a problem. But if you are using it on the go, or only for when you are not at home, i don’t see any reason why i should pay more.

        Guess i should have went a little more into detail in my first post.

      3. I pay $25 a month for unlimited cable internet. So, ya, sounds fair. Of course, the comparison isn’t fair since my 4G speeds are about half the speed of my home internet.

        1. $25 for cable internet? From whom?

          1. Comcast. It is an introductory offer, but is good for 6 months.

      4. For an “unlimited” home connection with a data cap of 2 or 5gb, yeah sounds perfectly fair.

      5. Why does it matter how you use the data? If they cap it, then it shouldn’t matter.

        If they don’t cap it and it’s truly unlimited, and they actually hope you wouldn’t use too much, then they are just being misleading with their marketing and what they’re saying is “Here you go, UNLIMITED Internet – just don’t use more than 5 GB or so, ok?”

        Either way the carriers are wrong for charging for tethering.

        1. I tether with Easy Tether. But, I don’t abuse it by streaming and
          downloading movies. I’m the exception. Wireless data bandwidth is limited.
          The more people that tether and abuse it, the slower the speed for
          everybody. It’s unlimited for phone use, because there’s only so much data a
          phone can pull down…you know what tethering to a PC can do. Unlimited was
          never meant for tethering purposes. I don’t know why that’s such a hard
          concept ti grasp. There is such a sense of entitlement among Android users.

    2. Just a note on tethering. There is a difference in the data you use. Not just in volume, but in velocity. When you tether to your phone, you use up data at a much quicker rate. You could be tethered to multiple devices or, simply, be tethered to your computer which, because of how web browsing defers on your computer versus your smartphone, uses up a great deal more data in the same amount of time.

      The point is that this increased speed of data use put added stress on the network which, since you didn’t buy a tethering plan, Verizon or any other carrier can not predict and adjust accordingly. That, and that they love money, is why they charge for tethering.

      As for the other things you said, I agree. Smartphones are a much more recent invention compared to the computer. It’s going to be a long process but we will get there in time.

      1. You lost me. Just how is web browsing on the computer (via a cell modem) different from browsing straight on the phone? How is it a quicker rate? Are you saying you spend less time per page when viewing on a computer instead of on your phone?

        1. I’m saying that you view webpages differently when you view them on a computer than on a cell phone. Just look. There are regular versions of a site and then there are mobile versions. The mobile versions display much less than do their full counterpart (not as much flash, only the bare-bones, etc.). Mobile versions have taken off and they alone, reduce a noticeable amount of strain on the network.

          Now, that’s just one example. There are other reasons but that one was the easiest one to explain.

          1. Who really uses mobile versions of sites though???

            On the rarity that i find a site that does not have a desktop/classic version I promptly load it up with skyfire in desktop mode… So does everyone else that I know (with a smartphone)

          2. Well if everyone you know does it then I guess everyone does.

            Except for the 10,000 or so hits per day the mobile website I develop for gets, and the tens of millions of hits to other mobile sites.

            For devs, mobile sites are a bonanza nearing the level of the original web boom 10 years ago. Everyone wants one, because their main sites suck on a small screen. Thank Christ for all the sucky websites out there!

          3. Well, then you are in the minority. I see mobile browsing more as a quick way to look up something than something to browse the entire web with. You go to it when you have to fact check or show something. In those cases, it is easier and faster to get around on the mobile version. Oh, yeah, that’s another reason. On 3G (4G is not very prominent yet) it takes a noticeable amount of time longer to load the desktop version.

          4. I never use the mobile version of sites. The only difference is that I have flash set to on-demand, but I also had flash-block installed on my desktop… It really pisses me off when a site won’t serve me the full website. I’m actually writing this in my phone because the IE we’re stuck with at work isn’t rendering this site correctly for commenting.

        2. I’m going to agree with James Cox on this one. When I use my Vibrant, I tend to do very specific tasts, and the webpages I visit are often optimized for mobile.

          However, on the computer, browsing is much more casual, and I tend to visit a lot of content-rich websites.

          This was backed up by an article I read talking about screen sizes and data use. It turns out that the smaller the screen, the less data is consumed by the user at a time.

          The user may consume many snacks, but on something the size of a smart phone, the amount of data used just barely registers.

        3. on pc you can spend more mb per minute, because you can browse and do all things faster. Thats why it gives bigger stress to network.

      2. This makes no sense. Your download speed (or bandwidth, whatever you want to call it) is the same either way. It doesn’t matter if I’m streaming music on a phone or a PC, it will still be the same amount used.

        On another note, you can multitask more on a PC and therefore may have more connections open, but there is no proof that this causes enough strain to justify another $30 for tethering.

        It’s like texting. An unlimited SMS plan is generally $20. 1 SMS can be a maximum of 160 bytes. (I’m sure there is a few bytes of overhead, but not every text is exactly 160 bytes either, so I’m just going to use 160 as an example)

        Carriers generally charge ~$2/mb if you don’t have a data plan, which is high, but even at that rate that’s 6.6k texts for $2. As opposed to $660 at $0.10/message. So if carriers would stop charging for bullshit and actually justify their costs then no one would question it.

  13. There seems to be an emphasis in this on tethering. That makes no sense, since you can tether without root. I am rooted, but prefer Easy Tether. It’s faster, and more reliable.

    1. but if you root people are cheating the system and tethering for free.

      1. I’ll repeat. Most tethering is done on NON-ROOOTED phones. Search Easy
        Tether and PdaNet in the market…

      2. Tethering should be free, anyway. If you buy a data plan, why does it matter how you use it? It’s the same data you paid for, it’s just that you choose to use it on a tablet or notebook.

        1. Agreed, if you pay for data it shouldn’t matter. The only area where it would make sense to charge a tethering fee would be if someone had an unlimited data plan (a rare occurance these days).

      3. I have a data plan and pay for it. How is using the data I pay for cheating the system? That’s like saying if I make a phone call I’m cheating the system.

        1. I totally agree with u! It is our’s and we have ALL the rights to do whatever we want to! We can smash it in front of their faces if we want to. Who cares? It is our phone!

      4. not all people who root their phones are tethering. many people root their phones just to make it run better. there are custom ROMS that have been tweaked to near perfection. Also, some phones have a custom UI that is garbage. Look at the galaxy s phones. many people hate the TouchWiz UI. they root it, install custom roms and make it run better than anyother phone on the market. I am running stock froyo on it, and it also has tethering. i used to have it rooted though, and it was amazing how much better a phone it was rooted. it is our phones when we buy it and it is our choice to do whatever we want with them as long as piracy does not come into play. however, it is also the carrier/manufacture’s choice as to how they decide to support a rooted device. everybody is still legally free to root, however the carriers don’t have to support them. i feel the pain that many of you may have, cause i like to play around with my phone, however i can understand how the carriers don’t support that idea either.

      5. the system already cheated me out of yearly upgrades… consider us even

        1. yeah thats exactly it they owe you this yearly upgrade. smh if you want a yearly upgrade then only do 1 year contracts. They are saving money so they dont have to raise prices so people like you dont bitch and moan but you would never understand that.

          1. are you honestly taking the side of the carriers that cheat us out of so much money and make money by charging us for texting which text messege signals piggy back on on the network and would make no difference if there were 100000000 times more texts in a day versus none? The companys that charge you more if you want to use the data you paid for in a different way? That will often just crap you out in some bizzarre way or a another?

  14. This makes no sense because stock android phones come with built in tethering. My nexus has the feature stock and im rooted so what about me. These carriers are just raping their customers. This is just another example why a 3 CARRIER AMERICAN MONOPOLY IS NOT GOOD

    1. that wont be a monopoly

      1. Three large nationwide companys may as well be a monopoly. You guys are grasping at straws here but it’s already well known fact US has among the worlds most expensive data and voice plans, and it is entirely impossible for any new smaller company to join in the battle, so what they have is virtually a monopoly

        1. Most expensive data plan, yes just after Canada

        2. The word you’re looking for is, oligopoly.

        3. No. That’s called an oligopoly. I would agree that the situation is not advantageous for customers. But it is not a monopoly. Mono = 1. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and (for now) T-Mobile = 4. That’s called an oligopoly.

        4. @cayniarb I never said it wasn’t called an oligopoloy nor did I say it was a monopoloy. I was just stating the effects of the carriers are virtually the same as a monopoly (read). So basically call it what you want, it is not great for us consumers. Put your dictionary away and relax

    2. Time for you to look up the word “monopoly”.

        1. Edna Krabopoly

      1. So what he used monopoly instead of oligopoly. This isn’t politics so don’t make personal attacks. It just means you have no valid reason to disagree with what the other person is saying.

        @Jevon: Well, the Nexus phones are on T-Mobile who is a dev friendly carrier, so of course they are going to offer some stock phones. Sprint is also getting the Nexus S with stock. Hopefully that means they are looking to be more dev friendly.

        Oh, and I imagine that them (T-Mo) being the only one who offers stock Android phones brings them enough customers to more than make up for what would be the cost of tethering, if they we’re to charge.

      2. I might add the same for you. AT&T will have a market segment monopoly and Verizons market share will reach monopoly levels in cdma

    3. Its actually a “cartel”.

      1. it’s not a cartel. a cartel is when the few sellers in a market make their decisions together, so that the resulting prices and quantities are indistinguishable from what one monopolist would do (of course the spoils are divided between the cartel members, so one firm’s profit is less than what a true monopolist’s would be).

        i believe it should be an oligopoly, which would mean that the few sellers are offering exactly the same product; that would be the “dumb pipe” scenario the carriers are trying to avoid. by trying to differentiate themselves with ridiculous services no one wants (vz navigator, etc.), the wireless carriers are trying to frame the market as monopolistic competition, which means that each seller has somewhat of a monopoly on the good they sell because it is at least slightly different from what the other sellers have to offer. theories of both oligopoly and monopolistic competition predict prices above those of a competitive market, but the extent to which firms earn higher profits depends on free entry into the market. typically in an oligopoly we assume barriers to entry (or else competitors would see the positive profit being earned and enter, driving down prices and profits). i believe that assumption is fairly applicable in the wireless industry at the moment. i’m sure the FCC, FTC, and DOJ will be using oligopoly models as a baseline for the merger. the market power effect of the merger will be to push prices up, but it will be up to at&t and t-mobile to argue how the merger will push costs down enough that prices will fall or stay the same in spite of the market power effect. obviously they’re also blatantly trying to appeal to the administration’s policy goals, like rural broadband availability. of all our wireless and wired service providers, at&t wireless and t-mobile have the worst track record at offering services in rural areas, so i am highly skeptical.

        1. “it’s not a cartel. a cartel is when the few sellers in a market make their decisions together, so that the resulting prices and quantities are indistinguishable from what one monopolist would do”

          … which is exactly what’s happening in the US mobile phone market.

          1. in that case the merger will have no effect.

    4. stay with the phone you have…the htc thunderbolt has this feature already… staying with my nexus one because all these careers are going to shove it up our throats if we buy these new phones

  15. So they have a point. I’m all for exploits being closed, and while I don’t agree I at least acknowledge the argument that the carriers have a right to know the that operates on their system and that they want to charge for tethering. But custom roms and custom kernels add a layer of personalization that significantly increases the value of a phone for me. Even if I couldn’t use apps that require root, even if they had the apps that carriers don’t like stripped out, it would be worth it to have my stock UI and ULV Kernel. I mean honestly, it’s not like they know what computer you connect to one of their mifi devices. With any luck, as Google voice and gchat integrate, and as the the OS gets better at VOIP, and as Carrier data coverage gets better, I can get rid of my voice line altogether and stop caring about what they might do.

  16. Remember, rooting was deemed legal…

    1. Which means nothing, as far as this story goes.

      1. It means that carriers cannot punish you for it.

        1. Who say’s they are punishing you. They *SAY* they are trying to reduce data theft and warranty fraud and also making a more secure phone for the end user.

          It’s going to come down to what the EFF and the courts have to say about it though.

          1. Most data theft comes from tethering on non-rooted phones. Easy Tether,
            PdaNet, etc.

          2. Yeah, I wasn’t really going against what you were saying. That’s why I emphasized “say” to try and make it sound sarcastic. However, punishing isn’t the right word to describe what they are doing. Restrict or reduce would have been better. Who knows, maybe we should say they are oppressing us so we can turn this into a movement.

        2. No one’s punishing anything. Nothing says that they can’t do whatever is possible to prevent it. That’s the point.

          1. You didn’t read the part about possibly disabling phones?

        3. It most definitely does not mean that. It just means that jailbreaking/rooting does not violate the DMCA. The carriers can choose to not allow modified phones on their networks if they so choose. Just like htc, Appler, whoever will still void your warranty if you root/jailbreak.

          1. You say that…but after the ruling, Apple drooped plans of disabling
            jailbroken iphones.

          2. That is because they have no legal stand to do so, but they can and do void your warranty. Carriers on the other hand (and which is what the main gist of this article is about) is completely unaffected by the legality ruling on jailbreaking/rooting. If Verizon doesn’t want rooted phones on their network then it’s in their right to not allow them.

          3. I’m not so sure about that.

        4. Those who’ve said that rooting’s legality has no bearing on what Verizon can and can not do in this situation are absolutely correct. Rooting is legal, but Verizon can stop rooted phones from working on their network if they like. We in the rooting community may not like it, but we have no legal ground to stand on.

          However, I think it’s much more likely that Verizon will throttle these phones.

          1. Most tethering comes from non-rooted phones using Easy Tether or PdaNet.
            They have no way to determine tethering from phone use.

    2. Yes, that doesn’t mean that OEM’s and Carriers can’t do everything in their power to prevent it though.

  17. I’m with THREE in the UK and thankfully they have an “All you can eat data” plan. Which means tethering is no bother, and last month I used just under 15GB because of internet radio etc. Still one price no matter how much I use. (does mean i go through two batteries a day though =P )

    1. Me too, i use about 8gb pm on Tmobile and i dont even tether.

      I wont be buying another android device until its clear this wont affect all users worldwide. Time for a bit WebOS action me thinks.

  18. I get free tethering without having to root, thanks Google.

  19. There’s a balance to be struck I think. Everyone involved should work on building in some safe-guards against permanently bricking your phone, like something signed in the bootloader that can’t be removed, the way some Windows machines put a “restore” partition on the hard drive. But you should be able to keep getting custom roms of new versions of android if the devs keep making them.

  20. From seem edits to jailbreaking to rooting. From the Xbox to the PS3. From the RIAA and MPAA with mp3. When will they ever learn? I know more people with jailbroken iPhone than not and music sharing is just as big as before. Wouldn’t it be smarter to actually try and entice their customer base than threaten and antagonize them? Just a thought…

  21. It’s more than saving a few pennies. Like blueyedsoul stated, it’s about paying for the same data twice. Also, why would I pay for internet service at home when I can use wireless tether on my rooted phone and get it for free? I’m already paying Verizon my 30 bucks a month for unlimited data/internet, At an average of 30-50 bucks a month for seperate internet service, that’s hardly “pennies”.

  22. Other phones can as well Tim, but the appeal to rooting your phone and using Wireless tether or Barnacle is, you can view HTTPS (secure) sites, and you can’t with a regular tether app, unrooted. (secure sites inclue all your email ,banking sites, etc.)

  23. Then carriers need to give us the ability to remove unwanted garbage from our phones!

  24. Since most users Root to get a clean version of Android or, at least a version without all the OEM Bloatware onboard, I’d have to say that there might be some problem with this. Afterall, just last week, Google was said to be cracking down on OEM’s to put at stop to fragmentation – I am all for stopping the OEM’s from adulterating the OS and killing the Open in Open Source. And yes there should absolutely be security in place to protect us from malware in apps – but this must be done while maintaining Android’s Open Source promise. Killing the ability to install non Android Market apps is a clear violation of Open Source as we know it. Might as well go with Apple in that case.

  25. Rooting and customization is what separates android from the iphone. I hope this isn’t true

    1. That’s not true at all. You can jailbreak an iPhone easily.

      Custom ROMs. . . now that’s more Android.

      The real difference for *most* users is, choice and customization–you get it with Android and don’t with an iPhone.

  26. We already have a data cap, and if we hit that, then we pay an overage. This should just be a FEATURE of the phones, because we are already paying for the DATA.

    Android is an Open Source Operating System, and should stay that way. The providers are molesting us as it is, and should just allow free tethering and this won’t be an issue at all! We pay for data to a cap already!!!

    Adding free tethering (to a cap that is already in place) would be a selling point for ANY provider, as this is one of the 3 reasons to root your phone: 1) Tether (to the predetermined cap we already pay for), 2) Run Vanilla/Custom faster interface, and 3) to remove bloatware… Currently providers can’t even drop updates when they are supposed to, and we need to put them on ourselves, due to them dragging their feet with their thumbs up their… ears.

    This might get bad, and I would drop a data plan altogether if this was the case, as I do not pay for something twice when I ALREADY HAVE A CAP!

    I rarely use tethering, maybe 10-20MB/month when on call, or at the airport. That is not worth $20/month! I would rather pay for WiFi (at the Ontario Airport) if I needed it, that is less than $20/month. Hell I could get by with the smaller data plan, rather unlimited, or might soon…

    This would not even help with their cause as USB/bluetooth tethering would not even be detected. Moot…

    1. Throwing this out there and not even going to touch on the other stuff. USB and Bluetooth tethering are being detected. You can see it in the leaked GB build for the DX and D2. When you turn on tethering of any sort, the system tethering notification icon comes up along with the tethering applications icon. It didn’t use to and it’s not something that appears in stock GB, not to my knowledge at least. It’s believed to be part of the new tracking features Verizon is putting in place.

  27. To all those saying Nexus S is free tethering I want to say not if you get the 4G on sprint it isn’t. Their gonna charge you

  28. Only 2 ways I wouldn’t root. Either give me 2 different data options. Say 29.99 EVO only or 34.99 (something in this range) for unlimited tether in addition. There is no way I’m going to tether as WIFI is pretty prominent anymore (unless you live in Podunk, USA).

    Or when I buy the phone put your crapware on the market and I’ll download say…Sprint Nascar app if I want it. one of my reasons for rooting was to free up storage space for stuff I actually want. I don’t have a problem paying for tether, but I have a problem with getting double charged as if I have another phone when I don’t. I’m usually going to be using 3G/4G more often and tether in a pinch. At least that’s my current experience. I should be able to choose a data option at the get go. This way there are no surprises. Also I’m already paying 40 now for my data (with the new $10) surcharge; per phone even the ones that aren’t tethered. Like my wifes smartphone. Greedy…this is all this is.

  29. Why is all rooting discussion centered around tethering? I rooted my new phone as soon as I got it, but would never consider tethering my computer to my phone. I rooted so I could USE MY PHONE. AT&T cripples their Android devices such that I couldn’t even install a little app I wrote. Really? I can’t install my app on my phone? That’s BS. If my root attempt had failed, I would’ve returned the phone immediately.
    Now, on Verizon, I used my Droid for over a year without rooting. Of course, I was pretty spoiled with the Droid compared to other phones, as the Droid had a stock UI and limited bloatware.

    As long as carriers keep disabling features and loading them down with junk software that no one wants, rooting will be popular. I will not buy a new phone, no matter how awesome it sounds, unless it’s been rooted. We just can’t trust the carriers to leave our damn phones alone!

  30. I call major BS. I’ll believe it when I see it.

  31. American subscribers really do get screwed over. Here in Australia carriers don’t care if you tether. At very least they hope you pay for more downloads so you can tether more often!

  32. “Yes, tethering your data is a violation of your contract and any carrier has the right to shut you down and make you pay for that right.”

    I hope unlimited data is a thing of the past. Not because I want it to be, but it would simply place consumers in a position to not over use their data via mobile hot spot. Consumers should have the right to use their data how they please. The other extreme in this problem is when carriers force additional charges on users for the mobile hot spot feature. This should be illegal for users who have data caps. It’s our data, and we should be able to use it as we please. Consumer Rights… where’s Ross Perot when you need him?

  33. So what is the point of owning an Android phone. My device is rooted, my wife’s is not. I would not even want to have her phone as it is. I don’t even care about tethering, I’m simply referring to the device’s overall functionality.

  34. Even if the phone has tethering “built-in,” the carrier still charges for the service unless you are rooted (at least Sprint does).

  35. Wow… staying with my rooted EVO a little longer than.

  36. i thought the law allowed us to root with out consequences if this becomes truth i see a lot of class action law suites being thrown at the Service providers and moblie device makers. we should have the right to remove bloatware we dont want, or use custom roms for newer OS versions our providers seem to lag on giving us. those are the reasons most people i know root. now those who tether with out paying for it which is the only issue the providers should have, can deal with them at that time.

    1. The law allows us to ROOT without consequences, NOT load illegal apps or to get paid services from your provider for free. Even if you owned your own cable box, do you think your cable company would be cool with you getting HBO, Cinemax ,Starz, Showtime, the sports channels and the porn channels all for free. Even though” the signal is being sent anyway”, it was just unlocked on your part? I understand that these aren’t identical cases, I am simply drawing a parallel and don’t get the wrong idea; I am one of the biggest advocates of rooting and vehemently against encrypted bootloaders, but as I’ve stated in another response, in this one case, I have to agree with the cell companies’ side (if that provider is offering unlimited data). Especially with faster and faster tech rolling out. More than a few people asked me about rooting, free tethering and actually replacing their home internet provider in favor of LTE – which I’m dead against and I won’t repost that here(it’s in this comment thread somewhere anyway in a reply to blueyedsoul1). Simply put: Just because rooting is legal, the carriers aren’t required to make it easy, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t try to sue your phone company if they charged you or deactivated your phone because you rooted it to get a paid service for free.

  37. Well let me first say to hell with them all. I wonder if I was one of those tested on Verizon because I’ve noticed a few times where my 3G was slowed to a crawl but didn’t see any reports of outages.

    If they pull this mess then sorry I may just have to go back to not using smartphones or wait around for some new carrier free evolution. I don’t illegally tether (though I think it SHOULD be illegal to be charged twice for the same data). I just enjoy the freedom on my device to do what I want with it and to use different versions of ROMs etc. Outside of me so called “illegally” reusing my data plan why in the world should my carrier be this involved in what I do with the device I purchased when all I’m asking them to do is provide data and voice service?

    All this government takeover talk is just a distraction from the real corporate takeover thats going on in the U.S. but we’re missing it for worrying so much about what Uncle Sam is doing.

  38. Protect users? Doubtful. Tethering? Maybe. But this probably has more to do with placating the RIAA and MPAA, by offering more plausible DRM capability, than anything else.

    Think Netflix will ever make its app available for phones that don’t have locked bootloaders? I doubt it.

  39. So the whole reason why the Android phones became popular in the first place (the fact that the OS is open source and devs can do what they want with it) is now being threatened. I would love to see what kind of effect this would have on the sale of Android phones in the future if people could no longer have the ability to customize them they way they wanted to. I can say for sure it won’t be a positive effect.

  40. I am all for data caps. With 4G, you could cancel your home internet and tether with connection speeds that are better than DSL. This could be murder on the 4G network if people are using tethering for a substitute for home internet. If my Android phone isnt able to be customized, then my interest in Android is diminished. I dont have loyalty to Android and if, down the road, it isnt as fun as having my OG Droid, then I will get something else. If the Nexus line ends up on Verizon (which I doubt) then I’m all good. Android is awesome as rootable ROM. If it isnt, its not that much better than the competition.

  41. this is bullshit, i bought my device and i own it 100% i am NOT going to be told how to use it, if they decide to not let their warranty cover it then fine i am okay with that as that is their decision but to say i am simply not allowed to use my device on the network i bought it from because i customized it is fucking bullshit

  42. Good thing my mobile provider encourages tethering. <3 Wind.

  43. Although I have not rooted any of my Android phones, I think this whole thing is a bad idea. The whole purpose of Android is to have an open source and market. I think IF this does happen, it will hurt the OS and sales would take a hit. Thus, the android community would trust the manufacturers, service providers and yes, even Google. These are OUR phones. Shouldn’t we be able to have the freedom of choice to root, since our Androids are so much a part of our daily lives???

  44. American mobile network system is just sad and pathetic. In Europe, you just buy phone and use it with whatever carrier you like.

    1. Only downside is you have to be in Europe.

      1. Zing! LoL! You guys crack me up!

    2. That’s correct except for one thing: it’s not true. Sure, some carriers sell unlocked phones. Others don’t. Carriers which cover many countries allow you to use your phone anywhere on their network, but not all will allow you to use your phone on other carrier’s networks.

  45. That would be gay. Google should start its own mobile service offering and give unlimited data and no locked bootloaders and unlimited data. They would own the mobile carrier business, call it a monopoly, fine, if they offer unlimited data and dont crack down on rooted phones or wifi tetherer’s, ide give em 100 bucks a month. F U VERIZON.

  46. Simply put, if this movement comes to fruition I’m ditching my smartphone and costly data plan and will go about my life in another way. I refuse to let a company own and control the products I purchase.

  47. Another case of Google bowing to its master.

  48. The carriers and manufacturers are purposely doing this because when users can’t install custom roms with the latest version of android, they’re a lot more likely to buy a new phone.

    For example, I’m able to keep my evo for several years since I will have cyanogen support for a long time, but if couldn’t root my phone, I would probably but a new phone within a year.

    1. See I’m the opposite. If there is new and improved rootable hardware and I’m eligible for an upgrade…I’d get a new phone right away. I’m hanging on to my OG Droid as long as I can. That hurts Moto and besides that they’ve already convinced me that I will not be a repeat customer with the bootloader being encrypted.

  49. Of course it matters how you use the data. If you are using your phone’s data plan to drive multiple devices throughout the day, then the costs to your carrier is much higher. Costs are based upon usage, and the price for the data plans are based on costs as well as the market conditions.

  50. I don’t mind paying for tethering, but if carriers block us then they need to solve the other reasons we root…Allow us to remove bloatware and improve battery life for a start. Leave it to corporations to squash a “demand” rather than providing a “supply”. I sometimes wonder if these people understand business at all.

  51. This is going to cause a huge fuss for a relatively small number of people. Primarily, this will keep the non-hardcore rooters from trying it. The hardcore will usually take the risk on (their own) principles alone. In the end, most people will simply not care after a while. Phones will be what they will be. The huffy will blow itself out.

    Overall, the ability to root is not a healthy thing for the platform at large, which is why everyone is going to greater and greater lengths to stop it. If an app can root, it can cause no end of problems. The argument that, “You just need to be careful what you install,” doesn’t fly with the general public. They don’t know from danger and expect the phone/carrier to protect them from malice. In their eyes, this is a phone, not a computer, and they have a long held expectation that phones are secure. You can try and tell them to change their perspective, but that’s even less likely than getting rooters to willingly change their view that they’re entitled to do whatever they what whenever they want it. And in the end, it’s a numbers game: rooters are simply an insignificant percentage, and more so when weighted by risk.

    1. If only there were a network that would let you on with what ever device you wanted.

      Oh wait, there will be, C Block LTE. Everyone forgot about Google’s EPIC win of getting open provisions placed on the C Block. The biggest swath of 700MHz bandwidth has a requirement that the carrier must allow any non-harmful device on w/o restriction. Yea, let them lock down the 3G’s all they want. Nation Wide open access is on it’s way, thanks to Google and the FCC.

    2. If you truly are a android lover you’ll most certainly be singing a different tune when articles start popping up about the android lock downs.

      The average consumer now a days doesn’t do much research before buying, that’s true, but the majority of those people also end up with iphones.

      Those who do minimal research will see those articles and will take them as a negative thing: no one talks about the iphone being locked down so those people will end up with an iphone too.

      People like me who have done their homework are also going to start realizing that the iphone jailbreaking is becoming more and more mainstream and android is becoming more and more locked down. Well once everything is locked down, what’s to keep me? The operating system is less mature, the apps are lower quality, the accessories are inferior/scarce, and the integration with other hardware is almost nonexistent. The only thing to possibly keep me would be superior hardware: unfortunately it seems that this superior hardware is almost always accompanied by crappy battery life. Also, it’s highly unlikely that apple will allow android phones to outpace their hardware by a large margin.

      I really don’t want to switch to an iphone but I honestly think it’s gonna play out that way.

  52. If anyone is interested this is what Verizon has to say about tethering when you sign up for new service currently: “These features cannot be used to tether your device to laptops, personal computers or other devices for any purpose other than syncing of data; any other use is not permitted using these features. ”

    So according to their own language you can tether your phone if all you are doing is “syncing data”.

    rooting and installing alternate ROMs should only void my warranty if the defect is the result of my actions. The problem is frequently in trying to prove that. Now if I opt for the most expensive insurance on Verizon I’ll shell out $170 over two years. If that (plus all the other people that do the same) isn’t enough to offset the potential damage that an alternate ROM or root could inflict then provide us an option for an unencrypted bootloader and we can waive the warranty. To date I’ve never bricked a phone, I’m no so concerned about warranty.

  53. I would love to know if the Evo3D is going to be a world phone!

  54. Haha.. Thats what u get if u go with scroogle… And all the apple users I just cry for..

  55. I don’t root to tether…i root to modify MY experience! Sounds like the Apple business plan is falling in place. Damn!

    1. Hence my plans to switch to the iphone if this bs actually comes to pass. The android os, the apps, the hardware integration, and accessories can’t really compete with apple at this point (honestly never thought I’d have to admit that). The only thing keeping me here was the hackability (which is still kinda lacking on my droid x b/c of the encrypted bootloader). I’ll be damned if I’m gonna put up with this a sh1t.

  56. This whole “matching MEID” thing makes no sense. Why not just encrypt the bootloader and call it a day. I don’t see the benefit for the carriers to allow a chance for savvy devs to create a possible “workaround”. I’m not advocating it, i just don’t see the logic. If it’s to appear more “open”, well people are smarter than that.

  57. if sprint wants to make everyone jump board give us free tethering sprint u need customers and the money just a thought then u can expand but keep the prices the same and ull win easily

  58. Well.. Where is Metro PCS in all of this? They have their new LTE network up in a lot of major cities… If T-Mobile starts charging people with stock Nexus phones to tether their devices… I might actually be looking towards Metro PCS. Their phones suck… but couldn’t you put a custom ROM on a thunderbolt and someone use it on their network?

    I called tmobile the very day they announced their new bandwidth caps, I explained to them that I had been using my phone to tether occasionally and was worried about data usage… The REP I was talking to had NO IDEA you could do this with a stock android phone (Believe it!) then went on to say I would need to start paying for the ability to tether my phone. I told them that I am out of contract, so there was no way they could enforce this.. and if they did… I would no longer be their customer. I asked to speak with a loyalty department rep, who told me that this issue might become a headache for me later on down the line if their policy’s change… and that it might be a good idea to start paying the Fee now (something like 25 bucks) I asked if that would remove the monthly bandwidth cap if I paid the Fee, he said no… I said goodbye!

  59. Si I heard the droid x is locked down? How stupid is this article thanks for telling us what we already know

  60. For God’s sake, would people stop reposting this bullshit misinformation from p3droid?

    Verizon cannot track rooted phones. This has been confirmed by multiple notable devs at XDA, TeamAndIRC, and multiple high-level technicians with Verizon. p3droid is more than likely covering his ass because he released a GB ROM with an unreleased radio, which Verizon CAN track.


    If you want to read the details, I’ve already gone over it multiple times here:

    1. Thanks for this info. I’m surprised no one else posted this (that I’ve seen)

  61. The only reason most people tether is the carriers aren’t setting a price that matches what the market is willing to bear.

    Remember how the record labels didn’t want to allow any digital versions of their music, and the public said, “If you would sell it in the way we want to buy it — one song at a time, for a reasonable price — we wouldn’t pirate it…”?

    Well that’s exactly what’s going on with tethering.

    I should be able to tether for a much lower price than what the carriers are offering. I should also be able to tether just a little bit at a time.

    I rarely have any real motivation to tether, and when I do, it’s usually a spur of the moment thing. It’s also usually pretty short-lived — why would I want to tether through a crappy 3g connection if I can choose wifi? But the carriers want to charge me $30 and give it to me for a whole month (or worse, charge me $30/month for a year contract!). Why the heck should I have to pay that much to tether a few times a year?!

    Sell your product in the way that most of your potential customers want to buy it, and you will have many more customers. Refuse to do so and you will have no customers, or worse, you’ll have attackers.

  62. That OTA bricking method sounds rad. I wouldn’t mind seeing some reactions of “OH SHIZ MY $700 PHONE IS BRICKED!” and the subsequent angry trolling. The joy of watching flustering idiots.

  63. LOL! I can see the mass subpoena’s being mailed out to users who refused to update their devices!

  64. It sad state of affairs when the big 3 is trying to stop open development. I personally think if smaller companies like Metro PCS, Bell South, open up to developers, and allow rooting. You can have people who like stock phones stay with the big three, and let the hackers and developers run on the smaller networks, which in some ways are better than the big 3 as far as unlimited data and texting and cheaper plans, Metro PCS already have LTE up and running. This is just a
    thought off the top of my head. wonder what others thought about my comment.

  65. This is why I never buy my phones with any BS contracts, and why I’m on with a “do whatever you want with the data plan you paid for” carrier.

  66. This makes me want to cry!

  67. This would be google’s biggest mistake and Android sell may go down. The only thing people like about Android phones is freedom to customize their mobile the way they want which is not offered by iphone. Android is open source so it should remain open source. Quite frustating

  68. Does anyone remember when their ISP charged them per device on the network? I do. I got slower connections per device, AND had to pay MORE. This kind of went away when gaming consoles went net-ready. I have stock GB on the Nexus S on TMO in Podunk, Southern Arizona. I am able to tether and get throttled at 5GB/month. I also have the MiFi2200 on VZW. I get charged a nickel/meg if I go over 5GB. I only went over 5GB on each once, and did so in order to test speeds after 5GB. Neither device is rooted. I am not breaking any contracts or warranties.

    My old phone was the MyTouch3G 1.2. It is rooted, running 2.2.1, and I do have the ability to tether, because of it. When I rooted, I called TMO and asked if I could tether without voiding my contract. When I had an iPhone, I did the same thing with AT&T. Both carriers told me that I was okay to do so, but that I would void my warranty.

    I don’t see what all the hype is about, here, except that any time a service provider/vendor locks down a product or service, those who enjoy the benefits of open hardware and software are extremely disappointed.

    The bottom line is that in ANY network, the service provider/network admin MUST have the right to deny access to devices that they perceive as a threat, either overt or covert, in order to reasonably guarantee quality of service and information assurance. The most economical way to do this, seeing as how the purpose of a business is to earn revenue and not to provide a particular service or product, is to block out devices that have the potential to do damage.

    I, for one, hope that TMO US (Operated by AT&T) does NOT change my data plan and tethering privileges (NOT tethering rights), because that’s the reason I bought the Nexus S without a contract extension and connected it to their network. With 3G speeds on both TMO and VZW in my town, I still can’t compare speeds with Cox home internet and wouldnt’ ever try. When every ‘corner of the globe’ is covered by WiMax with free unlimited data usage, this problem will resurface and the opinions will change 180 degrees and people will WANT the service providers to monitor usage more closely in order to prevent data theft from any and all devices. Until then, this isn’t as big a problem as some of you make it out to be.

  69. First… I rarely post diatribe concerning articles, but I feel the need here.

    You start the article by proclaiming that ROOTERS are one and the same persons who STEAL bandwidth via Tethering… this is certainly a derogatory reflection and hype promoting the typical those who use a CD/DVD burner are doing illegal activities, etc, etc, etc. It certainly is NOT the only reason to ROOT a device! Let’s rehash some of the FAIR USE DOCTRINE and how the carriers decide what software you can have on a device YOU OWN! Nest, we can discuss the OPEN Software Licensing which Android is based and whether or not I’m allowed to write and execute my own software on the device, again, which I OWN!

    Can you imagine Car Manufacturers telling you that you cannot alter THEIR vehicles? Yes, that $30,000 machine in your driveway that you PURCHASED is not actually YOURS, that they reserve their right to prevent you from altering it to preserve the USER experience they’ve chosen for you. Lmao… How do you think that would stand up under scrutiny? Why is it different for digital devices? Again… it’s simple, if they want CONTROL over the devices use, then they should NOT sell them. They’d then retain the ability to preserve the functions THEY want on THEIR devices…

    Sorry… but the carriers and some handset manufacturers have let the horse out of the barn and to lock down their wares now will certainly be challenged. There’s only one reason the Android OS based handsets have become so popular and it’s in the ability to individualize them to the user’s needs. Those who chose to ROOT their device are not all doing so because the want something for nothing, that’s just so… infantile an argument.

    Just my $.02…

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