Carriers Cracking Down on Wireless Tether Applications


There is a reason why carriers charge add-on fees to enable devices for wireless tethering and data sharing: they don’t profit off of something that can easily be accomplished for free. It was only a matter of time, then, until carriers started to crack down on the many applications available in the Android Market that turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. Our friends over at DroidLife were tipped off that Verizon had blocked the application Wireless Tether on devices tied to their network. Doing a bit more investigating revealed that the app did not appear on the Android Market for devices on VZW, T-Mobile, and AT&T. Attempting to go through the Android Market webstore revealed the app was indeed blocked.

The move follows a warning issued by AT&T earlier in the week chiding customers using tethering without an accompanying service plan and informing them their accounts would have the extra charges added to their account. Looks like other carriers took notice and followed suit. Say goodbye to the days of free tethering.

[via DroidLife]


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  1. Stupid US Carriers,

    Here in the UK tethering is part of your phone internet allowance

    1. If only that was the same way here. Overall the UK has much better prices, and i really like the way how things are done. They aren’t trying to rape you behind a shed like US carriers like to do.

      1. Come to Brazil and you’ll stop complaining about your prices. Talk, text and internet are so expensive here when compared to the US or UK. At least we can tether without any aditional cost Maybe because the carriers still don’t know we can do that with smartphones.

      2. The UK has a stronger regulatory oversight of the industry then the US. When you free the carriers from oversight then they pretty much begin to rape the customer.

  2. where there’s a will, there’s a way

    1. Now I wander where I seen that same saying eailier today from?

  3. !FIRST! this is TOTAL BS and everyone knows it!

    1. Hey douchebag. Saying “First!” in a comments section was old in 2005. It’s 2011 now. Get over yourself.

      1. Cut him a break, he’s 12!

    2. First to be a jackass.

  4. reposted story. This is silly fear mongering.

    Story refers to ‘wireless tethering’ app. An app which requires a rooted Android phone. Anyone who’s rooted knows how to get the app elsewhere. I’m surprised any of the tethering apps are in the marketplace. Its should be too much effort for the carriers to really stop tethering on Android phones. And it would be misdirected effort. They should not try to create unnatural restrictions on how people use data, rather they should encourage the adoption and use of data as that is quickly becoming their income source.

    1. You don’t need to be rooted to use wireless tethering-plenty of apps and widgets for that.

      1. You do have to be rooted to run wireless tethering without paying extra for it. Google it.

        1. I’m using wireless tethering right now and not rooteds so don’t give me that google it bullshit.

          1. Does this have anything to do with the fact that Verizon is giving us free WiFi tethering access until May 15th which is really what’s letting you use it???

            I’ve always read, and TRIED to run ‘wireless tether’ without rooting will not work. Haven’t tried it here, but I’m rooted now and use it.

            Why does everyone have to be so nasty and rude to each other. Damn.

          2. That unlimited data + tethering until May 15th sounds like a good way to force you onto a tiered data plan on May 16th

        2. Scott just totally made u look like a b****

      2. Can you please name a few wireless tether apps that work for unrooted users besides the carrier services that cost fees?

        1. Quick Settings for one. Just putting wifi into the search in the app market brings up quite a few.

          1. Exactly which apps, I downloaded Quick Settings and see no where that I can turn on Wireless Tethering. Sorry if its a nood questions andI’m missing something.

      3. I’m fairly certain Daniel’s referring to the “Wireless Tether” app that requires root, not all tethering apps in general.

  5. My Samsung Vibrant has Mobile AP without any app. Will I be charged for using this?

    1. Every new phone these days has wifi hotspit, and yes, you will be charger for using it. Thats why people root….so they dont have to pay extra for something their already paying for. Greedy carriers just want to double bill you cause they assume the general public is stupid! Which most are…

      1. Tethering is not included in your data plan…it is an addon…that’s why they are cracking down on it because people are promoting stuff like this as a way to stick it to the man… so the man is sticking it back to you

    2. You WILL NOT be charged – assuming you are using your Vibrant on T-mobile network!

  6. But my Nexus has free tethering….

    1. mine, too :)

  7. I still can’t believe US carriers are SOOO stupid that they charge for this.

    1. It’s not stupid at all, it’s just extremely evil.

      1. It’s not stupid, or evil…people pay for unlimited data to be used on their phones…the TOS actually says you do need to have a tethering plan to use it…and it just so happens the only tethering plan AT&T offers is 4GB for 45 bucks…I have an HTC Inspire with unlimited data…and I know my TOS says that unlimited data only pertains to data used by my phone by applications on my phone…not data used by my phone by applications on my laptop…read your TOS people and pay for what you use…there are so many iPhone users who thought it was entitled to them and went as far as telling other users to jailbreak and do it for free on AT&T’s facebook page…So I blame iPhone users for this

        1. So if it’s in the TOS that makes it not stupid or evil? If I use 2GB per month and you use 2GB per month, why should it matter how we use it. We pay for a specific amount of data. If we don’t abuse that set amount why should it matter how we use it. It doesn’t cost the carrier anymore to send different types of data across their network. So explain to me how it is logical to pay more for it.

          1. I think if you are on the 2GB package and you can stay under 2GB while tethering that you should be able to stay on that and not have to up to the 4GB package…since you are paying for consumption based data…but for people with the unlimited package…I think they should be kicked off of it for tethering and using 15-45 GB of data per month

          2. If he pays for 2gb and stays under the limit he should be able to use his data anyway he sees fit. ATT want to charge anyone who tethers regardless of how much they use. You can’t side step his question. Give him a reason why ATT should charge him more for something he won’t use. Or how they should tell him how to use the data he already paid for. Come to Sprint. Your days of being overcharged would end.

          3. If they don’t want people using over 45GB a month than they have to stop selling UNLIMITED packages and sell 45GB packages instead. Unlimited means there is no limit and 15-45GB sounds like a limit to me.

            If you pay for an unlimited plans you should be allowed to download 5TB a month using tethering and still pay the same amount BECAUSE IT’S UNLIMITED!

          4. @FPRobber actually it says right in the terms of service that Unlimited data applies to data used on the mobile device only…it does not include connected devices, so you are in violation of the TOS by tethering…if you can use 45 GB of data on your phone with out tethering more power to you…but once you click on a tethering app and try to use it with your phone…you are breaking the TOS

          5. @Fins you get what you pay for…Sprint is garbage

          6. I’m not goin lie. I ust on average 3.2GB monthly phone only. LoL!! AT&T would be horrible for me, that’s why I’m glad I have Tmo. Though I’m mad they dropped their data kap from 10GB to 5GB. They need to raise it again.

            Why should we pay extra for a feature on your phone? Keep in mind, apps like TV-On-The-Go are carrier specific and are apps.

            But to stay on topic.
            I don’t see how you’re violating your TOS. I mean, you laptop is using your phone, and your phone is using the internet. Meaning the internet is still being used by your phone, right?

          7. Also Michael…and when I said it’s in the TOS…I’m saying you agreed to it…regardless how you feel about it…you know what you’re getting into…read the fine print

        2. id like to know how you think you have an inspire with unlimited thats bullsh*t i left att cuz they rape you for data i had a captivate and 2gb somehow didnt last tho all i used was wifi fu*k att they need to burn

          1. I’ve had unlimited data for 4 years…they didn’t take it away when I upgraded

        3. but isn´t the tether app and application that uses the data in your phone?

          1. To share the data from your phone with another device you are required to have a tethering plan. you can use as much data as you want to on the phone…but as soon as you hook it up to something else and it starts using your internet connection you are in violation of your TOS…I know you people want to argue because you feel screwed but you’re not being screwed…you agreed to the TOS when you activated your phone

          2. Wow, shinedown, you sound like an AT&T employee you’re so adamant. I talked to an AT&T worker last week when considering re-upping with them and he outright lied to me like I’m an idiot and said AT&T had bought T-mobile. Done Deal. LMFAO. He was all about selling a tethering plan too, bet he gets a nice COMMISSION for that. So how much do you make selling tethering plans shinedown?

  8. shift your business to Sprint, no issues with tethering. So far, I hate them less than AT&T and Verizon.

    1. +1

      Sprint hasnt given me any problems.

    2. Problem is Sprints 4G coverage is almost nonexistent compared to T-Mobiles, at least here in central Florida.

    3. Same here… no probs on Sprint… Check out my usage just this month… LOL

      1. WTF, 81GB!? So can we all point to you when as the “person who ruined it for everyone” when Sprint does start cracking down?

      2. Try harder next time, I hear Photoshop classes are 50% off next week

        1. wrong my friend this is all true….ive gotten to 20 GB of data in one month and above 15GB of data month after month…so yes sprint does not make a shit storm about it for now

        2. no photoshop here my friend… and when I pay for unlimited I am going to use it my cable company gave me a 50gb limit so when I was over with about half a month to go every month I had to drop them… My sprint connection may be slower but at least I get unlimited, can still steam everything I need, and dont have to worry about going over!!!

  9. HHmm, I wonder is sprint will join the bandwagon

    1. I give it two years.

      1. I’m not so sure. I think Sprint, especially if the T-Mo/At&t deal goes through, will become the hands off carrier as a selling point. You can bet your ass that they would rather have data overloading their network if it meant they actually got new customers. I’ve been with sprint for years and they’ve never really fucked much up and when they’ve done that I found that screaming at them usually gets stuff removed. Honestly, if Sprint carved out that niche, they might not have to worry about any other company finishing them off.

        1. Honestly if the AT&T/T-Mo deal goes through…that will open a pretty large door for Sprint to pick up new customers…they need to expand backhaul to their WiMax network, and market themselves better offer good service at a fraction of the price it would cost people to go with AT&T/Verizon and they can pick up a large group of former T-Mobile customers and all it will cost them is making network improvements that they need to make anyways

    2. Sprint actually told me on the phone when I asked about tethering that there were “other options” I could pursue instead of paying for the monthly hotspot. I think their commercials about being “truly unlimited” is an intentional kick in the shin to all the other companies who are cracking down on their customers. If you are paying for unlimited data, it should be unlimited.. Go Sprint!!

  10. Does this include apps like PDANet which tether without using WiFi?

    1. It looks like it. I just checked to see if I could install PdaNet on my T-bolt and it doesn’t allow me to select my phone on the web-based market and the in-phone market no longer lists PdaNet as a search result.

      1. Fortunately, I’ve already got it installed. Now, this has me wondering if they will begin tracking when/if we use it. Granted, I don’t use it that often (hardly ever) and only when I need an internet connection on my lappy when the only access I have is via my phone.

        I wouldn’t use VZW’s mobile hotspot service enough to make the price for it worth it as I don’t use PdaNet that often.

      2. You don’t need to download PdaNet from the Android Market at all. Just go to the website:

        From there, you can download the application for your OS and once you install the application, it will automatically install it on the phone for you.

        I just did this earlier, on the Thunderbolt.

    2. No, it doesn’t. See the comment I made after MooseCat’s comment.

  11. Wireless Tether for Root Users is gone from the market (at least on my thunderbolt), but I already have it and after a quick test, can confirm that it is working fine via 3G or LTE on a rooted Thunderbolt running Twisted Sense 1.5
    I hate to play devil’s advocate, but I can understand why VZW is trying to do this. Since the Thunderbolt, I have had a lot of people who ask me to root their phones about Wireless Tethering and dethrottling scripts because they had it in their heads that they were going to replace their home ISP with their phone. Meaning they would be running their phone, computer(s), xbox 360, PS3, Netflix through the Blu-Ray player, etc. Seriously, one person actually planned on doing all this with their TBolt. To which I responded “No way in hell.” Even with dethrottling, you won’t have to worry about VZW throttling you, because if everyone was being a damned idiot and running all of that crap it would cause the network to drag to a virtual halt.
    I do think, however, that if they’re going to throttle “the top 5%” then, if you want to suck up all of your data in 35 minutes, then that’s on you. I run mine on wifi at home and whenever it’s available. Act like you have some damn sense, people.

    1. fuck the carriers they already charge overages or throttle, unless you’re sprint then i’d understand

  12. att never texted me bout tethering i tether everyday

  13. thats what rooting and third party apps are for lol

  14. I hope this doesn’t mean that we are now one step closer to the day when carriers crack down on all root users, even those who don’t tether.

  15. What about custom roms which allow tethering without an app?

    1. Forget custom ROMS, plain old vanilla Android 2.3 allows you do this!

  16. Can somebody, anyone, please explain to me how the hell does the carrier know when/how and if you are tethering? What if someone only owns a smartphone (no computer, no tablet, no home internet… I know, highly unlikely) and they use up a lot of data because it’s their only form of internet browsing/downloading…how can they tell that all that activity is not happening on the user’s smartphone, but rather on a tethered device?

    1. They can look at the packets and tell what application the request is coming from. Since smartphones don’t have MS Internet Explorer or Firefox, the carriers can make a safe assumption that you’re tethering

      1. Can they tell the difference between the Chrome browser and the Android version of the Chrome browser?

      2. So if I’m tethering my Evo to connect my Wifi Xoom on the road, then Sprint can’t tell the difference because it’s still Android?

        1. Excellent question, one that I would like to know the answer to also… My Wifi Asus Transformer gets here this week, tethering to my Verizon phone would be nice…I won’t abuse the connection, but it would still be a nice option when out and about…

      3. Umm you do know that smartphones do have firefox now don’t you?
        And my phone may not have internet explorer but its browser is often set to internet explorer user agent

  17. guys…just sideload this app. Ive been using this thing since the original Motorola Cliq!

    Note: it works on more phones than listed. It hasnt been updated in forever. But works great on SGS Vibrant running Bionix v1.3.1 (Android 2.2)

  18. Who seriously has to get their tethering app from the marketplace? You can download them from the web. This isn’t a big deal.

  19. hey everyone you can get around this, turn off your cell phone signal, IE plane mode or take out your SIM card and then connect to the google market place, the apps should then reappear. Or just download the APK and install it through the Wonder Machine on ATT or by turning on unknown sources on your VZ phone.

  20. Are the other free tethering apps gone?

  21. T-Mobile’s wifi hotspot app is a good alternative.

  22. I thether off my g2 all the time, I’ve never paid any fees or received any text messages.

    1. me either

    2. I tether all the time (non abusively) on my G2 and I haven’t seen any charges

  23. PDA Net works fine. still available in the market.

  24. we cans till tether if rooted and have custom rom by using native tethering

  25. this is why i hope the t mobile and att deal doesnt go down.

  26. Working for me. Using Wireless Tether right now.

  27. Why does anyone need a tethering app? Android 2.2+ enables native tethering and Wireless AP. At least for T-Mobile phones, it’s not disabled.

    1. and when they finally notice you’re using it they add the tethering plan to your account.

      1. I used the sh*t out my G2 WiFI hotspot app, stock, and Tmo never sent me anything. For some weird reason though, I couldn’t tether. I was able to WiFi hotspot, but not tether. So I thought I had to pay for a tethering plan and WiFi hotspot was free, since Tethering is faster.

  28. I realize is easier said than done, but if you want the carriers to be more gentle on your behinds, and wallet, make them understand you are the consumer. In other words, if everyone decide they don’t want data, and txt plans etc. they’ll do an about face. As of now, they are controlling everything, because they understand the cell market is driven by young people. If the carriers decided tomorrow they want to increase data plans to fifty dollars, you’ll get a couple of knucleheads still pay for it. VZW was aware of apps the provide free texting, but still charge folks with smart fon txt, no honesty.

  29. They’re too greedy, we already pay about $90 a month.

    We should pay based on how much data we use, not how we use it.

  30. Just download market enabler and take a different carrier

  31. I tether, although my PC probably sees 2 percent of my total monthly usage. I’m never home, so I abuse my network (Verizon, although I run all 4 major carriers) for strictly phone stuff (couldn’t on my Nexus S, network is waaaaay too slow where I live)

  32. All you gotta do is download the app off the net instead of the market. Problem solved. And ATT has been blocking tether apps since the backflip.

  33. It’s been a while since I’ve seen wireless tether in the market. Search Google.

  34. No issues with teathering with T-Mobile. They actually add the service to phones and promote it, with no additional charge. My kids always teather to my phone from their Android phones that don’t have an Internet plan and from their iPad and iTouch. I also use teathering at work if there’s some kind of network problem (had to use it just this week).

    Verizon just sucks giant donkey balls, leave them and switch to T-Mobile or Sprint.

  35. Better download Barnacle while its still available.

  36. I guess that’s why we still can go get them through SlideMe Market.. :)

  37. I’m just glad that I live in Denmark, where that will never happen. I think its sad that you have to pay for something that is free, and is pre install on your mobile.

  38. I need to ask you all (from the US) when u say unlimited data plan, what is that. Here in Denmark we have a 100mb, 300 mb, 1 gb and 5/10gb data plan. But you can have a 100 mb data plan and still use 10 gb, without needing to pay more. The speed of the connection just gets a little lower. Is that the same for you?

    1. I wish

    2. Phone and Tablet data rates vary by carrier, but all charge separately for tethering a mobile device.

      Verizon only has a single data plan for smartphones and it is “unlimited” by name and limited in reality. You can use how ever much you want without extra fees, but once you exceed 5gb you are supposed to be throttled to a lower speed for the remainder of the month and potentially the next month.
      Tethering comes in 5gb blocks I think, costing different amounts depending on promotions and what device is doing the tethering. Rates go as high as $59 for 5gb of tethered data.
      For Verizon tablets you buy packets of data and each time you use up a packet you are charged overage fees for more data.

      AT&T has a bunch of data packs, ranging up to a few gigabytes. After that there are overage fees.
      Tethering on AT&T also comes in blocks of data and has some high fee for small amounts of data.
      For AT&T tablets you buy packets of data and each time you use up a packet you are charged overage fees for more data or given the option to buy another pack of data.

      Sprint has a truly unlimited data plan. Some of the little cariers that use sprint’s network also offer truly unlimited plans. I do not know how their Tablet or tethering plans work.

      I don’t know about T-Mobile or US Cellular plans…

  39. Verizon had better justify this. Their terms of service clearly states you can tether a smart phone if you are using it to sync data.

    1. “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” Sadly syncing and tethering have different meanings to Verizon. Syncing only means aligning data on the phone with data stored on another device, like collecting or updating emails, pictures, or documents. Tethering allows the other device to send and receive data using the cellular connection. They have plenty of legal footing and money backing that up :(

  40. Tether using my Nexus S. Absolutely no problems….

  41. My TOS, give me what I pay for. LOL

  42. So apparently no one remembers the good old days of the internet, in the late 90’s when ISPs tried to charge people like an extra $5 for each individual device they had going through their home connection, even though they had “unlimited data usage”. While I don’t think that the carriers will give up as easily as the home ISPs did, I do think if we cried less to each other about this and more to our Attorney Generals (there are some states with AT’s that just LOVE going after big companies), things might get a bit more reasonable. After all, if I pay for 2000 gallons of water, it doesn’t matter if I’m taking a shower, doing dishes, washing the dog, or watering my roof in a vain attempt to make my house grow, as long as I paid for it. So it shouldn’t matter what screen my 2000 MB of data show up on either.

  43. Why does it matter if wii tether or not?

    For starters people, you are on an unlimited plan. Even though you’re data kapped, you can still download more data. You’re just forced to download it slower. So stop saying “unlimited means unlimited” because you are unlimited.

    What I don’t like is this stupid tethering plan companies try to give us. The only person who should be selling a tethering plan is Sprint since they don’t data kap and have a legit reason to need to sell one.

    What I want to know is, do they data kap if you buy that WiFI hotspot device thing? I mean, that thing is suppose to be able to connect about 5 devices, and they advertise connecting your laptop to it. Now if they made tethering plans and data kap, because laptops download more stuff then mobile, does that mean the WiFi Box still has a data kap? Because if it does, that’s just dumb. US carriers are just dumb if they do.

    Ima go to cricket. LoL!! I don’t hear anything about them data kapping their phones. LoL!! I live in Houston and 3G is tolerable. (Grew up on slow internet. -_-)

    Data Kapping is dumb!! Sprint needs to buy Tmo, so I don’t have to be data kapped, because if AT&Tmo happens, I won’t lie, my contract ends next year giving me a year to try AT&Tmo, and if I don’t see some type of change in their way of thinking, then I’m becoming a Sprint Customer.

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