AT&T Threatens Tiered Data for those Tethering by Unofficial Means


After AT&T confirmed it would begin throttling bandwidth for heavy data users on unlimited plans, the company continues to tighten policies for those grandfathered past tiered plans. Users of smartphones with unlimited data plans caught tethering their devices or using them as mobile hotspots through unofficial means will be moved over to AT&T’s $45, 2GB/month plan with an additional 2GB allocation for tethering. The punishment brings about significantly less data at a price $15 higher than the $30 being paid for the older all-you-can-eat data subscriptions. AT&T began warning customers of this possibility earlier in the year, but it seems they are now ready to start bringing the hammer down. For some it could happen as soon as August 11th. So cease tethering or cease your rights to unlimited data. The choice is in your hands.

[via BGR]

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  1. Ha damn that sucks for those who illegally tether but maybe this will help bring the price down a little? Can’t wait to see all the people bitch about this.

    1. Umm there is no law against this.

      Bring the price down? Yeah, no, never.

      And….. you’re a bitch for thinking this is reasonable

      1. Well since I am bitching you are damn right I think it is reasonable. There is a reason they got rid of unlimited data, and this is one of the main reasons. They never thought of this when people werent using 15+gb of data a month because they hook it up to their laptop. This is people’s fault for trying to take advantage of the system. And before you try and say well it says unlimited it says unlimited mobile data.

        1. So HTF is “mobile data” any different then regular data? Packets are packets friend, no matter which way you slice it. Basically they are charging you again for data you have already purchased. What possible difference could it make to which device the data goes to be it mobile or laptop? Its all the same data…

          1. Clearly this all went right over your head. It is not all the same data. It is using something that is a service you have to pay for. You will use much more data on your computer than on a phone. Simply because it is easier to browse most of the time on the computer and you would ultimately end up with much higher data uses. It isnt meant to replace a home internet if you can’t understand that then sorry nothing is going to make you understand.

          2. Why shouldn’t it replace my home internet? My cell phone has replaced my landline, and I didn’t get penalized for that. I don’t see the difference. Cell phones allow me to get phone calls anywhere, and now data plans allow me to get interwebz anywhere. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. When the first iPhone came out 90% of the motivation to jailbreak it was so it could be tethered. We, the consumers, have wanted to tether since day 1.

          3. Because you can’t hook your landline up to get calls to your cell. And if you are using the internet just on your phone it can replace the home internet but hooking it to your laptop isn’t mobile data. And why do you think there is a certain number of devices you can have hooked up to your ISP for this exact reason.

          4. I have a Dell Streak Phone and I use Dolphin Browser in Desktop. So all the websites I go to are full size and I even have flash. So all that data I use on my phone I use on my laptop in just the same way. So in my case, packets are packets. Streaming Flash videos on my Streak is the same as on my Laptop.The age of the dumb smart phone are over and people are using their Android phones as they would use their desktop. Sure, I will not download movies while tethered or on my phone. Mainly because its painfully slow.

          5. Using something that is a service you have to pay for? No, it’s forcing you to pay for a service that they don’t provide. Their service is to serve as a data conduit to your mobile device. It’s like a dealer who sells you a minivan, but expects you to pay an additional premium if you fill your empty seats with passengers. I just want to tether my WIFI tablet for Email. Doing so does not use much more data than I would with just my phone. I own a phone that AT&T did not subsidize (Nexus One) and a tablet that AT&T did not subsidize (transformer). AT&T provided NOTHING to make this possible (provided no additional service) and any tethering I do has a near ZERO impact on their network (maybe an extra 3 to 5 megs on top of the 250 I typically consue on my phone). You are correct, the service they provide wasn’t meant to replace your land based ISP, or stream gigs and gigs of youtube and netflix (who’s want to do that on a 4″ screen anyway). But for my situation, this would be making me pay more for nothing.

        2. It’s AT&T’s lack of foresight that got them into this situation. If they had made data tiered from the start, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, rather than set hard caps to keep their network running efficiently they elected to market their plans as unlimited in order to gain more users. This comes at a price and threatening users is a losing strategy which should be illegal.

          Whether AT&T’s network can handle the data I push through the network they built is none of my concern as a consumer. I presume the network works and can handle whatever my needs may be. They are at fault for selling me an unlimited data plan.

          1. I don’t disagree with you. At&t should have worried more about their network and less about this merger and then this wouldnt be happening. What are they going to say if the merger goes through and they have all that extra spectrum? They cant keep saying their network cant handle it when they have already been caught in a lie since they are sitting on a ton of spectrum, yet they wont put money into developing it. They should take a lesson from verizon and expand their network then atleast people will say well I have great coverage and speeds so I will pay a little extra the way at&t is doing it is just hoarding money and sitting on a shitty network.

        3. The fact is, they offered a service that they can’t actually support, and now the end user has to pay the price for their mistake. Yea, I get pissy!

      2. The “law” against it is the frickin’ contract that YOU signed. Don’t get pissy just because you decided not to read the stupid thing.

        1. No, I have breached my contract which causes a dispute but does not directly violate any laws.

          Legally what AT&T is allowed to do is terminate my service and charge me an ETF which they won’t do because they want my money more than helping their network.

    2. Illegal might be a little strong. In violation of their contract would probably be more accurate, since I have yet to hear of anyone being arrested for it. And I’m pretty sure if AT&T could have people arrested for it, they would.

      1. Contracts are legally binding, violating a legal agreement is violating the law, therefore…illegal. Beyond that, theft of service would be a criminal violation, I presume.

        1. Violating a contract is not “breaking the law”, and contracts are not laws.

          Violating a contract is just that: violating a contract. It’s a civil matter, not a penal matter.

          It’s not considered “Theft of Service”, it’s considered “Violating your terms of use”. You have been granted access to the network, you are just not using according to their terms.

    3. Data is data, since they charge you for overage, why not let you tether,
      answer: they wanna suck you the customer dry, any way or form they can.

      1. They don’t charge overage for unlimited way to read since this is for unlimited customers.

        1. So tethering is free on the 2GB plans?

          “1) Stop tethering and keep their current plan (including grandfathered unlimited plan)”
          That means all plans.

          1. Clearly unlimited data doesn’t come with tethering great reading comprehension. Tethering is charged so if you are using it and not paying you should be charged.

          2. Way to totally missed my point….reading comprehension…lol

  2. …or cease your contract with AT&T

  3. If folks are doing it illegally….they shouldn’t complain.

    And folks said last year “They cant tell we’re tethering”….we are about to find out how true that is…

    1. Folks doing it refuse to acknowledge that they’re doing anything wrong. That rationalize themselves as the aggrieved party, only taking what’s “owed” them. Any action on AT&T’s part would only inflame their feelings of persecution.

      1. The problem is the system. Wouldn’t it make more sense to pay AT&T for a personal data connection as opposed to a device based data connection?

        1. Then pay the tether and hotspot fees and you’ll have that.

          It comes down to it being available to everyone and everyone paying higher prices, or only the people who use those services pay for them. Fee structures are typically based on average uses, admittedly skewed toward the carrier’s benefit. Some will use less bandwidth than the average, some will use more. Overall it mostly balances out. But then there are tether and hotspot users. They tend to consistently use a lot more than average, so you either remove them from the main pool and price them differently, or you raise the prices for the whole pool.

          Personally, I don’t want to subsidize the cost for services I don’t use.

  4. Sprint FTW.

  5. So if your tethering in your car (mobile) then its ok, but at home (not-mobile) then its not ok?

    1. no you are not understanding what is meant by mobile. Tethering is tethering whether you are on the road or at home. Mobile means the device which is getting the data.

      1. Apparently he didn’t slather enough sarcasm on that slice of bread. Clearly a mildly clever pun on the whole “mobile” data issue.

      2. But a laptop is a mobile device… So, it’s mobile data…

  6. It would fall under theft of services since it is something that would have to be paid for to allow it.

    1. wow i think i saw you on facebook…you need to post this on cellularsouths wall

  7. I haven’t relieved a notification and I’m already on a 2gb data plan so this won’t stop me unless they let me know. Even then I’d be happy for them to cancel my account so I can go to Sprint or Verizon.

    I’m using an ad-hoc app instead of the built in app anyway. I wonder if they can tell that at all? The only thing I use if for is to tether my Wifi Honeycomb Tablet.

    If they sold family combined data plans I’d give them $10 extra and buy a 3g/4g tablet.

  8. My question is how will they know I’m not saying this to tether but I pull another 7gig a month on my one line before anyone complains I pay for 3 unlimited plans the other two phones may use 1gig together. I do not tether but stream movies and audio so I am hoping they do not think I’m tethering. Watch a Netflix movie for 1:30 and see the data it pulls

  9. I’ll drop’em like a dirty pair of underwear if they try to pull that shit with me.

  10. Is tethering on a Nexus One AT&T with the official google ROM that allowed tethering unofficial?

    Is tethering on a rooted Nexus One AT&T with a cyanogenmod ROM that allows tethering unofficial?

  11. So how can they tell if you’re tethering “illegally” or not?

    1. The easiest way is by your web-browser’s dead give-away: the user-agent header that’s sent for every page you visit.

  12. I’m reading comment and seeing idiots post that theathering is illegal. It is not and at best it is a breach of contract. The with cell phone companies is who defines how i can use the service that i pay for. Products can be modified, a service is something that is provided through a contract that spells out the terms of agreement. Now does it make since that AT&T and Verizion are trying to get over like fat cats for data prices; NO. The problem with companies is lack of innovation. Once consumers start to understand data there is going to be a company to fill that void. It is easy to hit 2gbs of data on a smartphones these days. Flash sites, widgets, email, 3D MMO games and your at 2GB’s and if you want to included video chats you will certainly hit it. It is time for US cell companies to spend the cash they have made from the IPhone and Android devices and build out more effective networks. This data thing is going to come to a head. The land line phone and hard wired broadband internet are being replaced by mobile phones. Maybe cable providers need to build a partner ship with cell phone companies. We would get better networks and everyone gets a slice of the pie.

  13. I still don’t see how they can prove it, my phone, my tablet, and my laptop all tell every website they go to that they’re a desktop. So I guess i’lll get to throw that one at them soon ;).

    1. LoL!! I don’t know about the Tablet, but a laptop doesn’t use Mobile.Internet when it’s accessing a website. It uses an actually website, so basically it’s saying:

      {{This devices is accessing Google Chrome}} That’s a dead give away that your phone is tethering since phones don’t have Google Chrome. LoL!! They kinda assume it and use those clues as their evidence.

      P.S. that’s not really what it says, but I wrote it like that so it’ll be easier to understand. Just in case you’re not into computers or something…

      1. There are mobile browsers where you can write a completely custom user-agent string, I believe.

        There is more reliable info from the packets to determine tethering such as TTL (time-to-live).

  14. Netflix is a data burner. WiIl that constitute as tethering if I do it from my phone =

  15. What Sprint taking on customers by the thousands so consumers get true UNLIMITED PLANS?? At&t t-mobile deal called off Sprint moves to number one ranking spot for lead U.S. mobile carrier?? <— This day is coming and coming soon!! Be prepared you heard it here first.

    1. Not unless they get a little better coverage first then maybe they will move up from the rear.

      1. Thank you!! Because I’ve had Sprint known phone users and they don’t seem to be getting that good coverage around Houston, though it’s been a while since I’ve seen this, so hopefully they’re better. That’s why they NEED to buy Tmo, they need some coverage.

        1. I have had Sprint for over a year I get coverage everywhere. If I am not on Sprints network I am roaming but hey its still free. Also the more customers they bring on the more money they make the more they can build…

          1. Nice. So it sounds like they are getting better. Ima still be grandfathered in Tmo if AT&T buys them, but after my contract expires; this makes me more willing to move to Sprint.

    2. I had Sprint here in Indianapolis. I got an Evo 4G on launch day. I paid $10 extra x 2 lines for WiMax that still to this day is not in Indianapolis (the 12th biggest city in the US last I checked — probably not still acurate).

      I loved everything about Sprint except their signal. The high bandwidth spectrum does not penetrate walls so you don’t get a good signal indoors (T-Mobile is the same but they have Wifi Calling) and their data speeds were absolute shit.

      So basically I was paying an extra 20/month for 4g when in reality I was getting 100-300kbps downstream. Compared to TMobile where I’ve been getting 2-3.5mbps and my bill is almost exactly the same as it was on Sprint, and I will take TMobile every time.

  16. I think that if they sell you how ever amount of data in a plan and explain to you the overage charge for going over they should really care less how you use the service, in fact they should encourage you to use it how ever you want so you can burn through it and they get to charge you those nice little overage fees they love to charge you guys… ATT is the most greedy company I’ve ever worked for

  17. Why don’t you AT&T fools class action their ass. Someone should get paid by that stick of a company.


    1. They can: it’s called packet inspection. E.g. there should never be hundreds of non-phone-browser user-agent strings going over their networks if you haven’t payed to tether.

      1. Tons of browsers have user agent switchers. I routinely have to set my phone’s user-agent to desktop because of some site’s shitty mobile design.

        Edit: There are however other bits of info gleamed from packets to determine tethering such as TTL (time-to-live) I believe.

  19. I don’t know why this matters. With Google Music, and Netflix, I can easily rack up some heavy data use. And especially with the TV on the Go apps. Oh my goodness. I don’t need to tether to rack up data. LoL!!

    But Tmo hasn’t done anything, especially when I racked up them 30GB from Netflix. :P Though they said my data was slowed, it ironically got better after the data cap. o.O I wasn’t complaining. :P

  20. This is a little ridiculous IMO. I used to tether a long time ago using bluetooth long before touch screen smart phones. Back then no one cared. Then you pay more as speed increases and you are no longer allowed to tether. WTF? I was thethering my OG Moto Cliq when it came out and they still didnt care!

    So…lets break this down:

    -Cox Cable 25MB service for $55 a month and I run about 800GB + a month on the home network

    -TMobile Unlimited 3G: $30/month and I CANNOT tether or use above 2GB-5gb a month (industry standard).

    Everyone seems to just bend over backwards and pay more and get less! Where is the innovation driving speeds faster and better with minimal cost increase. We are in the world of technology moving faster than we can think and we see are tougher and dumber restrictions. All you sheep just bend over and go

    “you’re breaking the laws and rules and blah blah blah!!!!”

    Actually no, we arent. The carriers are promising all these epic speeds but you cant use it! Its misleading and everyone gobbles up what the carriers say are now “new rules”!


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