Print 27 comment(s) - last by mostyle.. on May 10 at 1:06 AM

TetherMe, available in Cydia.
AT&T can easily spot customers that are using unauthorized tethering apps

In March, AT&T began cracking down on customers it believed were jailbreaking their iPhones and using "unauthorized" apps to tether data for no extra fee. Text messages were sent out to suspected customers with an ultimatum: Stop tethering, or we'll automatically enroll you in our $45 DataPro plan.  

The folks over at Android Police point out that jailbroken iPhones are easy to pinpoint when tethered, because many tethering apps use the same technique as the one inherent in iOS. When tethered, the iPhone "sends traffic through an alternate APN (AT&T access point/router) for the express purpose of identifying the traffic as tethered data. This makes it extremely easy for AT&T to identify whether or not an iOS device is utilizing tethering, and just how much of their data is consumed via tethering."

The customers AT&T is likely targeting most are those with the grandfathered unlimited data plans. They can tether their hearts out, without worrying about going over their allotted data cap.

IPhoneDownloadBlog has a list of iPhone tethering apps. MyWi, the most popular one, uses the same APN as the iPhone's standard tethering system, so it is not recommended if you want to go undetected. Two other alternatives are PdaNet -- which offers a "hide" function -- and TetherMe.

However, some users in the comments section of iPhoneDownloadBlog are saying that even with the updated versions of these tethering apps with hiding functionality enabled can’t escape AT&T’s wrath.

“I used the new PDANET since the day it was released a few weeks ago,” wrote one commenter. “Shortly after and consistent with 4.3 upgrade I received an email from ATT.”

So perhaps no one is safe anymore when it comes to unauthorized tethering on the iPhone.

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What about Android?
By RjBass on 5/9/2011 9:01:34 AM , Rating: 2
I have been using the built in tether app on my stock Android 2.2 device every so often and have not received the email. Now I am not using the app and large amounts of data on a daily basis, just maybe once a month or so. But still, is the Android platform not as easily traceable as iOS?

RE: What about Android?
By smackababy on 5/9/2011 9:11:10 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't think they'd be going after those "once in a while" tethers, but rather those that do it on a daily basis. I don't have AT&T anymore (nor will I ever again if I can help it), but I tethered on Sprint with a rooted Android phone when my internet went out quite a bit. Never got any emails though.

RE: What about Android?
By Mitch101 on 5/9/2011 9:14:48 AM , Rating: 2
Probably just easier on the iPhone as the article says they all use a similar method. Probably also the testing grounds and soon enough AT&T will target Android even if its just certain app methods.

RE: What about Android?
By CZroe on 5/9/2011 2:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah. I'm sure AT&T want's to get the bulk of similar tetherers out of the way first.

Now, I'm a grandfathered Unlimited user. I've been a long-time paid PdaNet user and stopped using it years ago (ruins battery life; gets HOT). I recently bought TetherMe for $2 and have yet to use it. I used the free tether methods every couple months. I have never received anything from AT&T.

I do want to point out that an Unlomited user can't use as much bandwidth as they want, as the article implies. There has always been a 5GB cap that triggers a nasty letter about impacting usability for other customers and threatening to disconnect you if you stop. Now, they just assume ther you are using tethering and send you a notice that you will automatically be enrolled in a tethering plan if you don't stop. Sneaky way to get you off teh Unlimited plan. Anyway, they'll never raise the 5GB cap despite usage scenarios changing (Netflix for iPhone wasn't around back then). They have reason to force you off of it so that they can take advantage of increased bandwidth demand. It's a shame.

Also, I wanted to point out that they can still tell even with the alternate APN because your traffic is likely frequenting sites that are not mobile-friendly. Using a VPN may help

RE: What about Android?
By vol7ron on 5/9/2011 10:25:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still curious if they're useragent sniffing.

If they're seeing IE or Chrome as browser agents, then they might automatically suspect that phone as a tethered device, since Safari is the default.

Of course there are some apps that allow you to use a different agent.

RE: What about Android?
By mostyle on 5/10/2011 1:06:08 AM , Rating: 2
There has always been a 5GB cap that triggers a nasty letter about impacting usability for other customers and threatening to disconnect you if you stop.

Really? Maybe its random but I pulled 2, 5, 9, 2 all GB in consecutive months and never received the cease and desist speech... Again, maybe I just got lucky. I too am on the old grandfathered unlimited.

Currently testing a straight talk sim in my Captivate and loving it.

RE: What about Android?
By mars2k on 5/9/2011 9:26:46 AM , Rating: 3
Wow! and there are actually people out there that think it's good that ATT bought T-mobile. ATT is the "Great Satan"

RE: What about Android?
By theapparition on 5/9/2011 10:23:15 AM , Rating: 3
Verizon will soon be implementing this. There has already been quite the fuss regarding it, although nothing "official" from Verizon.

Sprint has been able to track tether'ers from day 1, although they haven't done anything about it.

Back to Verizon, the info is that they immediately know if you are tethering. You won't be able to hide it.

Also, they know if you root your phone. Not as clear what they might do with this information. Possibly deny warranty claims.

AT&T sucks, but they are not alone here.

RE: What about Android?
By Solandri on 5/9/2011 12:28:42 PM , Rating: 3
Sprint has been able to track tether'ers from day 1, although they haven't done anything about it.

Sprint gained this ability in 2003/2004 shortly after they rolled out 3G. The phone I got at the time (Sanyo MM-9000) was the last phone they made on which they couldn't tell if you were tethering or using the phone's built-in browser. They pulled it off the shelves about a month after it was released for this reason.

The bigger issue though is that if the carrier has a data cap, then they shouldn't care whether or not you tether. It costs them just as much money to transmit 5GB of phone browser data to your phone as it costs them to transmit 5GB of VPN data to your laptop tethered to your phone. 5GB is 5GB. If your cap is 5GB, they shouldn't care whether you use it tethered or not.

This artificial distinction between tethered and untethered dates back to the days when data plans were unlimited. Data consumption while tethered could be a lot higher than when using the phone's browser. So on an unlimited plan, there was good reason to distinguish between tethering or not.

By trying to enforce data caps AND charge people extra for tethering, they are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

RE: What about Android?
By smackababy on 5/9/2011 12:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
I was at a conference where the Verizon VP spoke about this and it was so dishearten to hear the misinformation and blatant lies about data usage. According to Verizon if they don't install caps (not just on mobile data) everyone will run out of bandwidth because a DVD quality movie (SD) is a 4GB size file.

These companies want to give us faster and faster internet and then limit how much we can use it more and more. Soon, all our internet "allowance" will be used up in a single day.

RE: What about Android?
By smackababy on 5/9/2011 12:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
Err! Meant disheartening. Damn you DT and your no edit button.

RE: What about Android?
By AlterEcho on 5/9/2011 1:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
That is why I use my Giganews VPN account to hide all my activity. I am not sure if the iPhone has VPN capability but this is what I use on my Droid X. And my VPN has the ability to carry USENET traffic, so no bottleneck. I use VPN for all my connections, anyway. I just do not like anyone having the ability to watch whatever traffic they want.

RE: What about Android?
By Chadder007 on 5/9/2011 9:47:20 AM , Rating: 2
PDANET isn't showing on Market on Verizon anymore by the way.

RE: What about Android?
By therealnickdanger on 5/9/2011 10:06:14 AM , Rating: 2
PDANet is so last decade. WiFi Hotspot Widget is the Free and works flawlessly.

!#@! ATT
By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 10:49:31 AM , Rating: 5
They basically have to make an educated guess if you're tethering or not. If they think you are, they can simply change your plan anyway they like.

How is this legal?

Fuck them. A 45$ fee to plug my phone into my computer for data? Fuck you ATT. What I do with my hardware is none of your business. If you want to charge me for bandwidth I use, that is yours, feel free. That is fine. However I am not going to pay 75$ for a shit-retarded 5GB cap, you damned morons.

I already switched to a 3rd party that buys from sprint/Vz in bulk, and passes much of the savings to its consumers in the form of realistic caps on its wireless net. 20GB VZ/50GB sprint. Its been great so far. Good riddance ATT, hello and Skype.

Im sure ill be rated down for the bad bad words (adult site? come on), but I think they are justified. Sick of these companies.

RE: !#@! ATT
By Flunk on 5/9/2011 11:44:51 AM , Rating: 1
Captitalism is fun isn't it? They can do whatever they like as long as it's in your contract. Their system, their rules.

I know, it's really annoying. I recently switched carriers to one that has about half the network to get unlimited data.

RE: !#@! ATT
By Pneumothorax on 5/9/2011 12:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is it isn't capitalism when the government itself is supporting these companies and through excessive rules and regulations, make it very hard for anyone else to start up.

RE: !#@! ATT
By smackababy on 5/9/2011 12:40:40 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't hard to start up, just costly. You have to either build or buy infrastructure and then maintain it. It is pure capitalism, unless there is a law against this that I am unaware of.

RE: !#@! ATT
By technozombie on 5/10/2011 12:27:50 AM , Rating: 2
There is a lot more too it than just having the money. The FCC has given away all the spectrum to television companies. The said companies don't want to relinquish their free(or really cheap) spectrum they were issued in a pre-cellphone world. This is a prime example of how government regulation causes mono/duo/oligopolies. We don't have this problem in the public spectrum such as 2.4ghz. What if all cellphones could operate together such as 802.11 wifi.

RE: !#@! ATT
By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 12:52:58 PM , Rating: 2
This wasn't even on a contract. So they can do it regardless.

RE: !#@! ATT
By Suntan on 5/9/2011 1:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
Captitalism is fun isn't it? They can do whatever they like as long as it's in your contract. Their system, their rules.

They can do whatever they like as long as their customers keep signing new contracts you mean…

Yeah, no one here (myself included) likes these crackdowns, but the reality is that the majority of their customers have no idea what tethering entails. Or at least, they have no idea what “free” tethering entails. As such, the carriers can “crack down” without worrying about alienating a large portion of their userbase.

Anyway, by all anecdotal reports, Sprint will be the one carrier that will continue to look the other way about tethering. Give them your business when your current contract runs out if it really bugs you.


RE: !#@! ATT
By espaghetti on 5/9/2011 2:45:37 PM , Rating: 1
I like capitalism.
If you can't read the contract, most likely, your government issued education has failed you.

RE: !#@! ATT
By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 3:29:46 PM , Rating: 3
It doesn't matter if its on a contract or not.

Contract breach? NO ETA!!!
By Enoch2001 on 5/9/2011 1:33:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure but, wouldn't AT&T mysteriously charging me $45/month and modifying my contract without my consent be a breach of the original contract, hence I should be able to cancel my contract without an ETA?

Just asking, not sure...

RE: Contract breach? NO ETA!!!
By Stuka on 5/9/2011 1:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
There's a clause in the contract that states that they reserve the right to modify or cancel the contract at any time if you do anything contrary to the rules therein. If tethering is expressly forbidden, then that is a violation and you have granted them the right to modify the terms of the contract.

Protest Anyone?
By smithme08 on 5/9/2011 2:27:55 PM , Rating: 2
I find it interesting, and odd, that no one has stated this previously.

One simple form of protest, for everyone who is on an "unlimited" or "capped" plan, would be to create/download some kind of application which simply sucks down data until you get near your cap, all using your phone, no tethering, etc...

Technically you're within the "rules" then.... (who knows for sure though, there are dozens if not hundreds of variations on all the contracts)

Something like doing a sit-in in front of a bus terminal....relatively peaceful protest that impacts the business in a way which might get enough attention to promote changes IF enough people do it. Who knows?

RE: Protest Anyone?
By espaghetti on 5/9/2011 2:52:00 PM , Rating: 1
Sucking the data rate down with your crap will piss off the productive people trying to use the network.

Fuck off hippie.

File this under "interesting".

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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