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MyWi 4.0
AT&T isn't playing games when it comes to unauthorized tethering apps

Things are quickly changing when it comes to internet data plans. While we were used to a plethora of unlimited data plans for our smartphones and even our home internet connections, service providers are now implementing bandwidth caps to curb data usage

When it comes to smartphones, many users feel that that should be able to use that data anyway they please, however, service providers clearly don't feel the same way. For this reason, data tethering -- which allows you to share your smartphone internet data connection with other devices -- is usually a separate charge from your data plan.

Those that get around this extra fee by jailbreaking and using "unauthorized" apps had better start watching your back -- AT&T is beginning to crackdown on users. According to TUAW, AT&T is sending out letters to customers that it believes are using unauthorized tethering solutions. Here's a snippet from the full text (which can be found here): 

Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T’s mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan. 

Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan…

If we don’t hear from you, we’ll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB after March 27, 2011. The new plan – whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you – will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan.

If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required.

One of the most popular apps for jailbroken iPhones is MyWi. MyWi allows a user to tether their iPhone without payingthe additional monthly tethering fee to AT&T. The app allows tethering via USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi and is available for a one-time fee of $19.99

The letter doesn't say how AT&T was able to determine that the customer was tethering, but it stands to reason that grandfathered unlimited data plan customers that are using multiple gigabytes of data per month are prime suspects.

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RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By Brandon Hill on 3/18/2011 10:09:25 AM , Rating: 1
But is that applicable if you are clearly violating your own AT&T contract by using tethering solutions?

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By JBird7986 on 3/18/2011 10:13:00 AM , Rating: 4
They'd have to prove it. Who's to say that you're not just watching tons of movies on your phone?

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By SilthDraeth on 3/18/2011 11:34:23 AM , Rating: 5
If you are connecting through their network, they know what you are doing with your phone?

If you haven't heard of Carrier IQ... I know my Samsung Epic "HAD" it. Now it doesn't. Of course this is a Sprint/Samsung Phone, but I am willing to bet that phones on other carriers have it, or something similar installed by default, so unless you have a ROM with it removed, they know "exactly" how you are using your phone if they want to.

h t t p: / /

Posted by k0nane on XDA Developers for Samsung Epic

"What Is Carrier IQ? Why Should We Care?

Put simply - and bluntly - Carrier IQ is a software package buried deep within Android by Samsung at the behest of Sprint. It has been in active use since the time of the Moment, if not before. The company that develops it, also known as Carrier IQ, bills it as "Mobile Service Intelligence". In their own words,

[T]he combination of the MSIP and IQ Insight lets you move seamlessly from broad trend data across many users, through comparative groups down to diagnostic data from individual devices. Now, not only can you identify trends, you have the power to drill down to specific instances, giving you the insight your specialists need to make a difference.

On its own, that description can vary from harmless, to worrying, depending on how you look at it. It's not until one drills deep down into the system and ferrets out every piece of the software that one truly knows what it contains. As some of you might remember, ACS took the first steps toward disabling the Carrier IQ software with the release of SyndicateROM and Xtreme Kernel 1.0. That, however, didn't even scratch the surface.

Carrier IQ's native libraries are plainly visible - and in /system/lib. During every boot, this service is launched - you can see it in Settings > Applications > Running Services as "IQAgent Service". These native libraries are called by non-native (Android application) libraries located in ext.jar (the client) and framework.jar (the service). Removal of these (rather obviously-named) libraries alone, be it the .so files or the libraries in framework or ext, will, obviously, break boot. So I - k0nane - had to dig deeper. To make a long story short, reference to the IQ Service and IQ Client were littered across the deepest portions of the framework, and some of the most basic functions of the Android system as we know it.

Carrier IQ as a platform is designed to collect "metrics" at any scale. What I found it to hook into is far beyond the scope of anything a carrier needs - or should want - to be collecting. Carrier IQ sits in the middle of, and "checks" the data of, SMS and MMS messages. It listens for and receives every battery change notifications. It hooks into every web page you view, and every XML file your device reads. It receives every press of the touch screen. It 'sees' what you type on the physical keyboard. It reads every number you press in the dialer. It can track which applications you use, what 'type' they are, how often, and for how long. It hooks into data sent and received.

I, and the rest of ACS, ask Samsung and Sprint - why do you want this information? Why do you need it? Why is the capability in place?

The only saving grace - if there is one - to this nasty, ten-legged mutant spider is that its logs are off by default..."

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By vol7ron on 3/18/2011 3:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
Also, if you're using a browser then basic HTTP shows your user agent. Easy to determine a mobile browser from a laptop browser.

By theapparition on 3/18/2011 4:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
Not really, because it's quite easy to enable desktop mode in mobile browsers.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By theArchMichael on 3/18/2011 11:42:50 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, smartphones that have full support for flash 10 can access just about any site that a pc can (unless it is disallowed... like Hulu), so who's to say which device was the termination point?

What are they going to do? Intercept your data packets and read the browser request headers to determine the user agent. If that's the case, I think they may be overstepping their bounds of being a wireless transmission provider. I would rather my wireless carrier THAT I PAY not root through my (self) important work and also have knowledge of the weird porn that I watch.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:53:18 PM , Rating: 2
What are they going to do? Intercept your data packets and read the browser request headers to determine the user agent.

The dolphin browser allows you to spoof your device to look like a PC so websites think your using a normal browser.

I think they are mass sending this letter to high usage subscribers in an attempt to kick them off unlimited data plans and hope that most will choose to stop tethering or get the tethering plan.

19.99 is a rip off for a tethering app, it just shows how misinformed (or rich) apple users are.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By tayb on 3/18/2011 8:21:05 PM , Rating: 3
Misinformed or rich Apple users? I've never even heard of this app or known anyone who tethers to do so using this app. Just because an Anand article states that's it is popular doesn't mean it is popular.

If I was a customer who received this letter I would call them and inform them that I do not authorize them to change my plan and, if they do, I shall be canceling my plan immediately. Prove that I'm illegally tethering.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By mherlund on 3/21/2011 3:37:14 PM , Rating: 2
I've never even heard of this app or known anyone who tethers to do so using this app. Just because an Anand article states that's it is popular doesn't mean it is popular.

Just because you have not heard of it does not mean that it is not popular. I have heard of MyWi, pretty much every article I have read about mobile phone tethering mentions it.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By mherlund on 3/21/2011 3:34:24 PM , Rating: 2
19.99 is a rip off for a tethering app, it just shows how misinformed (or rich) apple users are.

What are they misinformed about? What is the alternative? Paying $20/month vs a $20 one time fee? I think the $20 fee is the cheaper way to go...a "rich" person would be the one paying the extra $20/month.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By AstroCreep on 3/18/11, Rating: 0
RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By Gzus666 on 3/18/2011 12:14:21 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to go out on a limb and say this isn't how they do it. MAC is only passed to layer 2 boundaries, the minute it hits a layer 3 device, the MAC is changed to that device. I am not familiar with the inner workings of the tether apps, but they likely work like a wireless router and therefore would obfuscate the MAC. On top of all that, MACs can be faked very easily, so that is far from fool proof.

I would think they just check for these tethering programs running on their network.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By DanNeely on 3/18/2011 1:14:31 PM , Rating: 2
The other obvious way to see what's attached would be to look at browser IDs, if their packet sniffing indicates you're surfing the web using a desktop browser that's a pretty good indication you're tethered.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By CZroe on 3/18/2011 4:16:20 PM , Rating: 2
MAC is part of the Ethernet frame, not a TCP/IP packet. Even so, all ISPs run proxy servers, so privacy isn't the biggest barrier. They can tell any number of ways. I think the best solution is to ensure that it's running over the same data as your smartphone apps and then connect to an encrypted VPN at home and tunnel through with your tethered device. That will count toward BOTH data caps though.

FWIW, I have the grandfathered unlimited plan and there is still a 5GB unspoken cap. Cross it too many times and expect a nasty letter threatening to end your service.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By GeekWithFire on 3/18/2011 10:40:45 AM , Rating: 2
I think they only leg they have to stand on is getting to the point of calling Jailbreaking or Rooting a violation of contract (which I think the courts have already ruled on). Otherwise, you are just using software on the phone. So don't call the software tethering, call it data syncing.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By theArchMichael on 3/18/2011 11:33:06 AM , Rating: 2
That may be for an Iphone, but for Android I'm not sure rooting your phone violates any agreement. I have also used an open source tethering solution called Barnacle Wifi tether (5 stars btw, it supports a lot of even older Androids) and it can be downloaded directly from the Android Market, I don't think it needs root access.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By vision33r on 3/18/2011 12:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
Android's policy does not override the Carrier's policies they are 2 different policies really.

They don't have to give your Android device service if they choose to.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 2:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
Barnacle requires root.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 4:38:08 PM , Rating: 2
Apple went to court to try to make it illegal to modify the iphone. The court ruled against apple so I don't think they can say anything about rooting or jail braking.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By fearrun on 3/18/2011 10:41:47 AM , Rating: 1
How would a contract apply to a Nexus One owner on their network or any unlocked phone that has a form of tethering?

I am now running Gingerbread and WiFi hotspot has been built in since Froyo. I am literally only paying for their voice and data service, they do not own any part of my phone nor the OS and software that runs on it.

If they so much as raise a whisper about me violating any terms of service, they will have immediately lost a customer.

RE: Automatic Contract changes?
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 4:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
Does AT&T really want to come up with more reasons for people not to want to join their network? Since they lost exclusivity with the iphone there really isn't ANY compelling reason for people to use them. It seems their new policies along with capping DSL are designed to chase away all of their customers. If you want a cap on smartphone data just put it in the contract and don't tell people how to use their phones.

Verizon is currently offering the HTC thunderbolt 4g LTE smartphone with an unlimited plan. So who in their right mind would sign up for AT&T anyways.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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