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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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Prepare to Litigate
By TheRealArdrid on 3/18/2011 10:25:48 AM , Rating: 0
This is going to make for some very interesting litigation. AT&T is effectively making unilaterally changes to a customer's existing contract and then adding unauthorized charges to their account. Sounds like grounds for a consumer to immediately terminate their contractual relationship with AT&T, without paying ETF, for breach of contract.

And to AT&T, go to hell. You may want to make useless distinctions between what flows through your pipes but the reality is: data is data! It doesn't matter if I'm using it to watch movies, check email, surf the web, stream Pandora/ESPN, or tether; it's all the same data. If I have a data plan, I should be able to do whatever I want with the data that I've already paid you for.




RE: Prepare to Litigate
By macrogeek on 3/18/2011 10:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
I would bet that if you read through the contract the customer signed, they agreed not to use applications to circumvent the tethering fee.

I understand how you feel about your data being device and content agnostic, but that doesn't legally have anything to do with the contract the customer signed with AT&T.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By Murst on 3/18/2011 11:33:39 AM , Rating: 2
You obviously have never read through your contract. Let me make it easy for you:

quote:
Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/smartphone to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose. Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network, including without limitation, after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage


Taken from: http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/leg...

You should probably be familiar with the terms of a contract before you start making claims about it.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By ICBM on 3/18/2011 12:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
I agree data is data, and it should not be discriminated against. However it looks like they covered themselves with this clause, as disgusting as it is.

Typically in this case, one would say don't use ATT and go with someone else, but I am sure all the other guys have similar clauses. Now when data plans were unlimited, I could understand putting this tethering clause in. However with data caps in place now, I don't see this being applicable.

This seems to be more like a price fixing / monopolistic type of action which the SEC should look into.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By kmmatney on 3/18/2011 12:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. AT&T's actions make sense for those with unlimited plans (which I have at the moment), but seems greedy for those with data caps.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By DM0407 on 3/18/2011 3:12:25 PM , Rating: 2
The one problem I see is they need to prove beyond doubt that the user was tethering and that it is just not an assumption based on usage. Also "modify service" is a questionable term. Does that give them to right to add unauthorized fees or just disconnect or limit your bandwidth?


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By theapparition on 3/18/2011 4:08:55 PM , Rating: 2
Beyond doubt??? This isn't a court of law. People get that confused.

This is a private contract between you and AT&T. The contract states that they are free to change terms at any time. If they exercise their right to change terms, you also have the right to cancel the contract with no penalties.

Don't like it, go to a carrier that you do like.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 4:54:44 PM , Rating: 2
It can very well end up in court, this is the type of thing that class action lawsuits are all about.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By TheRealArdrid on 3/19/2011 12:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
And you should perhaps do some research into contractual provisions and how the courts feel about them. Just because AT&T throws something into a contract does not mean it's enforceable by any stretch of the imagination. Unilateral contractual modifications have been repeatedly denied by the courts as being unconscionable, despite what plain language appeared in the contract at the outset, and particularly in situations where one party (AT&T) has considerably more bargaining power than the other party (consumer).

Do your homework next time.


RE: Prepare to Litigate
By dxf2891 on 3/21/2011 4:43:55 PM , Rating: 2
So what you're saying is due to the fact that I've been a customer of this company since it was Cingular One, I should be able to send them a letter stating that "Unless you dispute this request in 90 days, from that day forward you agree to give me and my family your service for free until a time that we are no longer satisfied with said service"? This is essentially what AT&T is telling me, a loyal customer for 12 years. I sold you an unlimited data plan, that I am now going to limit. Oh and by the way, you can only use the data that I say you can use. And if you don't like it, I'll send you a letter that you won't probably read invalidating our contract only to replace it with one in my favor. K.M.A. AT&T.


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