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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 AstroCreep on 3/18/2011 12:00:11 PM , Rating: 0
quote:
They'd have to prove it. Who's to say that you're not just watching tons of movies on your phone?


It can be easily proven by the MAC addresses that are utilizing the connection over the phone's assigned IP address.
My thought is that AT&T is logging this type of data, then later, runs a report of assigned IP addresses and see which MAC address(es) are assigned to equipment they service and which addresses are foreign. If they find any that weren't "Authorized" by AT&T they would then check to see if that IP address's account-holder is paying for tethering. If not, send that person one of these passive-agressive letters.

Again, just my theory. I'd love to know for sure how they're doing it.


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.


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