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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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By Pjotr on 3/18/2011 12:29:00 PM , Rating: 4
This is really amazing to me living in Europe. Here, phones are not limited in technology. If I want to surf on my laptop via my phone, I connect using a USB cable, Bluetooth, or if the phone supports it, WiFi. I have a data plan subscription from an operator, which can range from 200 MB/month to fully unlimited (often included with your monthly fee). When you hit the limit, speed goes down to 64 kbit, but still works and you can pay extra to increase again.

An operator limiting functionality on devices would commit suicide. Noone would accept that operators control what features are available in phones, when phones clearly support them.

It seems clear that the market here works, while in USA it's an oligopoly where operators are able to dictate terms over consumers.

RE: Fascinating
By aegisofrime on 3/18/2011 1:31:26 PM , Rating: 4
I live in Singapore, and I'm amazed that a first world country like the USA has to deal with such shenanigans. Here,I use my data plan however I like it, I had to look up what the hell is phone unlocking (apparently, it's against the law to carrier lock phones here).

I think Americans have to stop worshiping the free market. Too free a market means that powerful corporations will screw over consumers when they have a chance. Oh sure, you will argue,"In a free market if I don't like a company I can go for it's competitors" Fine, if there are competitors, but there's things like market entry barriers (cost of R&D, acquiring distributors etc) and collusion.

RE: Fascinating
By Jeffk464 on 3/18/2011 4:46:05 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, there are very bright people sitting in their corporate offices spending all their time thinking how to extract the most money from their customers.

RE: Fascinating
By Kurz on 3/19/2011 9:16:12 AM , Rating: 2
>.> they wouldn't be using their time to screw their customers if the FCC didn't give them monopoly control of the market.

RE: Fascinating
By Shadowmaster625 on 3/21/2011 9:02:50 AM , Rating: 2
America is not free market. That's called propaganda. It is as obvious as the gaudy pictures of the big red white and blue Uncle Sam. AT&T is still around for one reason and one reason only: stupid people give them their money. And AT&T uses that money to build a better mousetrap.... for its customers.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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