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  • AT&T Cracking Down on MyWi Tethering?


    We've gotten a couple of tips today from users saying that they are receiving notices from AT&T regarding tethering. These users have been using MyWi for tethering, and are grandfathered into AT&T's old unlimited iPhone data plan.

    For one user, the notices began as a simple text message:
    "AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit att.com/dataplans."


    AT&T then followed up with this message via email:

    Dear [Customer],

    We've noticed your service plan may need updating.

    Many AT&T customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices, like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones– a practice commonly known as tethering. 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 you would like to continue tethering, please log into
    your account online at Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans - Wireless from AT&T, or call us
    at 1-888-860-6789 Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. CST
    or Saturday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. CST, by March 27, 2011
    to sign up for DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering.
    Here are details on the plan:

    DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering
    • $45 per month
    (this gives you 4GB in total, combining both your smartphone data plan for $25 and the tethering feature, $20)
    • $10 per each additional GB thereafter, added automatically as needed
    • Mobile Hotspot capabilities are included for compatible Smartphones

    If we don't hear from you, we'll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB afterMarch 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.

    It's easy to track your usage throughout the month so there are no bill surprises. For example, we send you free text messages when you reach 65, 90, and 100 percent of your plan's threshold. If you would like to monitor your account more closely, go towww.att.com/dataplans to learn about other ways to track your data usage.

    As a reminder, our smartphone data plans also include unlimited usage of Wi-Fi at no additional charge. AT&T smartphone customers can use Wi-Fi at home or on-the-go at any one of our more than 23,000 U.S. hotspots already included in your data plan.

    Thank you for bringing your account up to date. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve your mobile broadband needs.

    Sincerely,

    AT&T
    This is the first we've heard about users receiving messages regarding MyWi tethering from AT&T. One speculation as to how AT&T may know about tethering is the iOS 4.3 update, which allows the iPhone to be used a personal hotspot. It's possible that AT&T can now track data usage specifically to the device that's being tethered, regardless of whether its done through the personal hotspot feature in 4.3 or via MyWi.

    We'll keep you posted if we hear anything more on this issue. Thank you very much to the readers who sent this in to our tips email!

    UPDATE: Based on user comments that some users are getting the message that don't tether at all, it looks like AT&T is targeting users who have high data usage. As it turns out, MyWi shows up as 0 tether bytes.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: AT&T Cracking Down on MyWi Tethering? started by Matt Savoca View original post
    Comments 332 Comments
    1. Cody Overcash's Avatar
      Cody Overcash -
      test
    1. ynotrhyme's Avatar
      ynotrhyme -
      My cutoff date for my plan to get automatically changed is the 29th, lets see what happens.
    1. kadinh's Avatar
      kadinh -
      I stream Pandora almost 8 hours every day, watch Netflix during the other hours of the day, and I haven't received a letter/text from AT&T saying that I'm "tethering" (according to their new definition). I have MyWi, but hardly have a need to use it.
    1. JayHD's Avatar
      JayHD -
      I wonder what would happen if I changed the TTL on my iPhone. Could that cause a "false positive" for tethering, even though I would still be using the phone APN? If it did, that would confirm that TTL is a factor, but I'll bet I don't get the text. My guess is that the APN triggers the "check", then TTL is reviewed next.

      I could take screenshots of my changing the TTL, to give me some modicrum of "proof" if AT&T plays hardball.

      I'm gonna do this, unless someone that hasn't yet used up one of their two warning texts wants to step up and try this first?

      (I'd just like to point out that if AT&T would simply add 2 gigs of tethering to the unlimited plan, for another $10-$20, I'd gladly pay & get on with my life. That is all.)
    1. Stadsport's Avatar
      Stadsport -
      I received the initial text back in February, having used about 7gb (consistently for several months prior). I never received an email or a letter. Haven't heard or received anything since then until today, I received a new text:
      "We've noticed you're continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo inlc. 4GB) to use this feature, so we're planning to update your line with the required plan soon. Visit att.com/dataplans or call (877) 446-5250."
      Still no letter, still no email, plan hasn't changed. I've never seen a "cutoff date" or anything and as far as I'm concerned, a text message isn't a legal form of documented communication.
    1. kraziebone's Avatar
      kraziebone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stadsport View Post
      I received the initial text back in February, having used about 7gb (consistently for several months prior). I never received an email or a letter. Haven't heard or received anything since then until today, I received a new text:
      "We've noticed you're continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo inlc. 4GB) to use this feature, so we're planning to update your line with the required plan soon. Visit att.com/dataplans or call (877) 446-5250."
      Still no letter, still no email, plan hasn't changed. I've never seen a "cutoff date" or anything and as far as I'm concerned, a text message isn't a legal form of documented communication.
      I hope you're right, that would suck to lose unlimited. Have people been kicked off & charged for tethering yet or is it still just warnings?
    1. Browning151's Avatar
      Browning151 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stadsport View Post
      I received the initial text back in February, having used about 7gb (consistently for several months prior). I never received an email or a letter. Haven't heard or received anything since then until today, I received a new text:
      "We've noticed you're continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo inlc. 4GB) to use this feature, so we're planning to update your line with the required plan soon. Visit att.com/dataplans or call (877) 446-5250."
      Still no letter, still no email, plan hasn't changed. I've never seen a "cutoff date" or anything and as far as I'm concerned, a text message isn't a legal form of documented communication.
      Got the same text this morning and have been on the phone with AT&T quite a bit today, your plan will be changed at the start of your next billing cycle. According to third rep I talked to she told me that in section 6.2 of the wireless agreement that AT&T doesn't even have to notify you that they are going to change your plan for this, I don't know if that's bs or not as I didn't have my WA in front of me at the time. She also said that they can see that the internet connection is terminating on another device other than the iPhone and that's how it's being detected. I made a post in the other tethering thread HERE. So far still getting stonewalled and told that there is nothing I can do to stop it from being changed at this point.
    1. Slate55's Avatar
      Slate55 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Browning151 View Post
      Got the same text this morning and have been on the phone with AT&T quite a bit today, your plan will be changed at the start of your next billing cycle. According to third rep I talked to she told me that in section 6.2 of the wireless agreement that AT&T doesn't even have to notify you that they are going to change your plan for this, I don't know if that's bs or not as I didn't have my WA in front of me at the time. She also said that they can see that the internet connection is terminating on another device other than the iPhone and that's how it's being detected. I made a post in the other tethering thread HERE. So far still getting stonewalled and told that there is nothing I can do to stop it from being changed at this point.

      Same here! got my message today.... my billing period ending is the 11th .. I have filed a dispute and they are "reviewing" my account they will notify me before my new billing cycle if the contract is changing. the customer service reps i spoke to includeing a supervisor claimed he was unclear about the timeline of this because this was the first "wave" of notifications and disputes.
    1. PYRE's Avatar
      PYRE -
      I received my second text today. I called and was told my. account was flagged for tethering. I asked how I can be flagged for tethering when I don't tether, basically playing dumb. All she said is that it was detected in th past. I put in an appeal with them and said I would drop at&t if my plan got changed automatically. She said the appeal cab last 2-3 months. Not sure if I should just not tether for the period of the appeal and see what happens. Or should I just treat this as a bluff by AT&T and keep tethering?
    1. SuperflyJimmy's Avatar
      SuperflyJimmy -
      Has anyone gotten the text from ATT if they are tethering but remaining under the 2gb limit?
    1. Browning151's Avatar
      Browning151 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Slate55 View Post
      Same here! got my message today.... my billing period ending is the 11th .. I have filed a dispute and they are "reviewing" my account they will notify me before my new billing cycle if the contract is changing. the customer service reps i spoke to includeing a supervisor claimed he was unclear about the timeline of this because this was the first "wave" of notifications and disputes.
      How did you file the dispute? I was never given that option when calling the specialist department and they flat out refused to let me speak to any supervisor or manager at all.
    1. ynotrhyme's Avatar
      ynotrhyme -
      Is the data downloaded off newsgroups a really easy thing to detect compared with average user surfing data? Just wanna know just in case.
    1. Browning151's Avatar
      Browning151 -
      Quote Originally Posted by PYRE View Post
      I received my second text today. I called and was told my. account was flagged for tethering. I asked how I can be flagged for tethering when I don't tether, basically playing dumb. All she said is that it was detected in th past. I put in an appeal with them and said I would drop at&t if my plan got changed automatically. She said the appeal cab last 2-3 months. Not sure if I should just not tether for the period of the appeal and see what happens. Or should I just treat this as a bluff by AT&T and keep tethering?
      If you are using MyWi I would definitely stop, using any others you are still pushing your luck.

      Quote Originally Posted by SuperflyJimmy View Post
      Has anyone gotten the text from ATT if they are tethering but remaining under the 2gb limit?
      I was told that when my plan changes I can take off the tethering and just have the 2gb capped plan but if tethering was found again they would add the tethering back. Seems like AT&T is serious about cracking down on un-paid tethering.
    1. mrhozer's Avatar
      mrhozer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Browning151 View Post
      Got the same text this morning and have been on the phone with AT&T quite a bit today, your plan will be changed at the start of your next billing cycle. According to third rep I talked to she told me that in section 6.2 of the wireless agreement that AT&T doesn't even have to notify you that they are going to change your plan for this, I don't know if that's bs or not as I didn't have my WA in front of me at the time. She also said that they can see that the internet connection is terminating on another device other than the iPhone and that's how it's being detected. I made a post in the other tethering thread HERE. So far still getting stonewalled and told that there is nothing I can do to stop it from being changed at this point.
      Seems like they are not willing to negotiate. So did you try to flat out deny that you were tethering at first? And then they simply claimed that you were?

      I was thinking of trying the play dumb tactic, but it seems like that won't get me far if they have a way to detect multiple mac addresses or browsers. I have connected at least 8 different devices at different times, and probably about 7 differet browsers. So the question now is, what are our options?

      I see some people saying something about an extra $20/mo to add tethering, will they allow us to add this option to our existing 'unlimited' plans? I know about the $45/mo for 4GB they are advertising, but is this on top of the current $30/mo unlimited plan, or a replacement?

      I don't recall the original contract I signed saying anything about no tethering, then again, how could I find out since I was never given a copy of the original contract I signed. That right there seems like it's worthy of a class action lawsuit.

      Also, since this is a breach of contract on their part, does anyone now if they are allowing people to terminate without Earily Termination Fees? I am considering ditching wireless service and going exclusively wifi for phone/text/web.
    1. Browning151's Avatar
      Browning151 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mrhozer View Post
      Seems like they are not willing to negotiate. So did you try to flat out deny that you were tethering at first? And then they simply claimed that you were?

      I was thinking of trying the play dumb tactic, but it seems like that won't get me far if they have a way to detect multiple mac addresses or browsers. I have connected at least 8 different devices at different times, and probably about 7 differet browsers. So the question now is, what are our options?

      I see some people saying something about an extra $20/mo to add tethering, will they allow us to add this option to our existing 'unlimited' plans? I know about the $45/mo for 4GB they are advertising, but is this on top of the current $30/mo unlimited plan, or a replacement?

      I don't recall the original contract I signed saying anything about no tethering, then again, how could I find out since I was never given a copy of the original contract I signed. That right there seems like it's worthy of a class action lawsuit.

      Also, since this is a breach of contract on their part, does anyone now if they are allowing people to terminate without Earily Termination Fees? I am considering ditching wireless service and going exclusively wifi for phone/text/web.
      Flat out denied tethering, they said their system still indicated tethering because "they can see where the connection terminates, if it goes to another device other than your phone" is what they told me. They said my unlimited plan would be permanently gone and that I was being put on DataPro 4gb with tethering. No option to add it to your unlimited plan, and they said if I terminated service I would be charged ETF because I was still in contract. They've pretty much stonewalled me into only being able to talk to one of their "specialist" reps and will not elevate me to a manager or supervisor and told me that the only way to speak with someone else was to call the "presidents office". A call to the presidents office of investor relations and a call to the specialist department from their executive response team has pretty much gotten me the same response. You're getting changed and there's nothing you can do about it. Period.
    1. mrhozer's Avatar
      mrhozer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Browning151 View Post
      Flat out denied tethering, they said their system still indicated tethering because "they can see where the connection terminates, if it goes to another device other than your phone" is what they told me. They said my unlimited plan would be permanently gone and that I was being put on DataPro 4gb with tethering. No option to add it to your unlimited plan, and they said if I terminated service I would be charged ETF because I was still in contract. They've pretty much stonewalled me into only being able to talk to one of their "specialist" reps and will not elevate me to a manager or supervisor and told me that the only way to speak with someone else was to call the "presidents office". A call to the presidents office of investor relations and a call to the specialist department from their executive response team has pretty much gotten me the same response. You're getting changed and there's nothing you can do about it. Period.
      I guess I won't do anything then, and let them charge me the extra $15/mo, I rarely go over 4GB anyways, but one thing is for sure: they have lost a customer just to get an extra $105 ($15/mo for 7 months) out of me. I was planning on just continuing to use their their service after my contract expired, at my current rate, but now I will definitely go another route.

      Their power is getting out of hand, after they take over T-mobile, they will have like 70% of all wireless subscribers, and 100% of the GSM market. I think it's time to boycott, I will probably go the wifi route, or maybe even get on with verizon. AT&T will not receive my business ever again unless they stop this stunt right away. They really want to lose long term customers to pick up a few pennies, so be it!

      Seriously, how much does it really cost to allow people to access a router that would otherwise lay dormant. They would have to maintain it reguardless, not matter how much data passed through. They are fools for not simply allowing this to run it's course for the next 6-7 months. They should be focusing on getting their 4G network ready so that people can actually have the data and speed they want, instead of trying to pinch pennies from people for 3G. Logic Fail AT&T!
    1. Browning151's Avatar
      Browning151 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mrhozer View Post
      I guess I won't do anything then, and let them charge me the extra $15/mo, I rarely go over 4GB anyways, but one thing is for sure: they have lost a customer just to get an extra $105 ($15/mo for 7 months) out of me. I was planning on just continuing to use their their service after my contract expired, at my current rate, but now I will definitely go another route.

      Their power is getting out of hand, after they take over T-mobile, they will have like 70% of all wireless subscribers, and 100% of the GSM market. I think it's time to boycott, I will probably go the wifi route, or maybe even get on with verizon. AT&T will not receive my business ever again unless they stop this stunt right away. They really want to lose long term customers to pick up a few pennies, so be it!
      This is pretty much how I feel about AT&T at this point. My mom has been with them since wayyy back when they were BellSouth Mobility and I've been on a family plan with her for 10 yrs now and up until this point I've always been happy with my service. I will be taking my business elsewhere once my contract is up and I will not be recommending their service to anyone. I'd gladly pay to add tethering to my unlimited plan if that was an option, but they refuse to allow that, all they are seeing is dollar signs by forcing people into these other plans. I hope the acquisition of T-Mobile isn't allowed to happen, less competition for AT&T is in no way a good thing.
    1. mrhozer's Avatar
      mrhozer -
      EDIT: Seems like this first thought definitely works, because if you go to the att website from the computer browser, it will assume that you're on your phone, and will automatically try to get you to log into your account instead of taking you to the default page (and no, I have never tried to log into my account before on the computer I'm using now).

      I just started using PDAnet today, it seems to be a real workaround when you turn the 'hide usage' on. All the websites load as mobile sites, and a test on the browser shows that it detects an iphone as the input device. The only downside is that you can't bridge the connection to other devices in windows, and some sites keep wanting to show mobile version only.

      It might be too late to use this method and to continue the 'free' tethering if you already got the second warning. But I might use it until I get an increased bill.



      However, if AT&T wants to bend the rules and start adding absurd charges, here are some ways that users can counter and save a lot of money on their bill, legally:

      1) Reduce your minutes on your account: If you currently have a high minute plan (more than the 450 minute plan), then lower it. You are only required to have 'a' minute plan, it doesn't need to be the expensive plans from when you first signed up, and can reduce it whenever you want. There are ways to get free phone calls via 3g or wifi (using another local phone number, and no, not skype) (I don't wan't to list the best solution here, as AT&T will try to use their evil powers to shut it down).

      2) Reduce or eliminate your text message plan: There are plenty of free text message services on the app store (even using the same phone number from the source I mentioned before). I use TextNow, but it has limited area codes, and you will have to tell your friends to never text your AT&T number. You could save $20/mo if you have the unlimited text plan.

      3) Drop any other bogus services you might have, like AT&T navigation, roadside assistance, early night and weekends, familymap, international long distance or texts. There are workarounds for all these services, for cheaper or free.

      If you have all these premium features, you can easily drop them anytime from the "myAT&T" app, under features, without having to call them. You can easily save $40-60/mo alone by dropping the unlimited text, and lowering your minutes.

      Finally, stick it to them: I have about 3000 unused rollover minutes (I barely use my AT&T number), I'm considering calling some looped recording message in puerto rico, or panama, or the virgin islands, or wherever the most expensive "National" call AT&T allows, and just let it run all night. It should cost them quite a bit for 50 hours of me sleeping to a recorded message from 4000+ miles away.
    1. ynotrhyme's Avatar
      ynotrhyme -
      Once i get changed, im taking my business elsewhere. I dont like the way this is being handled. I understand the legal ******** about tethering but removing our unlimited data plan? Why not just add the tethering, im hoping alot of people take their business elsewhere just like im doing so at$Fee can take a nice hit in the long run.
    1. cldipad's Avatar
      cldipad -
      Quote Originally Posted by ynotrhyme View Post
      Once i get changed, im taking my business elsewhere. I dont like the way this is being handled. I understand the legal ******** about tethering but removing our unlimited data plan? Why not just add the tethering, im hoping alot of people take their business elsewhere just like im doing so at$Fee can take a nice hit in the long run.
      I agree. I plan on switching carriers if they change my plan. I'm not under contract so I'm fine leaving. It's just sad that ATT treats their customers this way. They didn't offer tethering and the iPhone community found a way to have the functionality. Now that ATT offers it they want to cash in. I'd pay an extra $30 a month to tether on unlimited. Just think how much money they could make. This is a simple case of big corporation not knowing what the customer wants. ATT has been alienating it's customers for some time. Verizon, Sprint and T Mobile are taking more and more of ATT share of the market. Ultimately you can't run a successful business when you're pissing off your customers. It's just a matter of time.