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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 1466 Comments
    1. joolsca's Avatar
      joolsca -
      Quote Originally Posted by jasonleebob View Post
      ok so i have been kinda raping their network but it is my only means of internet I'm on an iphone 4, FW4.2.1, MyWi 4.0, and i got the message yesterday. my usage last month was 165,154,376kb. I don't think I could make a believable excuss at this point.
      You'd think you guys would understand that THIS is why this is happening and that unfortunately AT&T or any other (rat bastard) Telco is going to do this and will be able to do so because tethering is considered a different service than just data usage on a phone now. The terms of your contract with AT&T (if you would actually read it) clearly allow for changes and they are sending out letters WARNING you that you now have the OPTION to sign up for tethering.

      It's too bad that rat bastard companies are in the business of making money and inevitable that some people will try to circumvent restrictions but that doesn't mean anyone has a basis for a lawsuit. Tethering and streaming etc are all newer issues for these companies and they ARE going to adapt and that is just the way it is.
    1. Skyhawk85U's Avatar
      Skyhawk85U -
      iPhone 4, 4.2.1
      MyWi
      Unlimited data (grandfathered, but for no reason)
      Usual use is 100-200 MB. Once last summer I hit 1.2 GB. I occasionally tether my 16 GB WiFi iPad.
      No text or email

      If I get hit we'll know they have an automated technical way to find tetherers. I hardly use 3G data because I always seem to be on WiFi.

      It really should be technically possible for AT&T to analyze everyone's data and spot tethering, as mentioned by several posts in this thread.
    1. xxdesmus's Avatar
      xxdesmus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Skyhawk85U View Post
      iPhone 4, 4.2.1
      MyWi
      Unlimited data (grandfathered, but for no reason)
      Usual use is 100-200 MB. Once last summer I hit 1.2 GB. I occasionally tether my 16 GB WiFi iPad.
      No text or email

      If I get hit we'll know they have an automated technical way to find tetherers. I hardly use 3G data because I always seem to be on WiFi.
      basically the same here:

      iPhone 4, 4.2.1
      MyWi
      Unlimited data (grandfathered, but for no reason)
      Usual use is 150-250 MB.
      I occasionally tether my 16 GB WiFi iPad.
      No text or email

      If I get an email or text then it's pretty much confirmed they are using some technical way of identifying users -- otherwise they are just trying to scare heavy data users in general.
    1. 3GFusion's Avatar
      3GFusion -
      Actually there is a tethered jailbreak out right now for iOS 4.3
    1. jimshep.bob's Avatar
      jimshep.bob -
      I am on iOS 4.1 with iPhone 4 and have had mywi for over year on current iPhone 4 and 3GS and have used wifi tethering with iPads,iPods,laptops and USB tethering with desktop that is also bridged with xbox 360.Usually use around 3gb a month.So far so good.No email or text.Must be looking for high data users I'm guessing.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Regarding the update in the first post, I'm not sure the "tethering bytes" is all that conclusive. There could still something in 4.3 that does some sort of check or tracking. Just yet another reason to not upgrade to 4.3. Having WyWi negates any real need to anyways.


      What I find to be extremely effed up on AT&T's part, is that they essentially want to double charge their customers. 1, you are already paying for a data plan, whether unlimited or not, which is mobile Internet service. 2, they want to charge you again, for mobile Internet service, just so you can use it with your laptop, or other devices.

      This makes ZERO sense to me from both a rational and technical standpoint, as it's akin to charging a home Internet client once for the connection and then a second time because they purchased a router from you and *might* be connecting additional computers and devices to it.

      It's absurd. This is all tethering is, it's turning your device into a friggin router. Just like any desktop OS has been able to do for years. I'm not going to pay again when I'm already paying for data. Like home Internet, how I route the data after it enters my router is my business. It's the same data, same pucking Internet for crying out loud.
    1. pacmac's Avatar
      pacmac -
      Quote Originally Posted by iliveudie View Post
      Alright, time to stream videos like an animal. Im deleting MyWi for now, and going to blow through 30gb of data over the next few days.

      This little stunt is really pissing me off...anyone care to join data hogging with me?


      But in all seriousness...we need to do some experimentation. We need a good amount of AT&T users to NOT tether for the next 5 days, and stream all day long.
      This is what I'm going to do after my account rolls to a new month..I'm on wifi at work everyday and home/Starbucks used 500mb no tethering..I'm going to suck up as much I can and see what happens
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by xxdesmus View Post
      As some people are pointing out — if AT&T was to switch you over to the data tethering 4GB plan as they are threatening to do you could then cancel your contract and they can’t charge you the ETF fee because they would have modified your previously agreed upon contract without your consent.

      Could be a win/win really for all of us who want to escape the cesspool that is AT&T.
      People may be saying this, but that doesn't make it true. Why would they let you out of a contract because you did something that broke it. More likely, you will receive a bill charging you a fee for the early termination of your contract. It varies based on your remaining time, but it will usually be in the hundreds of dollars.

      Also, taking the word of a customer rep who answers the phone as gospel is usually not the brightest decision to make.
    1. fbiryujin's Avatar
      fbiryujin -
      As much as this may hurt other users, (I don't mean to be selfish here) this can work in my favor. I am so sick of AT&T where I am. (Long Island) I cosntantly drop calls, and the other person can't hear me. I rarely ever used MyWi as I'm always around some type of internet connection. Now I am going to use Pandora/Netflix non-stop on my phone (even though I won't be actually paying attention to it) When they send me the text, I'll record the call when I call that number, and I'll get them to break the contract. Verizon, here I come :-D
    1. Electricmage's Avatar
      Electricmage -
      Quote Originally Posted by Moosestache View Post
      People may be saying this, but that doesn't make it true. Why would they let you out of a contract because you did something that broke it. More likely, you will receive a bill charging you a fee for the early termination of your contract. It varies based on your remaining time, but it will usually be in the hundreds of dollars.

      Also, taking the word of a customer rep who answers the phone as gospel is usually not the brightest decision to make.

      Is it just me, or are people failing to realize that they are binded to the contract as well? Unless there is something in the fine print, which would allude to all of this, then changing your service without your consent is illegal in the eyes of a court of law. I'm going to re jailbreak my iphone, tether and then call a lawyer if I get this message. They have plenty of free consulting.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by szr View Post
      What I find to be extremely effed up on AT&T's part, is that they essentially want to double charge their customers. 1, you are already paying for a data plan, whether unlimited or not, which is mobile Internet service. 2, they want to charge you again, for mobile Internet service, just so you can use it with your laptop, or other devices.

      This makes ZERO sense to me from both a rational and technical standpoint, as it's akin to charging a home Internet client once for the connection and then a second time because they purchased a router from you and *might* be connecting additional computers and devices to it.

      It's absurd. This is all tethering is, it's turning your device into a friggin router. Just like any desktop OS has been able to do for years. I'm not going to pay again when I'm already paying for data. Like home Internet, how I route the data after it enters my router is my business. It's the same data, same pucking Internet for crying out loud.
      Jeez, I'm sorry and it sucks that this is happening, but this is not like having a router in your home internet. At&t and verizon and every other provider has limited amounts of data they can transfer. In simple terms, when they get too much data either the speed of the connection slows or it fails. They are then forced to upgrade their systems which costs $$$$'s. They are billing iphone users based on their expected amount of data usage. Tethering is the easiest way for a user to vastly exceed the amount of usage a normal user would have. That is why they are now charging users extra to do this, because it is not allowed in your contract.

      Sell your at&t iphone, pay to terminate your contract, and get a verizon iphone. If you think verizon is going to allow this for long you are seriously mistaken, especially with the amount of data some of you people are using.
    1. ash3s2012's Avatar
      ash3s2012 -
      I got the dame thing from AT&T like 6 months ago Im pretty sure they knew from long time ago
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      It is too bad some of you all have ruined this for all of the rest of us.
    1. saunupe1911's Avatar
      saunupe1911 -
      Guys,

      This is just the beggining. They are going to make Exchange users upgrade to Enterprise data plans next. There are tons of users that have Exchange email accounts without an Enterprise data plan.
    1. rubenmer5's Avatar
      rubenmer5 -
      Quote Originally Posted by iPittsburgh View Post
      If you're only using 1-1.5 gb of data a month than I highly doubt you will receive a message, I'm sure this is more aimed at people who routinely use extremely high amounts of data like 10-15+gb
      I bet that's exactly whats happening. They are targeting high users.
    1. MacDevil7334's Avatar
      MacDevil7334 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Moosestache View Post
      Jeez, I'm sorry and it sucks that this is happening, but this is not like having a router in your home internet. At&t and verizon and every other provider has limited amounts of data they can transfer. In simple terms, when they get too much data either the speed of the connection slows or it fails. They are then forced to upgrade their systems which costs $$$$'s. They are billing iphone users based on their expected amount of data usage. Tethering is the easiest way for a user to vastly exceed the amount of usage a normal user would have. That is why they are now charging users extra to do this, because it is not allowed in your contract.

      Sell your at&t iphone, pay to terminate your contract, and get a verizon iphone. If you think verizon is going to allow this for long you are seriously mistaken, especially with the amount of data some of you people are using.
      Thank you for injecting some sanity into this discussion. I'm getting a little tired of jailbreakers thinking they are entitled to free EVERYTHING. You are right, it is a bit outrageous for AT&T to charge extra money for a service that costs them next to nothing to provide. However, nobody is forcing you to tether; it's an option. Furthermore, many of the people who have unofficial tethering enabled are using 30+ GB of data a month. That's over 1 GB of data per day! What the hell are you doing that you are using that much data? Furthermore, why do you think you are entitled to use that much data, slowing down the network for everyone else, completely free of charge?

      Make no mistake jailbreakers, you are violating both Apple's and AT&T's terms of service by using MyWi. AT&T is about to stop you from doing something that you shouldn't have been doing in the first place. Are their prices for tethering a bit exploitative? Yes. Does that entitle you to steal the service? No. And, frankly, I think AT&T is right to make those of you using obscene amounts of data every month to pay extra for that.

      I do wish AT&T would implement some sort of short-term "tethering as needed" plan. I suspect many people would like to be able to tether, but don't need the service more than once in a while. I would gladly pay for a day or week of tethering when I am on vacation for a lower cost than their current $20 tethering plan.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by Electricmage View Post
      Is it just me, or are people failing to realize that they are binded to the contract as well? Unless there is something in the fine print, which would allude to all of this, then changing your service without your consent is illegal in the eyes of a court of law. I'm going to re jailbreak my iphone, tether and then call a lawyer if I get this message. They have plenty of free consulting.
      And when they say that by jailbreaking your iphone you voided your contract. When they show you the text they sent you warning you to stop tethering or they would charge you for it, and your argument is what exactly? Read your contract, have fun paying that lawyer.
    1. FlyingJoey's Avatar
      FlyingJoey -
      If AT&T is changing people's Plans, that means that they're giving people a way out of their contracts... Plain and simple. The user agreement works both ways, although it usually works in their favor.

      I guess it's time to get a few letters ready for the DoJ, FCC, FTC, BBB and since I work for NBC let's put it on the news.
    1. fbiryujin's Avatar
      fbiryujin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Moosestache View Post
      It is too bad some of you all have ruined this for all of the rest of us.
      Agreed. My usually data is just over 1.5GB a month when I don't tether, and when I do it hits about 1.7 so I obviously am not the problem. Yes I am tethering when I am not supposed to, no I am not violating the contract by doing so. The AT&T contract prevents you from using your data connection in a way that is illegal, or can damage AT&T's network. Seeing as how tethering is an offered feature to pay for, it cannot be seen as damage to do it without paying for the feature. A court would most likely decide that data use is data use regardless of where it comes from. I do not get more bandwidth or more data just by using my laptop via tether. It is the same speed, and from a legal perspective the same as if I just watched a ton of Netflix on my phone itself. Where the data comes from is not the issue. The issue is they want more money. Can they justify charging me more, and limiting my data just because I use my contractually provided unlimited plan? No. They cannot. I may not be a lawyer (yet) but I know how a lot of things work, and I know that if I decline over the phone to move to a limited plan, and they do it anyway if my activity continues, then they are violating the contract. I will have a recorded call as evidence that I requested to remain on my unlimited plan. I am a technology engineer right now. I bet I know more about data usage than the rep I get on the phone when I call that 800 number. I bet I can convince him I did nothing wrong (which is the truth). Then when AT&T corporate, or technical service, or whoever determines to switch me anyway does, I have grounds to get out of the $300+ termination fee.

      Side note: That high a fee is ridiculous. With the amount of money I pay each month for unlimited minutes/texts/data vs how much I actually use. AT&T has by far made enough money to cover the subsidizing of my phone, plus a profit off of my bill. If I was a customer that cost them money, or even just broke even, then I'd be willing to pay the termination fee.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by Moosestache View Post
      Jeez, I'm sorry and it sucks that this is happening, but this is not like having a router in your home internet. At&t and verizon and every other provider has limited amounts of data they can transfer. In simple terms, when they get too much data either the speed of the connection slows or it fails.
      I am well aware of this, that their resources are a lot more finite than land based Internet connections. But from a technical standpoint, there is no difference between "tethering" and a typical NAT based router. That IS what tethering is doing. Especially wifi-based tethering. USB and BT usually just create a virtual network device on the computer you're "tethering" with, much like how something like OpenVPN or DSL/PPPoE/PPTP/L2TP/etc drivers do. It's still just routing non-local traffic from a given machine or device via a specific device that does routing/NAT.

      This is especially true if you still have an unlimited plan. It's the provider's own fault for suckering people in with the promise of unlimited usage when they knew full well their network wouldn't be able to handle the load of the demand of more and more people.