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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. Sheltc's Avatar
      Sheltc -
      I pushed a little over 10gb last month. Just received the email and txt last week. Is there anybody that seriously has not tethered at all and still received the messages? I called them and and told them that I didn't know what tethering was and that all I did was stream video and download apps, some of which are 200-300mb each. It's not fair to limit our usage, especially since if we have grandfathered into the unlimited data packages, we have been loyal customers for years now. That is a+ customer service!
    1. Sheltc's Avatar
      Sheltc -
      Oh and I use mywi on 4.3 software.
    1. cldipad's Avatar
      cldipad -
      I got the email using 4.2. Now I'm using 4.3. There are a lot of different forums and many people are saying they got the email and don't tether or have their phone jailbroken. It seems as those using a lot of data and had recent spikes over the last few months are getting the email. I haven't seen anyone get the email that wasn't on an unlimited plan. Seems to me that people on the limited plan would get the email too it they were tethering.

      Regarding an earlier question... I purchased my 3GS through Apple and didn't renew my contract with ATT. They just transferred the service. Perhaps just transferring pts me under the new TOS but I didn't extend or sign any contract because I didn't get the phone at a discounted rate through ATT. If I am under the recent TOS that's a bunch of BS. I guess ATT reserves the right to change conditions when they want. Guess what ATT I reserve the right to not purchase the ability to tether through you. I found a competitor to do that. Is this any different than unlocking your iPhone and signing up for service with another carrier? I'm ATT doesn't like that either. I know they are PO'd that Verizon has a share of the iPhone market. I'm sure they'll have even more after this little stunt.
    1. Moosestache's Avatar
      Moosestache -
      Quote Originally Posted by cldipad View Post
      I got the email using 4.2. Now I'm using 4.3. There are a lot of different forums and many people are saying they got the email and don't tether or have their phone jailbroken. It seems as those using a lot of data and had recent spikes over the last few months are getting the email. I haven't seen anyone get the email that wasn't on an unlimited plan. Seems to me that people on the limited plan would get the email too it they were tethering.

      Regarding an earlier question... I purchased my 3GS through Apple and didn't renew my contract with ATT. They just transferred the service. Perhaps just transferring pts me under the new TOS but I didn't extend or sign any contract because I didn't get the phone at a discounted rate through ATT. If I am under the recent TOS that's a bunch of BS. I guess ATT reserves the right to change conditions when they want. Guess what ATT I reserve the right to not purchase the ability to tether through you. I found a competitor to do that. Is this any different than unlocking your iPhone and signing up for service with another carrier? I'm ATT doesn't like that either. I know they are PO'd that Verizon has a share of the iPhone market. I'm sure they'll have even more after this little stunt.
      If you paid full price what is it $600 or $700 for your iphone you probably aren't under any obligation to stay with at&t. If you paid less, you are under contract for 2 years.
    1. broncosi's Avatar
      broncosi -
      Quote Originally Posted by Sheltc View Post
      Is there anybody that seriously has not tethered at all and still received the messages?
      Depends how you define tethering. Obviously you define it as using MyWi, AT&T defines it as my dad streaming pandora over bluetooth to his car radio. He got the text.

      Quote Originally Posted by Sheltc View Post
      It's not fair to limit our usage, especially since if we have grandfathered into the unlimited data packages, we have been loyal customers for years now.
      It has nothing to do with data usage? Re-read through the thread. You can use all the data you want, hence unlimited data, you can not tether though without a tethering plan. It's unlimited not unrestricted.

      Quote Originally Posted by cldipad View Post
      I got the email using 4.2. Now I'm using 4.3. There are a lot of different forums and many people are saying they got the email and don't tether or have their phone jailbroken. It seems as those using a lot of data and had recent spikes over the last few months are getting the email.
      Again, they aren't sending these out for high data usage. They are sending them out for tethering. Streaming your pandora onto a car radio via bluetooth is tethering in AT&T's eyes. And you don't need to be JB to do that. They also told me, if you have ever, in your entire contract, gone to the settings and tried to turn on tethering, you would get the email/text/letter.
    1. michoolyoung's Avatar
      michoolyoung -
      Quote Originally Posted by broncosi View Post
      They are sending them out They also told me, if you have ever, in your entire contract, gone to the settings and tried to turn on tethering, you would get the email/text/letter.
      That's One of the reasons they gave me.
    1. cldipad's Avatar
      cldipad -
      ATT doesn't know you are tethering unless they are inspecting packets or headers or looking at the browser that is sending data. Tethering your iPhone to your car stereo or using the Apple connection kit to show Netflix on a larger TV is not detectable by ATT. The phone still sends and receives the data and the device you are connecting to does not send information to the phone. Most TV and car stereos don't access the phones network. ATT is talking about tetherIng your phone to a computer or another device capable of using the iPhones data plan. The problem is ATT is telling people that streaming and connecting to your radio or TV is tethering when it is not. There is enough information out there about what ATT is doing that it's pretty clear they have no idea what anyone is doing. They are looking at high data usage and spikes. Has anyone on a limited plan received the text? Haven't heard of any. Also, when you try to activate the tethering on your phone you get a message asking to call ATT or go online. Tetherme/Mywi activates the feature for you without ATT involvement. Why ATT would say that trying to turn on tethering would generate an email like the one everyone is receiving is beyond me. ATT needs to get their s**t straight before they start sending out emails and having reps tell you things that just aren't true.
    1. JohnGaltJr's Avatar
      JohnGaltJr -
      I heard a story about Bergdorf Goodman- the famous department store. A customer had bought a $50,000 fur coat and they couldn't find the billing. So they just sent 5 bills out to the people that had bought similar, expensive furs from them in the past. 4 people just paid the bill- no questions asked. Perhaps apocryphal, but appropriate.

      THIS is what AT&T is doing. They're fishing.

      They think we're stupid. They think we are intimidated. They think we believe them when they tell us that streaming or using bluetooth headsets or connecting to our car audio inputs is tethering.

      Puhleeze!
    1. ducadae's Avatar
      ducadae -
      Fishing? Maybe. Are you willing to be the sacrificial lamb to prove it? Right now your unlimited is $30 and the datapro is $45. Essentially you're saving $15 a month if you cease tethering. If AT&T is truly going after illegal tethering use your phone legitimately. The main reason people tether is for file downloading and Netflix. Their are apps ( free or cheap) that allow you to use your phone. I download files and transfer them later. Just yesterday I used 1 gb downloading files. No tethering. If AT&T wants me to be legit, fine. If they continue to harass customers who aren't tethering, they're begging for some sort of lawsuit.
    1. afex505's Avatar
      afex505 -
      Chalk me up as another who just got the warning. (created this account just to post!)

      iPhone4 / 4.1 / Tetherme
      i have ONLY done wired tether, never installed mywi or any of that other stuff. I probably do a good 5-10GB of data altogether each month, but i'd say only 10-20% is from tether - its only for surfing and NEVER for files. I do use my phone for pandora basically 8hrs/day all month...

      When I called in, i of course played dumb, and then rep said 'if i'm not tethering then i have nothing to worry about, but if I am and do not stop then i will be charged'. (take that as you will...) I DID mention that i use 'tons of pandora and netflix streaming' and she said that wouldn't matter - take that as you will.

      honestly, $45 and the loss of unlimited is not THAT much of a hit so i'm gonna go ahead and see what happens : ) if it gets sticky i'd love to have them prove to me that i'm 'tethering' - uncovering the fact that they're doing deep packet inspection is ABSOLUTELY worth losing my service over for the greater good of the community.

      good luck all!
    1. cldipad's Avatar
      cldipad -
      I guess you're the sacrificial lamb. I'm going to do the same thing. I check email and visit sites while tethering my ipad. Nothing more and nothing i wouldn't regularly do on my iphone. My guess is they aren't looking at packets since that is an invasion of privacy and ATT wouldn't risk the negative press or liability for that. One person on this post said the rep was telling them what sites they were visiting on their computer while tethered. Google? Yeah, who doesn't. You'll have to do better than that ATT.
    1. carbona's Avatar
      carbona -
      Quote Originally Posted by MMIer View Post
      I have been tethering with MyWi on a limited basis.
      Use less than 2GB per month and on iOS 4.1 I have not received any notice.

      I wonder if people that are getting the texts can provide more info such as

      1. if they use more than 5GB,
      2. which iOS version,
      3. MyWi, TetherMe or PDAnet.
      4. Also, if they changed their APN settings.

      Hoping we can narrow down what triggers the alerts at AT&T.
      I received the text, email and letter last week while on 4.2.1 jailbreak. I just upgraded to 4.3 yesterday. My usage varies a lot but on average is around 3.5.



      I don't know what my data usage was earlier last year and prior but shouldn't be much different. I do stream music a lot through various apps and have used netflix occasionally on the phone, no hookup to tv. I have not changed my APN settings.

      I have not called ATT.

      A friend of mine uses MyWi a lot and he has used up to 80 gigs one time when he was using it to download torrents. He has yet to receive any warning. Not to say he won't. I do not know what his normal usage is.
    1. ducadae's Avatar
      ducadae -
      I'm on 4.2. When I had Internet at home, I never used 1 gb in a month. But I've moved to a rural area of VA where I amazingly have 3G but shoddy Internet. Rather than pay for substandard Internet, I use my phone all the time. In Feb I used 37 gb. Then it dropped to 6 in March (pre AT&T contact). Now I'm at 12 for April. And 2 so far for this billing cycle. Netflix murders data. I watched 30 Rock, 24, and a lot of random movies in Feb. My usage would be way lower if I was around wifi even a little.
    1. ducadae's Avatar
      ducadae -
      @afex505 losing unlimited is a big deal. For unlimited users who use 4 gb on average, they pay an extra $15 a month (as grandfathered unlimited data is $30). If you use over 4 gb (say 6 gb or 7 gb) we're talking an extra $10 for each gb. Hardly seems fair. Charge people for tethering and let them keep the plan. I'd rather pay $60-75 for unlimited data + tethering than $45 for 4 gb subject to overages. Or move the data cap to something reasonable.

      AT&T's issue is that people are tethering without paying and claiming it affects their service quality. I wonder if the number of people with capped data plans that use 5-10 gb equal to the number of unlimited people who use 5-10 gb.
    1. Nefarious's Avatar
      Nefarious -
      PDAnet just released an update with a hide tethering option. I'm wondering if it will curtail some of these notifications.
    1. cldipad's Avatar
      cldipad -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nefarious View Post
      PDAnet just released an update with a hide tethering option. I'm wondering if it will curtail some of these notifications.
      Does anyone know what Level to select? You have the option of Level I or Level II when hiding tethering on PDANet. There is very little online about the new release.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by ducadae View Post
      If AT&T is truly going after illegal tethering
      I usually don't nit-pick little things like this, but I really think something needs to be said here. Please stop using the term "illegal" if don't know know what it means. Quite simply, there is nothing illegal about using "tethering" without a plan. At the most it's a violation of a contract, or TOS, which in and of itself is NOT a violation of the law, but rather it's the actual act that would be messured.

      So unless one can quote an actual law that expressly forbids "tethering" as we know it, referring to doing so without a plan as "illegal" will only show that you don't have the tiniest modicum of knowledge about the legal system, and thus don't have a clue about what the hell they are talking.
    1. ducadae's Avatar
      ducadae -
      Quote Originally Posted by szr View Post
      I usually don't nit-pick little things like this, but I really think something needs to be said here. Please stop using the term "illegal" if don't know know what it means. Quite simply, there is nothing illegal about using "tethering" without a plan. At the most it's a violation of a contract, or TOS, which in and of itself is NOT a violation of the law, but rather it's the actual act that would be messured.

      So unless one can quote an actual law that expressly forbids "tethering" as we know it, referring to doing so without a plan as "illegal" will only show that you don't have the tiniest modicum of knowledge about the legal system, and thus don't have a clue about what the hell they are talking.
      I don't hate to nitpick. Contrary to your belief, illegal has little to do with law and more to do with honoring the contract you signed. If you do anything that voids the contract (something illegal) there is either a penalty and/or the contract is void. Of course no one caught tethering will go to jail. Only a fool would think otherwise. However according to at&t's contract, tethering is using your phone to provide Internet for a laptop (check the website). Anybody doing so through anyone/anything other than AT&T is in clear violation of their contract. Whether AT&T can prove it is one thing. The legality of doing so is not debatable.

      According to AT&T's CSR's, tethering is using apps like Netflix, pandora, as well as the usual definition of tethering. This is categorically wrong. Lastly, learn the definition of illegal before attempting to dress someone down via Internet. For God's sake, you have google, use it.
    1. szr's Avatar
      szr -
      Quote Originally Posted by ducadae View Post
      I don't hate to nitpick. Contrary to your belief, illegal has little to do with law and more to do with honoring the contract you signed. If you do anything that voids the contract (something illegal) there is either a penalty and/or the contract is void.
      It doesn't have to be something illegal in order to be in breach of a contract. A contract, in and of itself, has no baring on what is and what isn't illegal.

      According to AT&T's CSR's, tethering is using apps like Netflix, pandora, as well as the usual definition of tethering. This is categorically wrong.
      I never disputed the fact that AT&T's so-called definition of "tethering", as you mentioned above, is absolutely absurd. I agree with this 100%.

      Lastly, learn the definition of illegal
      Firstly, In terms of the law, it doesn't get any more basic this this:

      dictionary.reference.com/browse/illegal
      Code:
      1. forbidden by law or statute.
      
      2. contrary to or forbidden by official rules, regulations, etc.:
      The referee ruled that it was an illegal forward pass.
      Secondly, I just wanted to convey a logical separation of concepts that some people obviously have trouble understanding, that a breach of contract does not make that act a violation of law.
    1. TEvil's Avatar
      TEvil -
      Well legal not legal all depends on who has the money friends and time to prove it
      Me myself i simply use mywi for 3 things
      Play xm through my laptop when i work on my house since i dont have internet there yet ( we havent moved in)
      Remote in at my real house while at work so im not on their network
      Most of all to give my girl usable data on my jb and data locked iphone i let her use which os also my iphone in principal
      I never go above 2gigs a month and dont have any vid streaming apps

      My new experiment is now tethering on the old edge network to see if i fly under any radar
      Cant say im hogging everyones data if im using the old network no one else does; which i might add is pretty fast since me and like 2 people in somalia are prob the only ones on it

      We will see and ill let u all know if this works

      On a side note me and another guy here are going to make a little site with a petition, on what were not sure yet, so if any one else also has some web experiance and wants in please PM me
      I think this site should also address some other key greed gouging efforts cell providers use such as forcing data plabs on all smart phones when u CLEARLY dont need them, hence my girl
      We as consumers, users and intellecuals need to start using our common sense and saying your taking advantage of us and we know its not for the better interest of users its for your own pockets!

      Thanks all
      Remember starting an initiative isnt so much a cure but more to let the population know of the disease