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Can’t We Enjoy Anything Without Paying For It ??

If you are like several clever iPhone users, you were probably tethering several devices through your iPhone. This allowed you to connect without paying for it. Well listen up because AT&T has said it had enough and now you need to pay up. That’s right you heard this correctly, no more tethering for you!!!

Tethering is also known as mobile hotspotting and the service provided by both AT&T and Verizon costs an additional $20 per month. The unauthorized access has been available on the iPhone for years, but now AT&T is cracking down on it and you could be next.

Customers are getting notified that their plans needs updating to include a tethering option if they are tethering devices illegally. This of course is big business for AT&T since it generates revenue from their data plans. The company expects smartphone users to pay if they want to connect mobile devices.

Users have three options:

  1. stop tethering for free
  2. activate a legitimate tethering plan and paying up
  3. keep tethering, and AT&T will automatically sign you up for a tethering plan and bill you

The free tethering was something that quite a few customers with the unlimited data plans considered or did. Now that AT&T charges for bandwidth usage, each device means more revenue for the company, so it was just a matter of time before they cracked down on it.

AT&T has already started sending TXT messages to customers who are tethering illegally. Here is a screenshot from one of their messages.

It is not clear how AT&T knows which users to send notices but the consensus is that the notices are sent to users with large amount of data usage (more than 10GB) who are not subscribed to a tethering plan.

The company will start auto-charging customers on March 27, so after it sends the TXT messages it sends an email – see below. After that email, users get enrolled in the tethering plan automagically.

At this point it’s not clear if Verizon will do the same but given that they too are charging for bandwidth usage, it’s likely that they will also take a similar approach.

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.



Photo Courtesy of Mintz242