Social Question

hedgepig's avatar

Can AT&T prove that I am tethering?

Asked by hedgepig (21points) April 6th, 2011

So I got an email that basically said “we know you’re tethering, if you don’t stop then we will charge you $40.00 for a tethering plan.” Of course I’m using a jailbreak app, and I’m paying for the unlimited data plan. I assume that they are making this accusation on my immense data usage alone. I def want to continue using my tether without paying for some stupid plan.

I would either like to :
A) get them to admit that they can’t prove I’m tethering.
B) get them to back down by making them pretty much admit that they are somewhat spying on me.

Any advice?

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33 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

Higher usage? Questionable usage? I think you received a warning, because they know you are doing it. Now, you need to decide how to proceed. Either pay or quit tethering.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes they can detect what device your using you to browse the net on. All browsers, email clients and devices identify themeslves to the servers your ISP use to provide the service. Its just how the internet works They are not spying on you, they are monitoring your usage so they can bill you acordingly, just like they monitor what numbers you call and for how long. As for the tethering thing maybe it is unfair that they charge you more for using data that way but thats what you agreed to when you signed the contract. You don’t like it change providers to one whos terms you agree with.

marinelife's avatar

Since you are doing what they accuse you of and they know it, you are likely to get into trouble if you continue,

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@hedgepig Welcome to Fluther,

ATT will charge you pay the $20 per month if you continue. That is what the letter says, continue to tether and =====>>if tethering does not stop—AT&T will automatically upgrade the customer to its tethering plan, which adds $20 each month on top of their data charges.

gorillapaws's avatar

If you are on an “Unlimited Data Plan” then you should write them a check for an “unlimited amount***” to cover the additional cost.

***where “unlimited” is subject to your own terms that may not require actual reimbursement.

jerv's avatar

As @Lightlyseared says, they can read phone status and get the IDs of whatever browsers you use. And if really isn’t fair of you to tether without paying for a tethering plan.

The way I see it, the fact that they are merely going to charge you for a couple of months of that premium service (the month you’ve used and the month you probably will use) instead of pressing criminal charges should be considered generous.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@gorillapaws Apparently you haven’t dealt with the “Wrecker of Credit” before. The phone company will not just shut off your phone.

Yes they can wreck your credit.

And when you signed the contract at the store you agreed to lotsa stuff.

jerv's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I thought they only wrecked your credit if you were the type of person who would normally wreck it yourself in a “slow, lingering death” manner anyways, so maybe the fact that they can (and do) hit you that hard is a merciful thing in the long run.

sinscriven's avatar

To elaborate on what @Tropical_Willie mentioned about the automatic adding of the tethering feature if you keep on cheating your data plan: The Tethering plan has a cap that is completely seperate from your data plan; so even if you were Grandfathered into the unlimited data plan, you still have a 2GB cap on tethered data.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know what a “Jailbreak app” is, but it sounds like you’re doing something WRONG. So stop. Just because you can get away with it doesn’t make it OK.

TheBox193's avatar

How much data did you use in one month? Was it a sudden spike change since last month?

I currently might be averaging 6 to 10.6GB per month on my phone.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Tropical_Willie I was simply referring to how messed up it is that AT&T can offer an ”UNLIMITED plan” and then subsequently put all kinds of LIMITS on how you use it. If only consumers were allowed such liberties with language.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@gorillapaws They specify what is what. It is not a surprise, the contract spells it out.

The “unlmited plan” is for data not the tether of the phone to a laptops or Wi-Fi tablets, up to FIVE.

Phone = data——laptop or tablet = tethering.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Tropical_Willie but that’s a limit, that I can’t use my data for whatever the hell I want. It’s just bits traveling through the air, who gives a shit if my laptop generated those or my phone did. I just think it’s fucked up that they are legally allowed to call something unlimited, and then turn around and put limits on it. They should have to call it the “less restricted than some of our other plans, plan”: it’s more honest an yet less catchy.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@gorillapaws Read the contract “THEY” differentiate between data and tether, THERE is a difference. You are using the phone on tether as a router or modem, your phone by itself has a lower limit of data. Cable TV and Cable modem ( internet ) two different technologies, two different charges.

I hear you but the phone company had you sign a contract with terms and conditions. You have to understand the terms and follow the conditions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

‘Splain ‘tether’ to me

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Tether allow the phone to act as a mobile modem. For a laptop or othe rWi-Fi computer.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Tropical_Willie (haven’t looked at @SpatzieLover;s link yet) it cheating?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Aright…read @SpatzieLover‘s link…how do you do it?

Dutchess_III's avatar is gettin better and better, isn’t it!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@SpatzieLover ‘s link covers it. It is not cheating but uses phone for modem for use by other laptops, you need a phone that has tethering capability, iPhone and most of the newer android phones hve it then connect with Wi-Fi toa laptop.
My android has tethering, but I don’t use it cost $20 per month.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Tropical_Willie It’s not cheating if your contract allows it, or you are paying for it. In the case of the OP, it’s cheating. He knows it. Now he needs to decide, pay or quit.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sounds handy to have in case of emergency….

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Right, the reason I don’t use it on my tethering phone. They will charge you, just like if you have 900 minute plan and go over the 900.

It’s on the next bill.

Dutchess_III's avatar

K. So what if you’re willing to accept the charge because you’re in a World of Deep Sheet. HOW would you ‘tether’?

Yes, OP. Quit. It’s wrong.

downtide's avatar

Check the terms and conditions of your contract. You’ll probably find a clause in there to say that yes they CAN “spy” on you and by accepting the contract at all you accepted being spied-on.

You’re pretty much committing fraud here. You will have to do as they say or pay the extra.

Buttonstc's avatar


I can’t provide all the techy details but I can give you a brief answer to your Q of “How?”

I can only speak for what I’ve researched about iPhone 3G so it may be different for other phones.

You would need to download an App specifically designed to facilitate the tethering process. AFIK the official iTunes Appstore has not authorized any tethering apps.

Therefore you would need to use Cydia or something similar to access unofficial apps which would facilitate tethering.

In order to use Cydia, you need to Jailbreak your iPhone. Contrary to what some people have stated, jailbreaking is NOT ILLEGAL.

It’s merely unapproved by Apple and will void your iPhone warranty if they can prove it. But that is a far cry from illegal. Just because Apple frowns upon it doesn’t mean anything, legally speaking. There have been court cases where Apple has tried to get them to declare it illegal but they have been unsuccessful.

Your phone is your property and you can do what you want with your own property.

My iPhone is past two years and no longer has a warranty to void so I’ve been seriously looking into jailbreaking.

Anyhow, the basic how-to for tethering breaks down to:
1) jailbreak phone
2) search for a tethering app and download it.
3) follow the app’s directions for how to set up the tether.

What you’ll basically be doing is turning your phone into a wireless modem/router enabling you to connect your computer to the Internet. Your phone is basically taking the place of a router/modem to carry the wireless signal.

If you think about it, even if you go to Starbucks or similar which offers free Wifi, if they did not have a router broadcasting the signal, your computer couldn’t access it. So that’s what your phone will be doing via the tethering app.

Does that cover it for you on the how part?

Instructions for jailbreaking are all over the Internet and it’s a pretty simple procedure.

hedgepig's avatar

After a night of research, I feel that this is AT&Ts attempt to end the unlimited data contracts that are floating around out there. I would be willing to pay them more money for unlimited tethering, but NOT more money for less data(4GB) and tethering! I’m going to see if they change my contract. If they do then I will be able to end that contract with no term fees.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Buttonstc Thanks….yes, it does, but not that I’ll ever need it!

I just have this feeling that…well, just because it’s not “illegal” doesn’t mean it’s OK to do….it’s not “illegal” to tell your kid they’re an idiot, to raise them calling them an idiot from the day they’re born. Doesn’t mean it’s OK to do.

downtide's avatar

“illegal” is not the same thing as “against the terms and Conditions of your contract”. You can’t be arrested for it but AT&T can certainly demand more money from you, or shut off your connection completely.

Buttonstc's avatar

Just to briefly clarify, I was strictly referencing the fact that JAILBREAKING is NOT illegal because someone wanted more info on HOW to tether and as part of their comments they seemed to be under the impression that jailbreaking itself was most likely illegal.

I did not address at all about the legal status of tethering since I really don’t know.

There are many other perfectly valid and legal reasons to jailbreak one’s own iPhone which have nothing at all to do with tethering. Neither Apple nor ATT has any right to decree what someone can do with their own personal property for which they have paid (the phone itself).

The data plan is a totally separate issue.

I’m currently paying the extra $30 per month for the data plan even tho it is EXTREMELY RARE that I ever use it. When I’m at home I’m using the wifi which comes with the Internet access NOT the 3G access provided by the data plan.

Even when I’m traveling, there are plenty of places which have free wifi (McDonalds, Starbucks, libraries, etc.) so I could get along without it entirely.

But ATT requires it if one has an iPhone. Even tho someone is willing to do without it, that is not an option. They certainly aren’t lacking for opportunities to gouge us for the max.

Both our TV and Internet is also with ATT so I’m basically paying twice for Internet access. Once at home and again when I’m in the car (even tho I can get along without it just fine.) I’m not referring to phone service, which is it’s own separate charge.

Exact same company. Do we get a break on the rates on either end or some type of bundle like Comcast or others offer including phone and internet etc Nope.

If there were any point to tethering and I could get away with it, I’d do it in a nanosecond. I can’t imagine ATT going broke over it anytime soon. They have us over a barrel and they know it.

So is there really any reason why I should have any sympathy for a megacompany squeezing us for everything they can?

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