AT&T Cracks Down Tethering
AT&T is sending texts and emails to its smartphone customers who are using its mobile hotspot service without paying, sending them ominous messages telling them their free lunch is over. Messages has been sent to jailbreakers, or customers who hack their devices to work around application lockdowns by Texas based carrier, informing them that they are knowingly stealing free Wi-Fi service illegally, and they are coming to get them.
This move of At&T is significant. Customers have long suspected that carriers could tell who is cracking their devices and identify jailbreakers, but AT&T’s bold move is a positive proof. The carrier doesn’t say the way it knew which subscribers were tethering, but it would not be hard to spot heavy data usage from customers. Earlier this month, AT&T had started offering tethering for the iPhone 4, in a move to match Verizon. Other carriers will most likely follow AT&T’s crackdown, in an try to ease network congestion and deter free-loaders.
“Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan,” the company said in an electronic mail. “If they don’t listen to from you, we’ll plan to automatically enroll you in to DataPro 4GB after March 27, 2011.” What AT&T is saying is “sign up for our $540 a year tethering plan or we wil sign you up automatically.” Lots of users use their smartphones as a wireless modem for their laptops, tablets and other smartphones. The practice allows customers to effectively share 4G service on multiple devices. But it seems it is going to end unless they sign up for an additional tethering plan.