Back in March AT&T made it clear they planned to wage a quiet war on users who jailbreak their phones and tether unofficially, e-mailing users whose usage seemed heavy
that they would soon be auto-enrolled in more expensive plans. Today the company confirmed to the Boy Genius Report
that they'll be revoking the grandfathered unlimited plans of users who who tether or use unsanctioned mobile hotspot apps. AT&T's statement on the matter insists that they're doing this out of a concern about "fairness for all of our customers." The AT&T statement:
Earlier this year, we began sending letters, emails, and text messages to a small number of smartphone customers who use their devices for tethering but aren’t on our required tethering plan. Our goal here is fairness for all of our customers. (This impacts a only small percentage of our smartphone customer base.)
The letters outline three choices:
•Stop tethering and keep their current plan (including grandfathered unlimited plan)
•Proactively call AT&T or visit our stores and move to the required tethering plan
•Do nothing and we’ll go ahead and add the tethering plan on their behalf — after the dated noted in their customer notification.
A little more than a year ago AT&T killed the unlimited plan
, but grandfathered users already on it. However, if users want to tether officially, they have to give up unlimited, sign up for a 2GB monthly plan for $25 per month, and pay an additional $20 tethering fee with overages of up to $10 per gigabyte. In February, AT&T also finally allowed users to use embedded hotspot functionality, also for a $20 fee with $10 per gigabyte overages. Not surprisingly, many users jailbroke their phones and used apps like MyWi
to avoid these new expensive and dubious fees and penalties -- something AT&T's now trying to stop in the name of "fairness."
Granted to see AT&T's version of "fairness" here you have to ignore the fact that AT&T is charging you a $20 premium simply to use functionality embedded in smartphones by design, pretend that being charged $10 per gigabyte is a great value, ignore the fact that jailbreaking your phone is perfectly legal, ignore the fact that AT&T has imposed some of the lowest caps in the industry, and ignore the fact that AT&T and Verizon have quietly been trying to get any and all tethering applications blocked despite professing to love device and network "openness."
You'll notice that pretty much everything AT&T does these days -- no matter how absurd the restriction or steep the rate hike -- only impacts a "small portion" of their customers and is solely focused on altruism -- not making money. AT&T might have better luck on the public image front if the company didn't assume their customers were the intellectual equivalent of walnuts.