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ZDNet: Unofficial Tethering Is Stealing
But Carriers Crippling Phones For an Added Buck Are Ok...
by Karl Bode 11:03AM Tuesday Apr 05 2011
Most consumers aren't particularly thrilled with the idea that their phone carrier charges them an extra fee to enable tethering functionality already built into their smartphones by default. As a result many users jailbreak their phones, a practice that's been declared perfectly legal. It's something AT&T's been trying to crack down on by sending warning letters to unsanctioned tethered users -- insisting they'll be upgraded to a more expensive data plan if they don't stop. ZDNet's James Kendrick offers up a spirited bit of troll bait, arguing that anybody who unofficially tethers is a thief:
Sorry, but if your carrier asks you to pay for the right to tether (called mobile hotspot), and you manage to do so without enrolling in (and paying for) this plan, then you are stealing service from your carrier. I don’t like it any more than you, but that’s the way it is and at some point the carriers are going to crack down on those doing it.
Even other ZDNet columnists appear not to agree. Granted, many consumers see the carriers as the thieves -- crippling devices and erecting new barriers in order to add additional fees to already very expensive mobile data plans. It's not like these users are running away with the store; a new AT&T mobile smartphone user who doesn't sign up for a mobile hotspot faces a maximum 2 GB cap, after which he pays a stunning $10 per gigabyte.

What constitutes thievery seems to fluctuate quickly; it was only a few years ago that Verizon Wireless insisted that anyone who used a mobile hotspot to share a 3G connection over Wi-Fi was getting wireless data service for free.

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reply to RHMA

Re: Idiot


I "purchase" and own a car that has Bluetooth feature on the steering wheel (for hands-free talking while driving). I find the computer in the truck has a switch (DIP) that when set, enables the BT feature of the wheel.
The dealer wants $750 to do the same thing.
I save $750 to activate a feature I own.
Is this theft?

Theft is stealing bandwidth that I don't pay for.

Unlimited Limited is theft. Charging .10$ for a text message is theft.
Not offering rollover minutes is theft.

Camelot One
Greenwood, IN

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2 recommendations

I see both sides of this

When it's an "unlimited" data plan for a particular device, I see the carrier's point. Verizon for example has the unlimited - this-device - data plan, and charges extra to use data on other devices.

But in the case of capped plans, (AT&T) where a person is paying for a fixed amount of bandwidth, it is just stupid. Let them use that fixed amount however they want. Hell, encourage them to use it however and as much as they want, since you are going to charge them for overages anyway.

And I say all that, being one who "steals" the unlimited data of my verizon phone with PDANet from time to time