AT&T cracks down on unauthorized smartphone tethering

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) has started telling customers who are tethering their smartphones to a laptop for use as a wireless modem but do not have a tethering plans to either stop tethering or get an official AT&T tethering plan.

The carrier, which has supported tethering since last summer, is evidently cracking down on customers who have "jailbroken" their devices and are using applications such as MyWi to tether their phones. Jailbroken Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhones, for instance, can run applications that are not authorized through Apple's App Store approval process.

AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom confirmed to Phone Scoop that the company has been notifying customers about their unauthorized tethering. "We've just begun 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," he said. "Our goal here is fairness for all of our customers."

AT&T offers a tethering plan for $20, which comes on top of AT&T's DataPro plan, and provides a total of 4 GB of data for smartphone and tethering use. It appears AT&T customers who have been tethering without the tethering plan will have three basic options: They can stop tethering and hold onto their current plan (including unlimited data if they have not signed a new contract or upgraded since June when AT&T's tiered data plans went into effect); they can contact AT&T and proactively move onto the tethering plan; or, if they do nothing, they will be automatically moved onto the tethering plan by AT&T.

All of the Tier 1 carriers offer some sort of tethering option as a $15-$20 data add-on, though the plans are somewhat different for each carrier. T-Mobile USA became the last national carrier to offer tethering when it launched a plan in November.

For more:
- see this Phone Scoop article
- see this Cult of Mac post
- see this TipB post

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