Tethering on AT&T is expressly prohibited, is enforcement next?


Att_tethering_rulesWe hit up the local AT&T store last night to change my iPhone plan to a family plan (more on that later) and I looked into adding a USB HSDPA modem to my mobile arsenal. I didn’t pull the trigger just yet, but I did grab the latest data plan flyer that contains the plan info, terms and conditions, etc… Since I’m a new AT&T customer, I don’t know if the older flyers contained the same info, but this one is dated June of 2007. There’s a specific footnote on every single data plan except for the DataConnect (which is the aircard type of plan) and the monthly 20 MB PDA Personal Plan: it states "Tethering is prohibited on these plans." It wasn’t that long ago when most folks didn’t know the term "tethering" and this is the first time I’ve seen it mentioned in writing from a carrier.

Again, this info may have always been there (it’s been a while since I looked at data plans), but you can bet if this is documented here and in the plan TOS, there’s a good chance the free-piggyback that tethering provides is on the way out, confirming what we heard earlier. I didn’t specifically ask my sales rep about this even though he seemed generally knowledgeable; I’ll certain do so if I pull the trigger on the 3G USB modem. He only had one in stock last night and boy was it tempting…



I have a question. I now have verizon (which I hate) I want to switch to ATT because of their rollover plans. I don’t text, don’t take photos, don’t do ring tones, don’t walk the dog using the phone. I just want to make phone calls and tether. Currently I hook my phone up to my laptop and call MY server who gives me 20 hours of dial up with my DSL plan. Yes its painfully slow and eats my time, but it works. If I wait until 9 PM is free. Can I do this with AT&T???


I wonder if we might have basis for a complaint to the FCC. I don’t know much about these things but I agree that if we pay more to tether($30.00 per month more at AT&T, if I’m not mistaken), we should get more. Unlimited at $30.00 per month through the BlackBerry untethered vs unlimited at $60.00 per month tethered is the same as stealing $30.00 per month as far as I’m concerned. Yea, I know, nobody’s forcing me to pay it; but still, I couldn’t steal money faster with a gun! I’d definitely go for $10.00 more to tether but that’s about it.


I absolutely despise cell phone companies. This info has been around for as long as I’ve been a Cingular (AT&T) customer, and its insane. They want you to get an unlimited data plan, then pay even more just so you can make some sort of connection to your computer. Why is this crazy/stupid? Because now you are paying more money to be able to use features of products the company doesn’t own, and you aren’t gaining any product from them. Think about it, you pay extra just for the ability to be able to ‘tether’ a phone to a computer, you don’t get any more data, you can’t access the data faster, what are you really buying? Nothing is what I say, if these plans are all so ‘unlimited’ why does using the data on your computer rather then on your cell phone make any difference? I’ve had this conversation a few times before, and I like to use the analogy that you have a tiny 12″ TV with a built in VHS deck, your cell phone is the tiny 12″ TV, while your computer is a 32″ TV, the cell companies are making you pay to connect the TV with built in VHS deck to your bigger TV. You aren’t getting any different video, you aren’t getting increased quality, but they are making you pay.

James Kendrick

Once a carrier starts charging for tethering you can bet they will block it for those not paying for it. While we as consumers believe that unlimited data should allow tethering it’s up to the carriers to determine if that’s the case or not. AT&T is charging the same $15/month that Verizon currently charges and Verizon does block it if you don’t pay for it. I suspect AT&T will too. I didn’t opt for the tethering option with AT&T because I don’t anticipate needing that option.

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