Verizon moves to kill illegal tethering on hacked phones

August 9, 2011
20

Verizon is following in the footsteps of AT&T and has announced that tethering on hacked smartphones will not be tolerated anymore. Verizon is out to stop the people that are tethering their smartphones using unofficial apps like MyWi from consuming more data than Verizon thinks is fair. The carrier wants the illegal tethering users to fork over more loot for official tethering support.

The good news if you are one of the Verizon users enjoying unofficial tethering is that Verizon is much cheaper than AT&T. Whereas AT&T is forcing users that illegally tethered to pay $45 monthly Verizon users can get official tethering for $20 monthly. When the user tries to use the unofficial tethering app on their smartphone, they will be redirected to another webpage.

The page the users will land on is a Verizon site that offers the $20 tethering plan. I don't think this is any surprise, once one major wireless carrier tries something others generally follow. What do you think, will this make you pay for tethering or will you just continue to use unofficial apps?

[via Forbes]


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  • Josh Martin

    Sorry, no, I don’t think I’ll pay.  I don’t have a need for it except in rare occasions. Wish there was a clause that you could use up to 500MB of tethering before having to pay for the unlimited tethering.  Having Unlimited data means Unlimited. I get to use it how I want….. but apparently big giants like these don’t care. They are god.

    • http://twitter.com/redneck_trash redneck_trash

       Read your Terms & Conditions. Your  phone’s data plan is for, surprisingly, your  phone’s data. Not your laptop, game console, ect.

      • http://twitter.com/jakcrow Jak Crow

        Damn shame. I’ll use my phone any way I please, which includes running it as a wifi gateway for my laptop.

      • Weso18

        But, if I hookup / tether my tablet or laptop etc. to my smart phone I’m still using my phones data which is what I’m paying for. Do you guys think there should be a difference between tethering with another android device such as my tablet vs. a laptop? I bring this up as I’ve seen others mention that if on a laptop you would use much more data then if you were on a mobile device. I can kinda understand from the carriers point of view on that with an unlimited data plan but what if your only tethering to another mobile device and its setup so that only one mobile device can be used at a time while tethering so companies like has can’t use the argument that your double dipping? Also….the people that don’t have unlimited data plan that actually pay for per GB usage….those are the people that for the life of me I can’t understand why it would matter what they tether too. If you pay for 2gb of data or 10laptop GB of data then who cares how you use it…the customer is paying for it…OK OK I can here some of you arguing right now “well we pay for unlimited so what’s the difference” the difference being that your not paying for a pre determined amount of data. Your paying to use unlimited on your phone…when you pay for unlimited the phone company isn’t allowing you and four of your friends to come over and use the data all at the same time. Maybe a fair way would be to give unlimited data customers free tethering, but with a small cap of usage and give free tethering to those that pay for the individual data they use with no cap at all. If you pay for 2gb and you choose to use it up in one night on your PC then that would be on you.

  • Distortedloop

    Curious to learn how they know you’re tethering.  If your tethering app uses the same APNs as the rest of the phone’s data streams, how can they tell you’re sharing that data with a tethered device?  I tether my unlimited iPhone data plan Android phone (SGSII) on AT&T occasionally and have never gotten the dreaded “stop tethering or we’ll charge you” message from them.  

  • Anonymous

    Your article is misleading.  AT&T isn’t forcing people to pay $45 for tethering.  They are forcing people to the $45 plan that includes data PLUS tethering.  This adds the same $20/mo for tethering that VZW is charging ($15 if you get forced off the grandfathered unlimited plans)

    • http://www.engadget.com Brad Molen

      Agreed. You make it sound like AT&T’s charging $45 ON TOP OF the regular internet, which is untrue. AT&T is charging $45 total for 4GB data which includes tethering and phone use. Verizon’s and AT&T’s plans are much more comparable than you indicate.

  • Offl74

    Verizon isa scam. And the problem is verizon customers, because verizon shouldn’t have any customers paying the enormous fees for their ripoff products.

  • Anonymous

    In related news, cable companies are asking you to pay extra if you want to allow friends to come into your home and watch your television with you. When you subscribe to cable, you are only paying for yourself, not your friends. They cost extra.

  • Kevin Merkel

    Tethering isn’t illegal , it is baked into the Android opperating system, and apple IOS4 has that ability to do it as well. Data caps and throttleing the speeds on the network should be illegal. Also I still don’t understand why people don’t use the Sprint network, with unlimited roaming and data, we’re using the same towers as everyone else and not being gouged for it. Also they dont mind if you tether, they suggest you use there tethering at a cost per month but it isnt manditory . 

    • Distortedloop

      We don’t use Sprint because the service is slow and terrible, especially 3G data.  It’s easy to offer up unlimited data/tethering when your 3G network only delivers EDGE-like speeds in major markets…

      I’m in Los Angeles and Sprint (EVO4G) WiMax didn’t hit the areas outside of downtown, and 3G in the ‘burbs was lucky to pull 0.5M/bs in locations where my TMobile and AT&T phones were pulling 1.8 -2.5Mb/s on 3G.

      Re: illegal…I wonder if the TelCos are brave enough to actually test whether it’s illegal or not by trying to get the government to prosecute someone for theft of service.  In the early days of cable television, before encrypted signals, when I lived in Texas, it was illegal to monkey with the cable lines to get a level of service you didn’t pay for (ie., remove the inline filter to get HBO for free).  You could argue that using software to tether without paying for it is theft of service (a premium level of service you didn’t pay for).  I’d love to see that battle unfold, the defense arguing the oft-cried “I pay for unlimited data, it’s none of their business how I use it” argument.  I’m not sure which way that case would go in the end.

    • Distortedloop

      We don’t use Sprint because the service is slow and terrible, especially 3G data.  It’s easy to offer up unlimited data/tethering when your 3G network only delivers EDGE-like speeds in major markets…

      I’m in Los Angeles and Sprint (EVO4G) WiMax didn’t hit the areas outside of downtown, and 3G in the ‘burbs was lucky to pull 0.5M/bs in locations where my TMobile and AT&T phones were pulling 1.8 -2.5Mb/s on 3G.

      Re: illegal…I wonder if the TelCos are brave enough to actually test whether it’s illegal or not by trying to get the government to prosecute someone for theft of service.  In the early days of cable television, before encrypted signals, when I lived in Texas, it was illegal to monkey with the cable lines to get a level of service you didn’t pay for (ie., remove the inline filter to get HBO for free).  You could argue that using software to tether without paying for it is theft of service (a premium level of service you didn’t pay for).  I’d love to see that battle unfold, the defense arguing the oft-cried “I pay for unlimited data, it’s none of their business how I use it” argument.  I’m not sure which way that case would go in the end.

    • Distortedloop

      We don’t use Sprint because the service is slow and terrible, especially 3G data.  It’s easy to offer up unlimited data/tethering when your 3G network only delivers EDGE-like speeds in major markets…

      I’m in Los Angeles and Sprint (EVO4G) WiMax didn’t hit the areas outside of downtown, and 3G in the ‘burbs was lucky to pull 0.5M/bs in locations where my TMobile and AT&T phones were pulling 1.8 -2.5Mb/s on 3G.

      Re: illegal…I wonder if the TelCos are brave enough to actually test whether it’s illegal or not by trying to get the government to prosecute someone for theft of service.  In the early days of cable television, before encrypted signals, when I lived in Texas, it was illegal to monkey with the cable lines to get a level of service you didn’t pay for (ie., remove the inline filter to get HBO for free).  You could argue that using software to tether without paying for it is theft of service (a premium level of service you didn’t pay for).  I’d love to see that battle unfold, the defense arguing the oft-cried “I pay for unlimited data, it’s none of their business how I use it” argument.  I’m not sure which way that case would go in the end.

  • Prostateofgrace

    The author needs to look up ‘illegal’ in the dictionary. This is not illegal, for the same reason bringing a candy bar into a movie theater is not illegal. The business owner is not the law.

    • http://www.facebook.com/shadowmelt Andy Lam

      prostateofgrace, i agree with you..i like that perspective you gave it was short simple and to the point on this matter

  • http://twitter.com/jakcrow Jak Crow

    Sorry. “Illegal” tethering? When did it become a CRIME to use your data service in exactly the same way you would whether using the phone directly or piggybacking a laptop on it?

  • Anonymous

    The obvious question that no ones bothered to ask is “How do they know if you’re tethering?” Sounds like they’re just checking the browser ID which has a simple workaround.

    Yup. This will just lead to an arms-escalation with the geeks trying more clever ways to enable tethering and Verizon/ATT trying to stop them.

  • Anonymous

    The obvious question that no ones bothered to ask is “How do they know if you’re tethering?” Sounds like they’re just checking the browser ID which has a simple workaround.

    Yup. This will just lead to an arms-escalation with the geeks trying more clever ways to enable tethering and Verizon/ATT trying to stop them.

    • Distortedloop

      Actually, I made the second post to this thread and asked exactly that…see below:  ”Curious to learn how they know you’re tethering.  If your tethering app uses the same APNs as the rest of the phone’s data streams, how can they tell you’re sharing that data with a tethered device?  I tether my unlimited iPhone data plan Android phone (SGSII) on AT&T occasionally and have never gotten the dreaded “stop tethering or we’ll charge you” message from them.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5TYJAMRIQXIKTML2CM7A22JHFU noneya

    2010 revenues at Verizon Communications Inc. totaled $106.6B, do you think they really need to charge more money?
    Verizon says use the internet only on the phone and not use the phone on the computer like this is a cable contract and need a box for every tv, and you need to pay for that box. But this isn’t a cable contract and I don’t need a box because I already have a box I can use.
    People didn’t just start tethering yesterday. Since the days of palm phones people could tether the phone to the pc and get internet using windows dialup and setting the phone up as a modem and sprint was the carrier that had this feature.

    No way verizon can know if the phone is connected to a pc when the phone is not using illegal verizon software meant to prevent customer’s full use of the device as purchased from the manufacturer. The software fundamentaly changes regular mobile software behavior in order to monopolize the market with their software and services without giving the customer the choice to use the phone as intended by the designers of the phones. If they sold the phones knowing all the capabilities and advertised such, then verizon has to remove such software that prevents full use of the device features and native software such as windows mobile, android, blackberry os or whatever OS in on the phone without hijacking the phone to cater only to their services. This is the same as if microsoft made you use only internet explorer and no other browser, and only microsoft software would run on windows and none other.

    Things like this are just unacceptable business practices that need to be dealt with in courts.

    The internet should be cheap anywhere in America wired or wireless.