iPhone owners that jailbreak so they can share their 3G wireless data connection with other devices instead of paying for AT&T’s tethering plan started receiving letters from the cell service provider on Friday letting them know the jig is up. AT&T warned customers that if they continue to use tethering services without paying for the feature, their service contracts will automatically be updated to include the company’s monthly tethering plan payment, according to OS X Daily.
AT&T to customers: No free tethering
The letter AT&T customers received said, in part:
Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T’s mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan.
Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan.
If customers stop using jailbreak-enabled tethering through apps like MyWi, AT&T plans to drop the matter. If they continue to use their jailbroken tethering tools, however, AT&T will automatically change out their iPhone data plan for the US$45 a month DataPro 4GB with tethering plan on March 27.
No doubt jailbreakers, or iPhone users that hack their smartphone so they can install third-party apps that aren’t available through Apple’s App Store, will be disappointed with AT&T’s new stance and will claim they should be able to use their wireless data plan as they please. For its part, AT&T doesn’t see it that way.
Like any cell service provider, AT&T is looking for the places it can improve its revenue stream, and charging customers for tethering is one of the many avenues the company pursues. It also uses paid tethering plans as a barrier to help keep wireless data activity more under control — or at least to keep potentially heavy data users from chewing through all the wireless bandwidth while less data hungry users complain about slow connections.
Regardless of whether or not AT&T should charge customers for data tether plans, the company is, and seems to be able to tell exactly who is using the feature even if they are jailbreaking their iPhone.
If you received a tethering notice from AT&T and want to make sure your data plan doesn’t change — especially if you are grandfathered in on an unlimited data plan — be sure to contact AT&T before March 27.