Thursday, April 7, 2011

AT&T squashes my tethering fun

I am a recent victim of AT&T's new campaign to squash unauthorized tethering. I say "victim" because I like to illogically whine and complain.

If you don't know, earlier iPhones came with an "unlimited" data plan, which could be grandfathered in even after device upgrades, like when coming from an iPhone 3G to an iPhone 4. Those people (including myself) tend to clutch onto that notion of "unlimited" with every ounce of his or her soul. Even more is that jailbroken iPhones in the US have been able to unofficially tether their Internet connection to other devices since the iPhone OS 3.0 software update in 2009. Well, that ride is over, as now AT&T has found me out and sent an ultimatum, like some others.

I'm not entirely sure how AT&T is choosing who to pick on, whether they are simply going down a list of unauthorized tether-ers, or if they are looking at power-users who use a large amount of data. I unfortunately fall in the latter category. As a broke college student living on my own, I have yet to buy at-home DSL or cable service. That's right; my main Internet connection is my phone.

Last month, I topped out at around 40 some-odd gigabytes of data consumption, and that's including only mild torrent downloading. Sure, I feel as though I have abused my power of the "unlimited" pass, possibly even slowing down another's mobile broadband in the process. But having the capabilities enabled with 3G tethering from AT&T has helped me out tremendously.

This month and 12 days into my billing cycle, I've used only 4GB so far, and it looks like it will decrease even more dramatically. A 4GB monthly tethering on AT&T right now costs $45.

I don't blame my network for their decision to cut me off. The unlimited plans are for phones only, because it's more difficult to rack up the sort of data that your laptop uses. Network problems or not, a customer has a plan of service agreed upon by both parties, and tethering is a luxury I've been getting for free behind Ma Bell's back. So I'm not mad for this termination. I look at it this way: when you were in school and you got caught eating candy, the teacher always said that if one person had candy, then the whole class should too. If I tether for free, the only way to fix it would be to let everyone tether for free... Oh wait, you know that's not a bad idea.

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