Unauthorized tethering jailbreakers beware -- your unlimited data plans are in danger of being revoked by AT&T.
The practice has been rumored for months, but reports have been coming in since Thursday that AT&T has been sending warnings to customers who have been discovered to use any tethering service other than the company's official plan.
9to5Mac recieved a confirmation from an unnamed AT&T spokesperson, who stated that "earlier this year, we began 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."
The spokesperson went on to say that if users want to keep their unlimited data plans, they must stop tethering. If the tethering continues, AT&T will go ahead change the plan for them -- whether the user wants it or not, or whether they agree to the change or not. And because it was 'grandfathered in', there is no way to get that unlimited data plan back once it's gone.
This move is just the latest chapter in AT&T's attempts to make its grandfathered-in unlimited data plans irrelevant. Late last week, the company announced that throttling caps were being put in place for the heaviest downloaders. Beginning October 1st, unlimited data plan subscribers who end up among the top 5 percent of data users will suffer through the rest of that billing cycle with severely limited connection speeds.
Both of these practices are AT&T's way of punishing customers who (in the company's own words) "use an extraordinary amount of data in a single billing period" which typically include "streaming video apps, remote web camera apps, sending large data files (like video) and some online gaming" (in other words, the main features that AT&T uses to advertise iPhones and other smartphones).
While many argue that this is a fair approach to keeping bandwidth available for everyone, more cynical observers note that AT&T has virtually admitted that it is using these headline-grabbing tactics to apply leverage (some have even used the word "blackmail") to the current FCC/ DoJ anti-trust investigation concerning its acquisition of T-Mobile. “Nothing short of completing the T-Mobile merger will provide additional spectrum capacity to address these near term challenges,” AT&T argued at the end of its throttling announcement.
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