AT&T to start forcibly changing Jailbreak tether users to tiered plans on August 11?

Is August 11 the date when AT&T finally starts forcibly switching Jailbreak users who tether unofficially to limited, tiered plans? We knew AT&T was warning users tethering unofficially with apps like MyWi, and that they were threatening to take away their unlimited plans, but when they would start the process has always been a question.

The August 11 date comes from a 9to5Mac reader.

I was just informed that as of Thursday August 11th 2011, if you use MyWi or any tethering on the phone or using the phone as a modem, AT&T will automatically change ur unlimited plan to a 2Gb tethering plan for 45 dollars without the customers consent. This is for those who received emails or texts about the use of tethering without an AT&T tethering plan.

(We assume that the data plan actually being referred to in the quote above is the $45 DataPro 4GB plan which includes tethering.)

AT&T has confirmed that they will be forcibly switching users to the tiered plans, but not the date.  Has anyone else been given a date by AT&T?

[9to5 Mac]

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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AT&T to start forcibly changing Jailbreak tether users to tiered plans on August 11?

78 Comments

I got one of these letters a long time ago. I was tethering on a grandfathered unlimited data plan with TetherMe, and I got one of these letters from AT&T stating that if I didn't stop tethering that they were going to change my plan. I ceased tethering and haven't heard from AT&T about it since.

You know... sometimes it's the short, angry, succinct comments like these that aptly express sentiments we all feel every now and then, and I especially believe it's quite appropriate at this news juncture.

I can feel my 3G speeds getting faster and faster as AT&T cracks down on these data hogs. It feels good.

I call BS. The number of those on unlimited data is miniscule (~4%), the amount of those tethering is even less. There's no way enough data is being consumed (on a 3G connection no less) by those few to affect speed for the other millions on the network.
That's like saying because someone is panting hard a mile away, they're decreasing your ability to breath.
Any speed increase is in your mind or just coincidence. This load of crap, that Unlimited Users are bringing down the network, is just AT&T lying to save face for their crappy network.

And what reason do you postulate for AT&T to be taking these actions? You have deluded yourself into believing others are not effected by people who are doing ridiculously amounts of tethering, but I doubt AT&T is making this move just to piss people off. They need to be concerned about the bulk of their customers, no the small amount that want whatever they want whenever they want it. There is a bell curve for most things and it seems to apply here as well... perceptions about whether or not a person believes they are the center of the universe. You can typically recognize these people by their writing which makes frequent use of the words "I" and "my". What "I" want! "My" rights to do xyz! You can see it a mile away. Then when you point this out, folks who lack self-awareness (a useful prerequisite for seeing yourself as the center of the world) simply say "you're an idiot", use other name-calling or go on a rant about their rights or, my personal favorite, greedy corporate America....grrrrr....."evil mean companies trying to control us".....grrrrr!!! This breed of person tends to have a limited arsenal of responses when the curtain gets pulled back on the wizard and their self-serving perspective, window-dressed in self-righteousness and civil liberties, is exposed for what it really is.
As said above, it's in the terms of service that data is for use on that device only. You just don't like the reality in front of you. But, that is one of my favorite things about reality... no matter how much you dislike it, it doesn't change ;-)

Obviously I don't "feel" my 3G speeds getting faster.
By AT&T doing this it will speed me up if someone is hogging bandwidth on the same tower I am using.
If I play video games online and my sister-in-law then gets on Skype with my bro to chat my game will be prone to lag because the video chat is taking up quite a bit of bandwidth. As soon as she gets off my connection goes back to normal and I'm lag free.
If someone is streaming 20GB of video a month on AT&T in my area and then AT&T starts throttling them they are now using less bandwidth and there is more for me. My speed and latency both increase.
Not everyone can use the same pipes at the same time. You hogs are clogging them up.

@Stin7K- The internet is not a series of tubes. Nor are wireless cell towers. Any increase you notice is and will be coincidence. They don't throttle back a tower, it's device/account centered. And your home-internet is not built the same as wireless cell towers.
@Talkin73 - Glad you got your character attack out of your system. How can I postulate my conclusion above? Because the math works in my favor and I have an understanding of how networks function. If I've deluded myself in anything, it's the belief that people wouldn't just believe anything AT&T tells them. Clearly that's not the case.
Since you're so fond of reality, here's some for you: A single user, or even a million users, tethering, does NOT affect other users any differently than if those same users were using their phones normally (such as browsing sites).
Even if everyone was downloading 3GB files on 3 different devices on their little hot-spots. Everyone still gets the same connection bandwidth as everyone downloading small files. Because 3G can only go up to so fast and is dependent on connection to the tower. <-- That's important. Read it again.
3G is inherently throttled. Why do you think 4G is making such a play? What, you think actually cleared everyone off a network so people could go faster? The iPhone will still only download at a certain speed depending on connection to the tower, regardless of others on the network. So those tethered 3GB files still download at the same speed your website, or youtube video, or whatever else is loading at. No more, no less. Same can be said if absolutely no one else was on the network, you'd still download at the same speed.
Think of it like a squirt gun connected to a bottomless lake. No matter how many people you want to soak (sharing the water), that little stream of water is all you're going to get out of the gun and at that speed. If you had a thousand people with squirt guns connected to the lake, the stream doesn't change, the speed doesn't change. There's no difference between a 1MB and a 100MB file to the iPhone connection except time pulling it down.
If you guys are going to apologize for AT&T, at least have your facts correct and have basic understanding of networks and cell towers. Oh and ease off on the petty character attacks. ;-)

This continues to be funny to me... I was a former AT&T victim... ooops, customer for many years. Check that. I was a Cingular/Bellsouth customer until AT&T bought them up & ruined everything that was good about them.
AT&T violated so many agreements with communities that Bellsouth had in place for data/dsl infrastructure upgrades that a special state law & regulation was passed in NC. I'm paraphrasing because I don't know the exact wording, but it goes something like this; "Contracts signed are understood to have all enforcement of provisions in effect for the duration of said contract. Any changes/alterations are subject for either party to terminate the contract without notice or legal recourse."
I bring this up because when we left AT&T for Verizon last September (due to increases they said were going into my plan, & service falling to the ditch, dropped calls, lack of 3G, etc.), they of course wanted to charge ETF's & fees. I refused & of course they threatened all kinds of legal actions. I then got a copy of this provision from the State Attorney General's office & presented it to the manager of my local AT&T store, who forwarded it to corporate I guess, & all those charges and fees suddenly disappeared. Never heard from them again.
Check the laws of your state AT&T folks. You may have an out from your contract that way. The federal gov't doesn't have sole jurisdiction for consumer protections. There are choices in wireless carriers now that have the iPhone. You don't have to stay at what I consider to be the worst of them all.

By the way I don't mean this post to say I support tethering by Jailbreak. I'm pretty neutral on the issue overall.
I can see the carrier saying that data hogs are killing our service capacity. I can also see customers saying spend some of the $$$ billions in profits you make & fix your network I pay for.
I just get pretty annoyed at multi-billion dollar companies that pay no corporate tax... Ala AT&T, GE, Exxon Mobil... who also try to bully consumers into believing they have no rights.

If you can find an out you could then hop over to one of Tmo's cheap prepaid plans until the next iPhone comes out and see if Sprint does end up carrying it. Tmo would only allow you on 2G speeds but it's better than being contract locked with AT&T when the next iPhone drops.

I got a warning from AT&T telling me to stop tethering and funny thing is I never even downloaded a tethering app. I wasn't even jailbroken at that time. I use Netflix a lot. Are they gonna take away my unlimited data because I use Netflix? By the way I STILL haven't done any tethering of any kind but use around 6-8G/ month. This should be interesting...

"If someone wants to tether, it's a service they should pay for, whether they're tethering at the OS level or with an alternate tethering app. "
How very accommodating. Would you be as accommodating if your TV/Cable/Satellite provider wanted you to pay for a completely separate service fee for every TV in your house? Because that's the same principal here.
Whether unlimited or limited, tethering should be included.
I'd be OK If they'd want to throttle it back (after so many hours of constant consumption), but having someone pay for two plans, one unlimited and one limited (but tetherable) is just the epitome of stupid and greedy.

Well, AT&T isn't going to charge a "completely separate service fee". They're going to charge a small add on fee, just like almost every "TV/Cable/Satelite" provider DOES charge. You know what's so great about the world of cell phones? You have provider options. Soooo if you think one is greedy, go to another. Furthermore, if you think they're all greedy, maybe you need to change your perspective...

What? AT&T is charging a separate service fee. I don't understand how you think it's not. It's not an addon because it's the same data. You're not getting more data. It's just what's been "unlocked" to be tethered.
Also not sure how you think it's a "small add on fee" when the base price for tethering is $5 more than the base data plan.
And no, most cable companies do not charge. I have 4 TVs all on separate cable boxes in my house and the service is the same price, regardless of how many boxes are feeding off of it. Now the equipment to read the feed might cost, but not the service itself.
And there's only 2 providers here in the US. There's no choice as they both do the same thing. If I need to change my perspective on what's greedy based on that, there's something wrong there.

Your argument holds no water until AT&T allows you to ONLY select the tethering option and does not require that it be an add-on to an existing data plan.

I agree. They changed my plan months after i stopped tethering. My consumption was still high because I watch Netflix while waiting for my air plane to arrive. I called ATT and they said to me that they have no obligation to prove you tethered....ever they say you did and therefore you did. I see them using this to delete all unlimited plans that are high users. they will keep a few just to say they did not eliminate all of them. I found Sprint to be accomidating not only providing a lesser expensive plan but keeping the unlimited plan on your phone and adding tethering for a lesser fee also. My family savings per month has been 30%. It amazes me that ATT will be willing to let my ten year loyalty go over $15 and will spend millions of $ advertising to me just to win my business back.... I say to ATT farewell

I have used tethering and never got a letter. Are they allowed to switch without warning?

I have to disagree. Your trying to go to the buffet and take a trashbag home with food in it. They offer their plan as all the data you can use "on this device". Read the terms and conditions. Its in there.

Come on iphone 5 for sprint. I will switch like probably millions of att users. we will make sprint raise again, if the don't change the rules. i'm f***ing unlimited without any bs limitations.
hell att and verizon..

I don't see why people are continuing to be angry about this. If you didn't pay for the service you shouldn't be tethering, period. Greedy jackasses.

What service are they paying for? Back in the day before smartphones carriers had to actually build or outsource software to allow you to tether to their cellphones. Now they don't actually do anything, just charge you a second time for you to use your own data.

I can certainly see the logic (from AT&T's perspective) of paying extra for tethering on an unlimited plan. You are buying unlimited data for your device. In addition, with an unlimited plan, if you tether is will increase the "expected" load on AT&T's network.
However, what galls me if that they charge extra for tethering on a limited data plan. If I buy 2GB, I should be able to use those 2GB any way I want. It's not like tethering my 2GB is somehow different from me using the 2GB for video streaming, music streaming, web page surfing, or something like that.
Chris

You aren't buying 2GB. You can simply use up to two gb. AT&T doesn't expect you to use the whole amount.
Those that tether would reasonably be expected to use more data. This is why AT&T charges you more. The 2GB or 4GB are just ceilings they put in.

Incorrect. You ARE buying 2GB, because you are not charged per mb used nor refunded for data you leave unused. It's a flat rate.
AT&T is taking advantage of the fact that people leave usage unused.
And Chris is right, data is data, and he's already paid for the usage, so why is he being forced to pay again just so something else can connect to the original device, and bleed off some of the data he's already paid for?

Ridiculous.
Buffets do allow you to have more than one plate. But, they'll never allow you to fill a wheelbarrow with food to share with others. The iPhone is designed to use less data than a computer, and is the reason they allow unlimited use on it alone.

While the Buffet analogy isn't exactly a good one, the "not sharing it with people" excuse doesn't work either. There are things that allow you to connect your iPhone to TV sets and monitors and everything else.
Let's look at a specific scenario. Let's say I have an iPhone3GS and an iPad2. I want to watch a netflix movie on my TV with my girlfriend (the iPad2 can run the app, but the 3GS can't), and also show my family some photos I took that are stored on my mobileme/iCloud account.
To do both these tasks I will use my TV Connector to connect both devices to a TV. For the sake of argument, let's say both places I'm at have no wifi/broadband connections.
How is it different from hooking up my iPhone to the TV to look at the photos vs hooking up my iPad, tethered to my iPhone to the TV to watch the movie?
Same amount of data will be used by the same device. The only thing is what gets to display the data. And how is it different if, instead of a 3GS, I had an iPhone4, where I could just simply plug the iphone into the TV directly to watch the Netflix movie?

Isn't that more like using an external monitor for your iPhone? The image just gets mirrored to the bigger screen. Tethering is different, you get to use the iPad to it's full potential not just view the same thing on a bigger screen.

@Michael (won't let me reply directly to you)
No, because if I had an iPhone4 it'd be STILL the same amount of data being used. The only thing different is what is displaying the data.
What the device can do is secondary, it's just a an example of program restriction to be forced to use the iPad.

@kalvin it's not a lot more data but the iPad does have certain advantages over the iPhone. Just try logging in to google docs or another web app, there is a noticeable difference. The iPad allows you to do more than the iPhone which creates more data. It's a small amount more but it's still more.
Plus you can tether to more than just an iPad, I can tether to my laptop just as easily, and have a full browsing experience. So it's not the same amount of data there either.

@Michael
In my specific scenario above, it is the same amount of data, but you are correct different things will be end up using different amounts.
The point, however, for this particular thread, is you've already paid for unlimited data. Whether you use 1MB or 1TB, you've paid for the service.
So to pay AGAIN so that you can use the already-paid-for unlimited data (and only part of it at that) is just another way for AT&T to make money. Because it all still goes through the iPhone. It's not like you're hooking up a wireless USB modem and creating another access point.
Besides, the 3G iPhone connection isn't good enough to play games or even download massive files. The few people that try should absolutely be regulated if they are causing true network problems. But for 98% of all users, there's no real reason, beyond greed, to restrict their tethering of devices. Whether you have an unlimited plan or even if you have a 2GB plan.
Especially when you factor in that other phones on AT&Ts roster/plans can do it for free(or at least they could - I haven't checked recently). The only one that was restricted was the iPhone.

"...the "not sharing it with people" excuse doesn't work either."

Sure it does. The article above is about "tethering" with apps like MiWi, which create hotspots for others to share. It's not about monitors.

@Fastlane, no it doesn't. It's still the same data stream coming from the same phone connection. The connection/usage remains the same regardless if you're using it for 1 person or 100 people.

@kalvin It's true, the speeds and ability with the iPhone to do anything like play an FPS wouldn't work very well. The point of the thread is that you did pay for unlimited data, but you paid for unlimited data for your iphone, not for all your other devices to attach to it.
I can see if you had a capped plan, because you can't use more than what you paid for, but with an unlimited plan it's like paying for a child's price at the buffet and having a hungry adult eating. You're getting the low price because they expect you to use less data, just like the child gets a lower price because they expect the child to eat less.
I'm not sure what AT&T does with other phones or really anything since I'm getting ripped off (in other ways) in Canada instead of down in the US, but if they did offer it for free on other phones that would suck.

I'm jailbroken and have used MyWi to do some light tethering when a WiFi connection isn't available for my iPad. But if you're abusing your "free" tethering to the point that AT&T can identify and charge you, then you've only got yourself to blame. You signed the contract agreeing to only use data on your covered device, so if you get caught, tough nuggets.

I don't think it's been concluded yet as to whether or not AT&T even separates abusers from non-abusers. Perhaps they will change one's data plan even if only 10 MB is used with MyWi. Rather than continually keeping tabs on a "light" tetherer, they may just find it easier to do this to anyone they see using unauthorized tethering.

So when I'm at my girlfriend's apartment, and I hook my laptop up to my phone to look at a page, am I stealing...or just using my unlimited data that I pay for? I don't set up a wifi hotspot to let everybody use. I just tether via a USB cable and prefer to look at my laptop screen instead of a smaller cell screen. I understand that letting everybody within a wifi range will definitely use a higher amount of data, but cutting me off of my unlimited plan for wanting to use my unlimited data on a larger screen with an easier to type on keypad is ridiculous.
Can they even tell if you're running a hotspot, or just tethering one laptop via cable? Regardless, once the semester starts and the school activates the internet in the apartments...I won't need to tether anymore.
To people who feel that I'm entitled...I am. I'm entitled to use the service that I PAY FOR.

Reading some of the comments I'm a bit disappointed in some. Why should you pay extra for tethering when you already pay $15-$45 for data? It's the same data. If you tether and you don't go over your data limits, what does it matter? I would think as a consumer you would want fair pricing. It's shouldn't cost me $15 extra to allow my computer to share my phones Internet connection. I worry about comsumers these days. They'll pay for anything. ... That's why we have shit service but pay premium prices. I split my cell bill so I'm already getting over on AT&T. No more then what they're already doing to me. The fact that they charge you extra for txt messaging should open your eyes to the game.

"If you tether and you don't go over your data limits, what does it matter?"
Yeah, but we're not talking about the limited plans... I have seen no mention of anyone on a 200MB or 2GB plan being sent this warning. I don't think they care enough to do anything if you free-tether on those. It's the unlimited plan which could be abused that they want to kill by any means. Being able to charge an extra $10 per GB over the limit is what they are after, and for those abusing the system I have no sympathies. Hope you guys had fun while it lasted.
PS. I agree that SMS is a racket.

This "Start your own wireless company" thing doesn't work. AT&T and Verizon own the towers, the amount of time, money, and effort to that doesn't work. AT&T had UNLIMITED data, there isn't any limit. So how can they (rightly) say I'm using more than my UNLIMITED allows?

Ahhhh... Cute. Instead of rebutting what I write you try an insult. Points for doing what's expected of you!

I have till my next billing cycle whitch is on the 13th of this moth :( att are assholes so I'm switching to sprint, I'm sure alot of customers will too

I find it interesting that they're going to force unlimited data users to tiered pricing for using unofficial tether apps.
It's chilling thing is, knowing that they'll do it, what's to stop them from doing to all their unlimited customers who don't tether?

My question is how can you prove to ATT that you don't tether, but instead stream netflix or music all day long? How can they prove you don't?

so is this for ppl that already got the notice? cuz i heard of ppl that tether and never got the notice from ATT to stop tethering.....

Yes, if I pay for it, I'm entitled to use it. Is It stealing when I use a wireless router with my home Internet connection

People, I realize most of you aren't very savvy when it comes to telecoms, but here's the facts. It costs a provider nothing to provide you with tethering beyond the data plan. Charging you for tethering is a means of charging you for nothing. The term here, is con and that makes purchasers of a tethering plan the dupes.
More importantly, while AT&T can regulate which software it offers and can attempt some contractual mitigation of tethering, it's more or less contractually unenforcable. They can't prove it, they can't legally stop it. They can change your plan at a whim (you signed up for that) and you can break contract at that point.
Lastly, for everyone saying it's their network, it isn't. They built it with our tax dollars and special considerations given to them by our government. There isn't any real competition in the telecom industry and that's why there's overwhelming negativity towards the businesses that illegally dominate it. The largest myth is that they have paid or somehow done something to build the vast network needed to run such a business when the truth is that it was almost entirely paid for and researched with public funds. We own the network and until we start demanding access to it, we will continue to pay the least among us for no gain.

Ok, so I got the warning text, about 2 weeks ago. Does this mean there going to automatically, change it on the 11th, since I used it, or does it mean as of the 11th if I still tether, they will automatically change it?

Ok, so I had got the text from AT&T about 2 weeks ago. So does this mean on the 11th they'll automatically change my data plan, or does it mean as of the 11th if I still tether, then they will change automatically change it?

Ok, so I had got the text from AT&T about 2 weeks ago. So does this mean on the 11th they'll automatically change my data plan, or does it mean as of the 11th if I still tether, then they will change automatically change it?

Well I havent gotten a text message like that so Im assuming that I am safe. Even though I think its BS. I mean dont we all already pay an enormous amount of money for having an iphone anyways?

yes i just go this letter and i called it was confimred .after sept 1 ANY use of teathering device will change ur plan from unlimited to 4 gig

When I signed my contract for unlimited data I was told I could use as much as I want because it's "unlimited". But ATT should not be able to put restrictions on how I use my data. That's like buying gas for your car and the gas ration saying you can only drive 40 miles a day but you have a full tank. It's ridiculous. I will continue to tether and of they change my plan or delete my unlimited plan I will use the lawyers that my dad has on retainer and sue the shit out of them. With my bill increasing 20 ars exh month for no reason and all the other bogus charges they have gotten enough money from me. Let's all band together and fight this injustice. Email me and let's get a petition going to end this!Jbrey411@gmail.com

recklessly no but after you pay the toll you are free to drive the road. FREE to drive the road. unlike a car the speed is directed by the service provider but the driver is still me. If i choose to stay on the road for hours I am allowed I paid the toll If I have my family with me they too benefit from my paying the toll. There is no additional surcharge per head (or Device).