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Verizon Cuts Off Data to Unauthorized Tether Users

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Verizon Wireless may be following rival AT&T in making it difficult for users who do not subscribe to an official tethering plan, valued at $20 per month for 2 GB of data, to unofficially connect their WiFi-enabled laptop to share their Android smartphone’s mobile broadband connection.

One user noted that his data connection was blocked after he had upgraded to the most recent built of Android–presumably Android 2.3 Gingerbread–on his Droid X and proceeded to install an unofficial tethering app that attempts to bypass Verizon’s tethering plan. That user says that soon after, all webpages that he attempted to connect o redirected him to a page asking him to subscribe to the official $20 per month tethering plan. However, a quick reboot resolved his data connection as usual, but he’ll be re-directed to the upsale landing page again should he try and unofficially repeat his tethering experience.

Carriers have restricted tethering in the past, and unofficial use of tethering without the appropriate mobile broadband data plan is in violation of your terms of service with the carrier. AT&T had begun to block tethering recently as the carrier had recently introduced its own tethering data plan.

Tethering is the process of sharing your mobile broadband connection on your phone to nearby devices. On recent smartphones, the most common way to tether is over a wired USB connection or to create an ad-hoc wireless network so that a WiFi-enabled gadget can connect to, much like a mobile hotspot. In the past, tethering was also done, though more limited today, via Bluetooth connections as well.

It’s still unclear whether Verizon is detecting unauthorized tether users on the network end or if a software component on the latest Droid X update is detecting the use and sending users to the landing page asking them to upgrade to the appropriate plan every time they initiate a wireless connection. If it’s the former, it would be hard to bypass, but if it’s the latter, experienced hackers and rooters may be able to block the software code from re-routing all webpage requests to that landing page.

Via: Android Police

Tech enthusiast in Silicon Valley enjoying the possibilities of ubiquitous connectivity, information sharing, and collaboration enabled by mobile broadband. You can contact Chuong on Twitter @chuongvision or search +chuongvision on Google+.

8 Comments

  1. JP

    05/31/2011 at 3:15 pm

    Probably preaching to the choir here, but if they are really capping data on Verizon’s “unlimited” data plans at 5GB, why do they care if that allotment of data is used on their phone or on a tethered device?  Answer, pure greed that they can charge an additional $20 for features that should be included in a capped data package.  I understand that these limitations are stated in the Terms of Service for the phone agreement, but go ahead and look up the definition of “contract of adhesion” in a legal dictionary…U.S. phone carriers are a prime example of this!

  2. Bchayes

    05/31/2011 at 6:36 pm

    I have no intention of paying more money for data to get tethering. Doesn’t matter, if it is a software update, someone will just modify the software to bypass it. If it is network detected they will just change the tethering interface to hide the origin of the data and make it look like it is the phone and not another device. Either way, this is just like DRM but on bandwidth and the people it is meant to stop it will likely not stop.

  3. Korey Nicholson

    06/01/2011 at 1:15 am

    Sprint FTW!

  4. Chuck Hamilton

    06/03/2011 at 6:04 pm

    Can’t you just root the phone and install a vanilla version of android?

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