HTC ThunderBolt Reboot Update Has A Sinister Side

As you probably know, Verizon rolled out an update for the HTC ThunderBolt that has seemingly fixed the random reboot issues that had been plaguing the device for weeks on end. And while that’s fantastic, there is also a dark side to the update that Verizon decided not to publicize, something that will come in the form of an “update” to other phones in the near future. And no, we’re not talking about bloatware.

ThunderBolt Update

The dark side that I speak of is the fact that the ThunderBolt update killed off the free mobile hotspot feature that Verizon had been advertising as a “special feature” for devices like the ThunderBolt, Droid Charge and LG Revolution. So now, in order to use tethering, you’ll need to pay an additional $20 a month on top of a tiered data plan which provides an additional 2GB of monthly data usage or $30 if you are on an unlimited plan.

Going from free to $20 or $30 a month is a shame, especially when the feature has functionality issues, but trust me, it gets darker.

As DSLReports points out:

In Verizon’s case, they cleverly pretended the functionality in a number of these phones was was a “special feature” they were offering free access to for a limited time, so it looked less crooked when they crippled the devices at a later date and forced users to pay for functionality traditionally embedded in Android for free. A number of people seem to buy this logic, not understanding that this is functionality that comes embedded in the phone and/or OS by default, and Verizon is creating a false fee layer by disabling the device’s ability to function as a modem or hotspot — then pretending they provide it as a “service.”

Blocking perfectly legitimate applications and crippling devices to make an extra buck certainly runs contrary to the “open” paradigm Verizon has been paying lip service to since 2007. With users already paying per the byte and incurring additional expense regardless of what device is connected to the network — adding an additional fee to tether or use already-existent hotspot features feels counter-evolutionary and pointlessly punitive.

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What’s more is the slimy way Verizon shipped this update out. It rolled the ThunderBolt update out late at night, on a Friday, without any word of caution. In other words, if you updated your ThunderBolt, you walked right into Verizon’s clutches, possibly without even knowing it. And even if you were aware that the update would do this, you still had to decide whether it was worth giving away the mobile hotspot in order to fix the reboots. An extremely tough decision to say the least.

Rooted users probably aren’t safe for long either. It’s hard to imagine Verizon not going down the same road that AT&T took when it started sending out letters to people it suspected of unofficially tethering  threatening to automatically sign them up for a tethering plan.

HTC ThunderBolt

And it doesn’t stop with the ThunderBolt, this is something that is going to continue down the line. Verizon is going to offer similar updates for the LG Revolution and the Samsung Droid Charge that will kill hotspot functionality on those devices as well. And forget about alternative hotspot applications, the carriers pressured Google into removing any sort of third party tethering apps from the market so they could monopolize this. Verizon of course denies it had anything to do with it, but we know better.

Yes, Verizon said this was going to happen but it still doesn’t change the fact that they marketed this as a major feature on these phones, touted it as free, and then ripped it away with a beautifully timed update that rolled out to unsuspecting ThunderBolt owners. Throw in the fact that providers like AT&T and Verizon are making a killing off of a feature that, if it came down to it, they don’t need to charge for.

So, consider this a public service announcement to all Droid Charge and LG Revolution owners who will see an update touting all sorts of beneficial features but will actually with a sinister, unannounced surprise.

 

  

Comments

  1. Guest says

    I updated and didn’t even realize that I would lose free tethering. My fault but a little warning would have been nice.

  2. CAndersen2011 says

    The $30 on top of the tiered data plan is ridiculous and it’s why I won’t be getting the Droid Bionic when it arrives. It was tough to convince myself of that but I think it’s time to head to Sprint. Verizon’s outrageous tethering pricing makes no sense to a new customer who can’t get unlimited data. And the fact that it’s a featured built into the phone already makes it much worse.

    Really glad I don’t have the ThunderBolt and it’s a real shame that it happened prior to the Bionic coming out.

      • CAndersen2011 says

        Yes, but at least I can get unlimited data and not have to deal with paying for tethering AND overpriced tiered data.

    • Julie Campbell says

      It is not a tier plan for Thunderbolt, Charge and 4G phones :) Just $30. I upgraded when the hotspot was no longer free but I called!

      • Neefu says

        They misspoke. All Verizon phones now require a tiered plan, including the TBolt, Charge, and other 4G phones.

        • kenyob says

          Unless you bought your HTC Thunderbolt before the tiered pricing like I did.
          I love my HTC Thunderbold with real “Unlimited Data” (puchased before new pricing plan date of course).

  3. Dennisgib says

    About two hours before the update I noticed a couple features- car mode and rotating homescreen. I was pretty impressed. The the update came over and they were gone. Any ideas what that was?( I have a bloated thunderbolt).

    • Venom95142 says

      the car mode still works…mine only pops up when I put it in the car holder thing…

  4. Rummel_produkt says

    what tethering apps used had this happen. i only starting using a tether app after the update. i have not yet hit any road blocks or warning dialogues like that shown.

  5. Junior Youngman says

    Please people take time to do research, i have a rooted thunderbolt running gingerbread 2.3.4 with sense 3.0 , working mobile hotspot and skype video. updates are nothing more then tightening the lease on consumers! att started the tiered plans, then followed verizon, t mobile throttles speeds at 2 gb and sprint well im sure theyll be next….. ive had all carriers and you get what u pay for conpair service of each, data speeds and phones they offer. .

    • Ryan Bartholomew says

      @de9c904c09c91c730d3eb8ddbad8dbf2:disqus There’s just one problem with your approach… even with the hotspot free, if you use enough data, they’ll realize you’re tethering (or hot-spotting) and charge you anyway, despite your workaround. It’s happened many times with other phones and plans in the past. If, however, you limit your data consumption to a phone-like level, then you’ll probably get away with it.

      • Anonymous says

        Problem: I can run AmazonMP3 music player on my entire music collection for 4 days straight and use up over 10GB of data. If they threaten me with mobile hotspot thats absolute bullshit and I would challenge the hell out of that.

    • kenyob says

      What root method did you use? I wish there was an easyroot option like there was for the Original Droid before it was pulled from the market. http://www.androidcentral.com/google-pulls-easy-root-market

  6. Mgibner says

    Verizon has said for awhile now that the free hotspot would end early July anyways so no big surprise here.its always been a extra charge feature so I’m not shocked that they charge for it.the only reason it was free was because of delays on phone release and 4g issues here and there nation wide.

    • Adam Mills says

      In my opinion, with the introduction of tiered data, I think that tethering should be included in the data plans instead of having a separate extra charge.I am also concerned and angry about how Verizon handled this.

      They picked a Friday night where it knew it would get the least amount of press and hoped and prayed that people would update without researching what the update did besides fix the reboots. They put ThunderBolt owners in an extremely awkward predicament and I don’t like it one bit.

      Quite frankly, it’s stuff like this that is completely turning me off to having a smartphone. I should be able to use the phone as it is intended, remember this technology is built-in, without having to pay extreme amounts of money.

      I’m probably in the minority but that’s how I feel. I understand business is business and I realize they told people it was free for a limited time but I still don’t agree with it.

      • Keith Hamilton says

        I”m all for free tethering, but, seriously, how can you claim that you should be able to use your smartphone in any way you want? You are using your smartphone, yes, but you are using someone else’s infrastructure to transmit data to and from your phone, and that costs money to them, regardless of the carrier. 

        Should verizon just allow you to use as much data as you want? I don’t know, perhaps yes, perhaps not. Do they have to? Certainly not. If you aren’t happy with Verizon there is still a single carrier in the country that offers unlimited data (and likely not for long once the annual balance sheets come in), so go to them if you want. I’m not admonishing, I am just saying, you’re free to do whatever you want.

        If you want to enjoy the benefits of free tethering for a bit longer, do what a lot of the Tbolt community has done and root your phone and put Das BAMF or CM7 on it. Talk about being able to use your phone—Verizon’s bloated Sense OS is horrible compared to what is out there. 

        And as for the issue of Verizon releasing software on a Friday night, I definitely think you’re right on the press point, but, seriously, blaming Verizon for people’s lack of research? People make blind decisions all of the time (think EULA), and that’s on them, not anyone else. If users updated their Tbolts without reading the fine print on the PDF flyer that Verizon put out (I read the entire thing, thank you), their bad.

        Ultimately, people need to be responsible for themselves, especially considering that companies like Verizon are not going to look out for people.

        • Anonymous says

          Google installed the free mobile tethering app into the OS… Verizon DID nothing about implementing this feature. If I buy unlimited data i expect to use this data anyway I please.

      • furrito says

        So what should Verizon have done?  Make the hotspot mysteriously disappear?  It was never intended to be free forever, and they never hid that fact.

  7. Kyle Beanblossom says

    Mgibner is right. They said from the get go that it was a limited time promo. Those that are shocked shouldn’t be…

  8. Larry Wilson says

    I’m honestly surprised that everybody is shocked that Verizon did this. They said from day one the mobile hotspot option was temporary. Quite frankly, the only reason they probably extended it was that they had to make up for the huge 4G outage when it first came out. That and the fact that it’s still not ready for prime time. 

    What bugs me more is that I got away from one troubled phone (the Fascinate) only to get back into another one (the Thunderbolt). I certainly hope this doesn’t turn into a nightmare on that level. HTC and Verizon need to do whatever is necessary to get Gingerbread on this thing post-haste!

    • Adam Mills says

      People weren’t shocked that the free hotspot ended but I think people were shocked that the update arrived and Verizon said nothing about it crippling the hotspot. The average person is not going to check this out on a Friday night, they’re just going to install if prompted. That’s what pissed me off.

      The point of the article was to not only vent my frustration with that lack of transparency but to also point out to Droid Charge and Revolution owners that this will be coming soon and that I don’t agree with this policy. Here is a great quote from a comment on the source article that pretty much sums up my thinking:

      “Tethering doesn’t use spectrum. It allows the transfer of data between your phone and computer.

      With all the carriers going to metered per-MB plans, it’s not relevant. If you pay for 2GB of data, it is the same resources for the carrier if you use the data on your phone, on your tethered computer, or on your ass for that matter.”

  9. Jeffrey Zorn says

    had my phone reboot at least 2 times today and that was back to back with in 5 mins or less. and had issuses with slacker radio and a cpl other things. so I think I am going give up the hotspot as I have not used it exccpt for messing around and most anywhere I go right now I have always been able to find a free open wifi conection. and most anything I want to do when out and about and cant find a open wifi connection I can just use the internet on the phone.

  10. furrito says

    The free hotspot was supposed to end back in May.  You guys had it until July.  Who’s the real loser here?

  11. ethibault says

    paying for a service is one thing

    but paying and being considered as a fool is another

    from Europe we think there is something that sucks in US Mobile SP

    it’s the knigdom of the market but in that case for whatever reason the customer is not the knig

  12. Lala says

    This has already occurred for Revolution owners – there wasn’t even an update (that I noticed, at least) on my end, and my tethering is still gone. And I get a message similar to the one in the screenshot when I try. =/

  13. Dbillett1 says

    I get paying for tethering on the unlimited days plans, but it is just greedy to force the tiered data plans to pay extra for it. They are already paying for the bandwidth, they should be able to use it however they wish without being forced to upgrade to an additional 2 gigs they may not need.

  14. Feverishbeast says

    So what if Thunderbolt users don’t update? Are we still able to tether for free on the phone or do we still have to pay?

  15. Ryan Bartholomew says

    @09fb9e4ddab1577eada3b0c841fb6a9c:disqus They can’t do it both ways. If tethering is to cost money for unlimited data plans (most Thunderbolt users do, and likely will continue to, have this), then the newer users with tiered data must pay also. It has to be all or none, unless there’s an easy way for them to differentiate.

  16. Mgibner says

    I agree with the thunderbolt issue being a problem but after this update everything is back to normal and I love HTC sense UI and probably can’t go to another phone just because of that.Motorola’s phones lag way to much and iPhone has no customization.HTC has been ok top of there game for the most part.this phone being the first LTE phone was just asking for issues and for us who bought one are the test dummies.but I think Verizon is great and even with the new data plan its not really much different than before.I pay 30 a month now for unlimited data and use my internet a lot but still am nowhere near 2gb so i think the average person will not see a difference

  17. brad says

    First off its disabled even if you didnt upgrade .. so appreciate it was allowed for free as a promo. Second it appears they found a way to block torrent applications way more of a issue . Use wireless tether Google it for the dev apk file

    • Anonymous says

      Actually its not disabled. I have mobile hotspot’d every day since update for free.

    • Eddiekaty says

      No, it is not disabled if you did not update. I haven’t updated my Tbolt and still have all my features including free tethering. I don’t think I will update at all since I tether very often and the go.

  18. Rob Molloy says

    I’m really surprised that VZW turning off wireless tether caught people off guard. When I got the phone, I got a letter in the mail stating that I had free tether until June 15th. After the LTE shutdown in April, that got extended to July 15th. Anytime I opened the tether app, there was a popup that stated that it was temporary. I agree that since I’m paying for unlimited data, I should be able to use that any way I prefer (be it tether, or a ton of time on my phone) but VZW sets that. I AM a little annoyed to find out that this is going to happen to my wife’s charge, when I got the letter stating free tether with no end date, but I have Clear internet that I pay for, so this isn’t going to be a big deal to me.

    What I was ticked about was now I have 4 VCAST apps taking up space. I don’t care if they want to put SOME of their apps on my phone, but 4 apps for the same program, just different media is just insane. ONE app with 4 tabs would have sufficed.

  19. Julie Campbell says

    Just FYI, I called Verizon because I was use to my hotspot. It is $30 a month PERIOD!!! No other charges. You can have unlimited data with 5 devices. Yes, your hotspot can have UNLIMITED data. Now, mind you this is only to those 4G Thunderbolt and Droid Charge users. If you are 3G beware because you will be on a tier plan! So, thankful I went 4G :)

  20. BoltofThunder7 says

    iI can’t even get the update. It says No New Update Available, when I havent even updated!! Really?!

  21. philly08 says

    The free hotspot was originally suppose to end back in May, but Verizon continued the limited time service until July.  Verizon even mentioned that it was for a limited time only.  It’s not like they kept it a big secret, so why anyone is surprised is beyond me.  The fact that it was free for that long, you should be thankful.  They were never going to keep it free.  The free tethering was offered as a compensation for dalaying the thunderbolt so long, and for the 4G outage back in April.  So be happy you had all this time of free tethering.  Now I’m just waiting for the gingerbread update now that the the reboot issue is fixed.

  22. MkVsTheWorld says

    Not all tethering apps have been “pulled”. The Maketplace filters by your carrier. You can either download MarketEnabler or put your phone on Airplane mode and use wifi to search for tethering apps.

    • Dodele7 says

      Mine are not pulled, I just downloaded the latest Marketplace, and tether apps are still there.

  23. Doug says

    The update HAS NOT fixes the reboot issue with my phone. Have had 3 reboot that I saw so far, last 2 hours ago. Pathetic phone. Will get bionic day it arrives.

  24. Cc4237jre says

    I read online that the update was released and how to manually download it, which I already knew how to do. I have attempted this download countless times and everytime I select check new it begins searching for the update then just vanishes. I called VZW and the salesman says she and her bf have received the download and their thunderbolt work great now. She recommended I come to the store. I comply but she was no longer there. So I get a different salesmen who also has the thunderbolt and says that the download HAS NOT even been released yet and her phones check new option does the same to her, it just vanished after checking for new. She along with her supervisor recommends that I just wait it out like everyone else. I’m so fed up with VZW and this pos thunderbolt. Mine reboots literally 10-20 times daily. They have done nothing to compensate us consumers for their screw up. Shoulda went to T-Mobile for the HTC sensation. Fk VZW.

    • Dodele7 says

      I had the same problem for a couple days man, then like 4 days ago, it started saying No New Update Available, which really pissed me off. I suggest you download the manual update off the internet, that’s what I did yesterday. It is simple and straightforward, nothing difficult at all. Just download it (about 420MB), rename to PG05IMG, place on root of phone SD card, bootloader, then wait for update to finish, and there you go! Hope that helps man.

  25. Blackberry620 says

    Well they offer unlimit hotspot for 30$ on the day they stop the unlimit plan but it way only for that day I got it. I hope u did to

  26. Vacman2000 says

    I just found out today that my Verizon Thunderbolt which I bought understanding was a “Mobile HotSpot” now is no longer a “Mobile HotSpot”… but it could be again for a mere $20 more a month! ALL the adds next to EVERY smartphone and tab at the Verizon store, DO NOT in any way say or even slightly suggest that this “Mobil HotSpot” feature will cost you extra. I think this was, and still is, blatantly misleading and that Verizon should have a class action suite filed against them for false advertising and bait and switch!

  27. Michael Jorgensten says

    OK working for verizon and bbeing a programmer let’s me understand how stupid this is Verizon doesnt make the software and only tells Google to add certain bloatware and he mobile hot spot has always been extra. Also because it has a feature doesn’t make it free so any one that thinks that is assinine. Get a flip phone and quit complaining or realize with more features its mmore expensive and more can go wrong thats the risk reward to smart phones always has been.

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