How AT&T Detects Unofficial Tethering and How to Stop It by Acting Like Android

May 9, 2011 - 80 Comments

How AT&T Detects Tethering from iPhones

You probably know by now that AT&T isn’t a fan of unofficial iPhone tethering, and they are now auto-updating accounts to paid tethering plans when they detect an iPhone users unauthorized tethering activity.

How AT&T Detects Unofficial Tethering from the iPhone
So how does AT&T know you are tethering in the first place? Apparently it’s very easy to detect from iPhone users, as AndroidPolice explains:

Jailbroken iPhones typically use the same tethering technique as a standard iPhone, the one that’s already present in iOS. This method exposes tethering activity quite readily, because the iPhone, when in tethering mode, sends traffic through an alternate APN (AT&T access point/router) for the express purpose of identifying the traffic as tethered data. This makes it extremely easy for AT&T to identify whether or not an iOS device is utilizing tethering, and just how much of their data is consumed via tethering.

In other words, AT&T simply looks at who is using tethered data through these APN’s, and then they cross-check these user accounts to see if they’re paying for a tethering plan. It’s that simple.

Hiding Unofficial iPhone Tethering Usage, or, How to Be Like an Android User
In order to understand how users will hide their tethering usage, we have to understand why unofficial tethering on Android isn’t taking the same heat from AT&T as iPhone users. Again AndroidPolice explains:

Android tethering, on the other hand, isn’t set up to route data through an alternate APN when the phone is in tethering mode – meaning AT&T would actually have to scan packets to determine whether or not you’re tethering. This requires diversion of AT&T’s resources (read: money), while identifying iPhone tethering is markedly simpler (read: cheap).

Because of this, AndroidPolice suggests that Android users may never have to worry about paying the unofficial tethering fee, because easy to detect Apple iPhone users dominate the AT&T subscriber base making them a more cost effective target.

In other words, if you don’t want AT&T to know you’re using an unofficial tethering app, you have to hide this by behaving more like an Android tethering app and not using the alternate APN’s. Currently, this ability is limited to the newest version of PDANet, which has a “Hide Usage” option in the app.

PDANet attempts to hide unofficial tethering

I’m not going to recommend using this approach to hide tethering usage, while I disagree with AT&T’s crackdown, they clearly doesn’t want users tethering without paying a fee. It’s their service, we signed up for it, we play by their rules. Is it fair? Many including myself don’t think so, but that’s the way it goes. Why bother jumping through all these hoops when you can just pay an extra $20/month and not have to worry about it?

(btw that awesome Death Star AT&T logo is also from AndroidPolice)


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, News


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  1. Darth Luddious says:

    I just simply called AT&T and canceled my account and moved over to Verizon Unlimited plan… no need to worry about tethering….


  2. Michael says:

    Someone has been tethering me without my permission stealing all my data how do I stop this! I own a Galaxy 6’s plus Edge … if anyone out there has an answer for me I would truly appreciate it

  3. tony says:

    i have unlimited data but
    i just got a text message from att saying: because you use your smartphone at a mobile ho spot your plan has been updated to a DataPro 5GB plan which includes mobile hotspot capability.
    they had warned me before this but i did not listen i continued to tether.

    i was really upset when i got the text so i called to fight it.
    i said i wanted my ulimited back. she asked if i was tethering i denied the whole thing. she said it wasnt shut off yet but it would be.
    i asked if she could stop it, she said no uless i know how my phone is tethering. i finally admited it and she said she could let me keep my ulimited with the execption that if i even tether for 10 seconds my plan will change.


    even though i cant and dont tether anymore. its ok its still worth it.
    so if you get that text just be honest and apologize. they will let you keep it if you agree not to tether anymore

    FYI i had a jailbroken iphone 5 and was using mywi to tether. THEY CAN SEE IF YOUR ARE TETHERING.

    • Don r smith says:

      My account has been hacked over and over because of notes! Delete your notes! Who pays $617.00 for two months with 3 phones and a wifi account? This old dog is learning new tricks. I want a refund on all of my accounts abs new clean phones! Deleted all my data on computer and all the phones. It has to be done to protect my identy. My wife found her face all over a dating website! This is abuse in the worst way! Those who did it know what they did it! Sheer pure hate and evil intent! She lets a higher power fight her battles and reads. This is how she found the tethering sight! Unplugged her chromcast device too! One computer fried! Our son will repair the damage. Paid Norton too and windows live. Hackers beware! I have a flag on all our accounts! Don

  4. Luis says:

    att might as well charge for using your house’s wifi!!!!! i just got the email. they can seriously go f themselves!!

  5. alude904 says:

    Don’t use PDA Net for the iPhone. AT&T will catch you. even if you use that feature that supposedly hides your tethering from them. it doesn’t work. AT&T has caught two of my iPhones tethering. just warning you now.

  6. TrackerX55 says:

    I’ve just received one of those e-mails and I don’t even use tethering. Being that all I can get is a dial-up, I use my phone for everything, work and the research I do entails a lot of data usage, max of 15gb 6 months ago which is why I opted for the unlimited data at the time. I download what I need and then transfer it to my PC at home. 3 weeks ago I installed PDAnet on my phone but have yet to try it as my signal at home is unreliable at best, (I can watch my phone log back on to the system an average of 6-7 times an hour). Concurrently not long after that I updated the OS to Gingerbread and as you know AT&T has to put their hacks into it before releasing it. The real issue is
    1. The packet sniffing that was mentioned earlier
    2. With the AT&T hacking of the software, the possibility
    of them scanning your phone to see what you have on
    your phone.

    BOTH a violation of Privacy..

    Simply put AT&T’s service sucks, but they keep coming up with ways to charge you more for a service that is completely unreliable (All carriers do). This is totally unacceptable.
    I see people filing lawsuits against them, AGAIN…

  7. bruce says:

    oh update i very rarely if ever use net flix or hulu.

  8. bruce says:

    I have verizon unlimited data. I have used iphones and android devices. I have had 3 verizon reps tell me to use And dont worry about it. The most i ever used was 8Gigs in one month. I have never gotten a letter from verizon. On avg. i use 5 to 6 GIGS IN A MONTH. And i do a lot of tethering. And on my android devices i use barnacle wifi its wifi hot spot. So is for iphone. So unless your a DATA HOG well yes you will get letters and busted. Which puts a smile on my face.

    • Keith says:

      Bruce, that last line is a little dick-ish.

      You miss the point that MANY people who have tethered very little get the AT&T letters and if you continue tethering, you will too.

      …and THAT will put a BIG smile on my face.

  9. Travis says:

    I don’t have that many Internet ready devices but I have a few a PS 3 an apple tv and an I pad. Before I started tethering the only difference in my data usage is that I can play online games such as MW3, Ive kept up with it and it uses very little data and it still runs fine now that they have started throttling the data. I would definnatley get home Internet such as DSL but it is not offered in my area I have Hughes and have had it for a while but is to slow to stream movies and such. Point is I The same amount of data with tethering as I did without because I had Hulu and Netflix on my phone and connected it with an av cable. So I believe they are wrong in my case for throttling my data and the tethering deal. I also feel violated that they can see speculate or manage any thing besides what I have signed up for on my contract. Doesn’t it seem like a violation of privacy them knowing you are using tethering. I purchased my phone and feel they have absolutely no right looking any further than the data reaching the phone.

    • gamedad94928 says:

      This seems like the most important infringement and most people are missing the big point, you are right Travis, they don’t have the right to go inspecting our packets and they do, our streamline ISP’s have refused to do this in the past as it is an infringement of our privacy,but it appears that this does not bother AT&T or the people they are intimidating and threatening. It seems like the real (legal) case here would be the packet sniffing and snooping that I am pretty sure is very illegal without a warrant!

  10. Jaz says:

    You people who think you can sue AT&T are just waisting your time. Do you really think they are stupid enough to do this to people without knowing its legal? Believe me, they have plenty of lawyers that tell them what to put in the terms and conditions. Your best bet is to threaten to leave, and believe me they are only willing to lose a few people before they say ok you can tether now. They can’t afford to lose all of us. Except for that one idiot hooking up all his devices to his phone. I hope ATT&T bans him for good. In the meantime, just jailbreak and unlock your phone and go to Tmobile until AT&T realizes they pissed too many people off and then give us our unlimited tethering back.

    • quinth says:

      very DUMB IDEA TMOBILE gives you a measly 2G with iphone if you want tmobile GET A 4G PHONE WITH EM FOOL

  11. webdvpr says:

    Just pay $20 a month? No, my friend. How about 1) Lose my unlimited data plan forever, and 2) pay $60 (not $20) per month for the convenience of occasionally checking email from grandma’s house…

  12. Teresa says:

    I am a customer of AT&T and have been for several years now. I was also grandfathered with the UNLIMITED data, text, and talk plan on my iPhone 3G and now my iPhone4, But I have recently realized they have decided to take it among their selves to change my contract and provide me with a 4GB Tethering Data Plan for $45 extra every month. I will not pay for that let me mention that the AT&T Rep I spoke with and also had a Apple Rep on the line tell me if I was connecting my phone to my car stereo to listen to my music via my car speakers that was considered tethering and that’s what AT&T was picking up on their networks data service there for they feel they need to charge me to listen to my music via my car stereo speakers. (I think not) I am in the process of filing against AT&T through the court system for breaking my contract to full fill their greedy needs and wants. How ever if I were to break that same contract I would be charged at minimum $245.00 fee for doing so. Why can’t they be fined for doing the same thing when they are in the wrong…. Your iPhone has to be jailbroken in order to tether it mine is not. Apple confirmed to AT&T I was not tethering with my iPhone 4 yet they say different. AT&T is by far the worst cell company in my eyes. They are price gouging their customers and as far as their Customer Service goes it’s the worst of the worst. I vote that Apple the company that makes the iPhone start up their own cell service to provide service to customers that choose to use the iPhone. Why pay another cell company money to miss lead and cause hard feelings between people that have spent hundreds of dollars on these phones. AT&T doesn’t know what they are representing and miss representing when they discuss the iPhone. They have NO CLUE of the actual features the iPhone is capable of doing. Wait till they find out though…

    Apple please think about providing a service of your own to you iPhone customers… I know I’d for sure swap from AT&T….

    • gamedad94928 says:

      Please let us know how the court case goes, I am sure there are several people wanting to go that route too, but are intimidated by the process and in the process lose too much time…
      BTW, I hope you beat the Sh1t out of em’ in court, they need to learn they cannot do this to people!

  13. Dave says:

    Even if you WANTED to pay the ATT tethering fee, they will force you to loose your grandfathered UNLIMITED DATA package. Trust me on that…. So if your an UNLIMITED DATA user, its pretty obvious that you are better off taking the risk with a tether app. Think about it.

  14. George Leon says:

    That Awesome deathstar logo is NOT FROM Android Police. It is older than dirt and was provided to me in the Kaiser thread at XDA for use on a rom. Give proper credit to the artists that render images.

  15. Jay says:

    Hello people! If they let you tether your home computers they can’t charge you for home internet. I’m stuck paying $35 a month for DSL and paying Data for my iphone! Could you imagine if everybody tethered to there home computer without paying? Att DSL would close and thousands of jobs would be lost and Att would lose Billions! Makes you think why did they eve invent tethering? Att is just a bunch of dumb asses!

  16. berin says:

    so this is interesting. I have not tethered my phone, yet I have a LOT OF data usage. I do torrents on my phone now and then because its the only way to download some files I have a samsung jack i637. I have wmirc an irc client for win moble phones. and a lot of other stuff. but its all on m phone. And I’m yet an other person being told I AM tethering regardless they know I am. Stop or else WTF
    So I flat out told the rep if they are going to kill my account as is for using my unlimated plan they dont need my money.

    BY THE WAY am I correct or mistaken in the fact that updates for some phones for general software code update is transmitted via P2P based data transmission systems… HUMMMMMMMMMMM……… So its we can you cant more or less.

  17. Remsiv says:

    Oops, forgot to include this: Full test of section 6.2 of AT&T wireless terms.

    Except as may otherwise be specifically permitted or prohibited for select data plans, data sessions may be conducted only for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). While most common uses for Internet browsing, email and intranet access are permitted by your data plan, there are certain uses that cause extreme network capacity issues and interference with the network and are therefore prohibited. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine-to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing; (ii) as a substitute or backup for private lines, wireline s or full-time or dedicated data connections; (iii) “auto-responders,” “cancel-bots,” or similar automated or manual routines which generate excessive amounts of net traffic, or which disrupt net user groups or email use by others; (iv) “spam” or unsolicited commercial or bulk email (or activities that have the effect of facilitating unsolicited commercial email or unsolicited bulk email); (v) any activity that adversely affects the ability of other people or systems to use either AT&T’s wireless services or other parties’ Internet-based resources, including “denial of service” (DoS) attacks against another network host or individual user; (vi) accessing, or attempting to access without authority, the accounts of others, or to penetrate, or attempt to penetrate, security measures of AT&T’s wireless network or another entity’s network or systems; (vii) software or other devices that maintain continuous active Internet connections when a computer’s connection would otherwise be idle or any “keep alive” functions, unless they adhere to AT&T’s data retry requirements, which may be changed from time to time. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file sharing services, redirecting television signals for viewing on Personal Computers, web broadcasting, and/or for the operation of servers, telemetry devices and/or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition devices is prohibited. Furthermore, plans (unless specifically designated for tethering usage) cannot be used for any applications that tether the device (through use of, including without limitation, connection kits, other phone/smartphone to computer accessories, BLUETOOTH® or any other wireless technology) to Personal Computers (including without limitation, laptops), or other equipment for any purpose. Accordingly, AT&T reserves the right to (i) deny, disconnect, modify and/or terminate Service, without notice, to anyone it believes is using the Service in any manner prohibited or whose usage adversely impacts its wireless network or service levels or hinders access to its wireless network, including without limitation, after a significant period of inactivity or after sessions of excessive usage and (ii) otherwise protect its wireless network from harm, compromised capacity or degradation in performance, which may impact legitimate data flows. You may not send solicitations to AT&T’s wireless subscribers without their consent. You may not use the Services other than as intended by AT&T and applicable law. Plans are for individual, non-commercial use only and are not for resale. AT&T may, but is not required to, monitor your compliance, or the compliance of other subscribers, with AT&T’s terms, conditions, or policies.

  18. Remsiv says:

    I got a text today within 5 minutes of starting to use MiWi about changing my unlimited data plan. I called AT&T and told them I had been directly downloading torrents to my jailbroken iPhone. I hoped that this would make them think that all my torrenting had come directly from my iPhone and that I was not tethering.

    However the representative told me to check out section 6.2 their wireless terms. I states that any P2P connection is prohibited along with just about any other attempts to freely use data plans in a way that AT&T doesn’t approve of (full text of section 6.2 below). It does say that you can use any tethering method, if you pay for a tethering plan.

    They gave me an extension so I can keep my unlimited plan as long as they don’t detect anymore torrenting or tethering.

  19. T. Moog says:

    I totally agree that unlimited data is unlimited data. However, the terms of service do state that you are not to use that connection for tethering. They ALWAYS have! Is this like paying for water and then getting charged additional for watering the lawn? Well, if you have a signed agreement with your water provider stating that you will not water your lawn, then yes. they would then have the right to charge you a separate “Lawn watering” fee. (and in several towns around me, they WILL disconnect your service and fine you if you are caught watering your lawn.) Several water providers are actually charging you more per gallon if you go over a specified amount of usage in a month.

    Every service provider has the right to set boundaries on how you use their services. I can even remember a time when you were not allowed to use your own telephone on your land-based phone service. All telephone equipment had to be leased from the phone company. If they caught you using anything other than what you had leased from them, they could cut your service and bill you for it.

    AT&T has prohibited unauthorized tethering since the beginning. It is only now that they can tell if you are actually doing it. It has been a free ride for a long time, and the free ride is over. Consider that it was good while it lasted!

    I can also understand why they are not offering unlimited services with authorized tethering because of people like the guy above that burn through more data transfer than Go daddy with his TVs, Video games and enough PCs to run a space mission at NASA. Some people think that “unlimited” means that they HAVE to find a way to burn through as much as they possibly can… even if it means that they have to cross over into the ridiculous to accomplish it. It is the ABUSERS that ruin it for the casual user like the guy who is stuck in an airport who needs to check email once a month, or the person who is on a business trip and stuck in a hotel with crappy or non existent wifi.

    I provide “reasonably unlimited” voiceover services to radio stations around the world. Most of my clients NEVER get me to raise an eyebrow at them – EVEN if they send me something to read that is outside what I would consider to be “normal”. There are others, however, (and usually the ones who pay the lowest rates) who would send me the New York City phone book to read once a week if I would let them. They have the attitude that “I have unlimited, I am going to GET unlimited… Even if I have to go out of my way and waste time, money and resources to get it!”

    I have used a jailbroken iPhone and an Android phone with a modded rom to gain access to the network with my laptop and iPad. It never occurred to me to try to hook up netflix and to download a bunch of youtube crap, much less MULTIPLES of each of them. You might as well dial 611 from your handset and tell them what you are doing and then ask them what they are going to do about it!

    Now, thanks to the abusers of the system, while I am out of town, I get to download my email on my phone, read the scripts my clients send me on a 5″ screen, record it onto my laptop and walk the streets looking for a wifi connection to upload the audio files . It still isn’t worth an additional $20.00 per month and limits on my service, however.

    I agree that unlimited should be unlimited, but as long as there are those walking the streets squeezing blood out of rocks, there is no way to offer that and make it fair for everyone.

    Just my .02.

  20. Happy Android says:

    Hey guys and gals…I am an Android user and got the text/letter from ATT. I am running a custom ROM (OS for android) that allows me to tether as a ‘feature’ not an app. I got the text so I called and they said that they will not charge me as long as I stop tethering. So, even Android users are not safe :(
    BUT…I have not used the app PDANet yet so I don’t know if all is lost yet…there is an app for all mobile operating systems and I beleve that it will work (the hiding aspect) but I am not really for sure and kind of…ok I will say it…scared to try it because I don’t want to pay and I have already used my ‘get out of jail for free’ card.
    So, if anybody knows that answer, please share with the class.

  21. Bill says:

    Hey guys, just got a letter in the mail as well as a text message from att. Don’t really know what to do, but it makes no sense to me why I should have to pay for the same service twice. That would be like an ISP (Comcast, ATT, Cox, etc) charging for each additional port you use on your router/switch. How can we as a community go about getting AT&T to change their evil ways?

  22. Jason says:

    Oh to add to it all I have home internet 40 bucks/month. My home computer is connected to the home wi-fi and I am connected to the 3G network while I iTeliport through my iPad. I don’t use my 3G service at home, but, my wifi. Just to clarify.

  23. RayRay says:

    Am I looking at this right?? No1 has anyway to stop them from picking up if we are tethering or not? Unlike the other guy I dont have all that stuff and all i do is stream my Netflix (because i dont have Sat or Cable) and do my homework on my computer (6 more classes hate to lose my internet and almost be done with school). I dont have the money to pay for a internet connection (since I already pay for unlimited package). To the guys question above??? Does anyone see that looping thing coming out anytime soon?? Im not a programmer either but that makes since what he was saying?? Just need to know something before the 30th??!?!? If there is a app out there that is truly keeping them from seeing what is happening please post it! Thanks!

  24. Vitaliy says:

    Have you heard of virgin hot spot ? It’s $50 a month has 5g a month and you can connect up to 4 devices . No contract . AT&T is f”@””cin crazy I pay $30/month for unlimited package and $20/month for textng + phone charge . And I got letter for tethering. Are we not paying enough ? I love I phOne if I didn’t have to have data plan I would rather use virgin hot spot . But for noW I tether with PDA net. If AT&T says something I’m leaving them . Once iPhone 5 rummers are saying all companies will have it. AT&T will lose more then 60% of it clients . With sprint it will be either $80 Or $100 unlimited everything . I have 3-10 dropped calls a day AT&T used to say back when I had 3GS I phone 4 won’t have the problem they I was told need to wait for update then change phone (3times) then wait more updates now 2 yrs passed SAMe problem . Att will lose most iPhone customers phone all companies have iPhone . I pay $160 a month , can’t tether nor have good phone service.

    • Jason says:

      I agree with all who are saying that AT&T has no business screwing their good paying customers. They are breaking privacy laws to enforce this practice of detecting users of unauthorized tethering. I for one pay almost $200/ month on a family plan. With unlimited 3G service now downgrading me to 4G cap and tethering. I use MiWi for linking my iPad to my computer at home using iTeliport. I use the Bluetooth method; it uses less power.

      I am paying enough for crappy service. My contract is up in November and am making plans to move both my wife and I to Sprint. The still have their unlimited plans and I estimate I will save close to 40% on my monthly bill. I hope that someone sues At&t for this obivious breach of their promise of unlimited data and our privacy.

      Looking at all of your responses I think we have enough people to start a class action lawsuit against them. What are all your thoughts?

      • Teresa says:

        I agree 500% with you!!!!

        • Ed says:

          I agree with you too, I pay for cable Internet, I try to connect around the city to xfinity hotspots to avoid using extra data so AT&T will leave me alone, but still I receive emails, text messages, so tired of them!!! In march I’m switching to sprint, almost 4 years with crappy connection, dropped calls, if anyone decides to sue, count me in.

      • sdlkj says:

        How is that a breach of privacy? They are allowed to look at any and all traffic that they serve to your phone. Now, if you were on Wi-Fi at home, and they looked at the packets you were sending there, that would be a violation of your privacy. But it’s their network, and they are allowed to look at anything you do on the internet, even if that’s only to protect themselves and be able to comply with legal investigations as to your activities. They have every right to detect that you’re using a service that you haven’t paid for and try to get you to pay for it.

        On the other hand, I wholeheartedly agree that you shouldn’t *have* to pay for that service, tethering is a crappy way to try to get people to let go of the unlimited plan.

        But even though it’s stupid, they can still do that, and you have every right to stop paying them the money and move to a better carrier. Then, they will find out that people do not like the way they are trying to run their business – as that business falls apart.

        Unfortunately, it’s a crappy situation, because they are doing this and many people are too ignorant to do anything about it. So, while I agree that their position is dumb (I’m paying for lots of data, why do you care *where* I consume it – iPhones can now pull just as much bandwidth as a computer, and it’s not like when I tether I get anymore bandwidth anyway, it’s still awfully slow), there really isn’t any point to trying to sue them. That’s almost a pity lawsuit – look we can’t figure out how to manage this ourselves, so instead of letting them figure it out when people stop paying them, we want to try and cry about feeling duped (did you read your contract…?).

  25. corey says:

    Android user here, just got busted for unauth tethering.

    • Casey says:

      Android user with a rooted Captivate. Just got the email, called them – they will switch me to the new plan if they detect tethering activity at any time after September 30, 2011.

      Hopefully our community can fix this.

      • Chris says:

        Same here, called and found out that streaming music through the headphone jack with apps like pandora is even considered tethering. Im wating til they change my plan then taking advatange of the clause in the TOS that gives me thirty days to terminate without and fees. Using rooted cappy as well

        • Andy says:

          Streaming music through the headphone jack to a pair of speakers is not tethering. This conversation is talking about sharing your phones internet connection with another device in order to access the internet from that device. Either you’ve misunderstood what the rep was explaining or the rep simply did not explain correctly. Either way, hooking up a pair of speakers or headphones to your headphone jack to play Pandora is perfectly fine.

          • Renzo says:

            While I agree with you, AT&T has told me the same story as well. They claim that if you connect your phone in any possible way to any device that this is considered tethering. Yes, I know that this is not tethering, but they claim it is.

  26. Martha says:

    I use Verizon air card for my computer because I regularly visit my Mom & grandkids. Also have iPhone 3 w/ AT&T unlimited plan. Just bought iPad and find I have no connection. I don’t want to cheat the system (well, maybe) but I’m looking for wifi w/out paying arm & leg. I don’t want to lose my plan; already pay too much. What’s a grandmother to do?

    • gamedad94928 says:

      Martha, you can use your Verizon air card from your computer and share your internet to your iPad for free….and your not cheating the system (at time of writing anyway) ;) Look up ICS on Google…then your operating system and someone out there will walk you through the process, check YouTube, they may have a tutorial that will show you the process so that it does not look so daunting.

  27. R916 says:

    I just got off the phone with AT&T, hour long call, I was able to get ‘some’ information on how they are detecting it. he was very good at running around the question of how it is done but i was able to get him a little frustrated and he slipped in his words a bit.

    Where the Data Services Manager slipped was when he told me that the data coming back into the phone was ‘not terminating’ at the device. when I asked him to confirm what he said he wouldn’t, I would like to assume his silence is confirmation, hence this post.

    They would be able to it by the MAC or IP of the device with minimal effort they would still have to sniff the packets to get its src and dst of the packet coming back to the device and it does carry some information on where the data came from(which site or service you are accessing).

    I am no programmer or hacker but i have networking experience. Question to you who are programmers and hackers:

    is there a way to spoof the phones mac address and create some kind of loopback routing which if the data is looped then it is sent to the additional device, almost like using a loopback address/interface on a router, where if the destination is not found on that network it automatically gets sent to the loopback and/or bit bucket this way the data would appear to have terminated at the device.

    Just an Idea.

    I’ll say it again i’m not a programmer or hacker.

  28. kriss133 says:

    im on unlim plan from orange, using theter(mywy or theterme), never got a note about it.(1year now)
    theter is 4€/month anyway. :) so not big deal.

    • The Pilot says:

      The data networks in Europe aren’t really clogged because compared to the USA, we use many more times data than Europe does. Don’t believe me? Look at EU stats. I fly all over the world and the per capita use of data seems to be the highest both here USA and some of the Asian nations.

  29. Jones says:

    You mention your “3 pc’s, two ps3′s & an xbox (2 PSN & 1 Live account), 2 iphones, an iPad, and lots of Internet movies and tv streamed to 2 large HDTV’s” but you are too POOR to afford to pay for the ridiculous amount of data meant for a cellphone. Boo freeking Hoo. Who’s the greedy one?

    Man up and get a home internet connection like most people. I hope ATT busts you hard. It is Mega-users like you that caused ATT to stop doing unlimited which screwed the rest of us normal use people.

    • Kyle says:

      I completely agree with you and jp. This is why we can’t have nice things. THIS, is why I pay $45 a month for an unlimited enterprise plan, but AT&T wants me to switch to paying $45 a month for a plan with a 4GB cap. This BULL* and I think something needs to be done. AT&T probably saw this one guys bill, and in turn screwed us all. By switching the data plans, they made some changes to the network Which caused crappy, spotty service for the rest of us data users and got us to where we are now. Still crappy service, and caps on our data plans. Hell, I’m scared to even TRY and mess with my account anymore in fear of unwanted charges. All I do, is pay my $100 every month and be done with it. And you’re right, this man is crazy. I work for an honest living, and I pay for an unlimited data plan, and another $150 a month for a high-speed connection at home. What’s so hard about that? Grow up, stop being such a little girl about paying for an ISP for internet services. You’d be better off paying them anyway because of the speeds they can offer. AT&T can’t offer that. I’m done ranting now.

      • gilou says:

        Hi, I live outside the US, I pay 50 $ for high speed internet access at home, it includes free phone calls. Is there such equivalent in the US and if yes at what price please?

        • BIGG Evans says:

          I live in Idaho and I pay 45 bucks a month for 50 gb internet. I pay 100 bucks to have my iphone and 90% of the time that I need to use that for anything I am in a wifi hotspot. It is way cheaper to have home internet than a phone that doesn’t produce anywhere near the speed I get at home

  30. jbomb says:

    AT&T is yet another example of the corporate greed that pervades the global conglomerates. I have one Internet connection: my unlimited AT&T data plan which I’ve had for years now. Where do these greedy public fleecers get off charging the little guy more money (significantly in my case) for a 4GB data cap? I use MyWi for literally everything. I don’t have cable or satellite or broadband. Everything is connected via my iPhone tethered to my home network which consists of: 3 pc’s, two ps3’s & an xbox (2 PSN & 1 Live account), 2 iphones, an iPad, and lots of Internet movies and tv streamed to 2 large HDTV’s. As u might conclude, my household uses A LOT more than 4GB a month. Which is why I opted for the unlimited plan from the beginning, so I could use as much data as I wanted without overage fees. Unlimited data means unlimited data, does it not AT&T? Whether I use 15GB via iPhone or via Netflix on PS Network, it’s still MY unlimited plan, and none of att’s concern. I will most definitely leave AT&T if they switch my data plan. Besides the fact that I simply can’t afford it, it’s a matter of principle that AT&T would downgrade my plan and charge me more, without permission, in order to squeeze more $ out of me.

    • Lulu says:


      To be realistic and fair, it is AT&T’s network. Your 7 semi’s worth of traffic on the network are paying a sedan’s toll. Was a good wild ride while it lasted though… Check your data plans original terms and’re in serious violation, probably a huge ticket in your future.

      • Iamhere says:

        True but, do you understand that unlimited by definition is the same as unlimited?? I have paid over $120 a month for AT&T’s horrible phone service and now they want to double charge for something I already pay for.

        If I pay for power at my house and run an extension cord to my carport would the power company charge me twice for the same usage? I think not…!

        • kfrm96744 says:

          True too; but to Lulu’s point, I don’t think it was about total bit consumption. I think the point was bandwidth at any given moment. Using the water company analogy again, it would be like–not only adding one hose–but say fifty hoses, all at full-blast, to fill your pool or something. This adversely affects your neighborhood’s water pressure; yet you aren’t getting charged for more consumption, but more throughput.

          I’m not defending AT&T–’cause I don’t agree with their decisions either–but I am just relating Lulu’s point.

        • oi12bu says:

          The power company doesn’t offer flat rates, so let’s look at your analogy in a different way. Say you’re renting out a room in your house for a flat fee with utilities included and they start plugging in their Nissan Leaf, substantially raising your electrical bill. Would you not raise their rent to cover the additional cost you are now incurring?

          I would love my unlimited data plan to tether for free so I could keep my phone plugged in 24/7 and fill my hard drive with torrents, but I can see that AT&T is worried about exactly that.

      • Lotto says:

        Sorry, there is no Semi. Your phone internet connection runs at 80kbps. That’s not much faster than a $10 modem. It wouldn’t matter if you tethered a mainframe to it, it still runs at the same 80kbps. Unlimited is unlimited. It’s my 80kbps and I’ll do with it what I want.

    • jp says:

      This is why we can’t have nice things.

    • JuJu says:

      So the guy who can afford “3 pc’s, two ps3′s & an xbox (2 PSN & 1 Live account), 2 iphones, an iPad” can’t afford $20 more a month?

      I mean really some people occasionally use the ATT tether and they are getting the letters… a guy who completely hogs the system is not someone I feel sorry for…

  31. Joe says:

    I have a dream.. Ideally AT&T would charge $5 per day of use for tethering, with a $20/month max. That way they would capture the casual user stuck at the airport once a month. Those users are never signing up for the full recurring monthly plan, so it would be win-win.

  32. Chiemara says:

    I’m grandfathered into unlimited data/Internet.

    Wireless companies are double dipping for services already provided by charging twice for those services.

    It costs no more extra to provide tethering.
    The iphone OS update added the feature but did not change hardware.

    Older smartphones could tether so the infrastructure was already in place and working before iPhone.

    I’m a computer consultant/ IT professional with my own business and a self-taught engineer with a patent under my belt. They aren’t fooling me.

    What is the difference if I stream 8gb of data/Internet per month from my phone or stream 8gb of data/Internet through my phone from another device tethered to my phone? The difference is they aren’t getting the opportunity to charge extra and force you to change your grandfathered plan to a ridiculous capped plan which is more expensive but the same infrastructure with the same throughput.

    An analogy would be the water company charging extra if you hooked up a hose to water your backyard. You already pay for the water delivery to your house.

  33. sm says:

    Does the tethering charge apply if you use bluetooth or USB for tethering or is it only wifi tethering that is affected.

    • bluetooth user says:

      I used a bluetooth to tether my samsung flight II, a non-smartphone. I got the same exact letter that smartphone users are getting. I don’t think its right they want to charge me a smartphone plan when i don’t even own a smartphone.

  34. James says:

    Where is this $20 figure coming from? The other article and AT&T’s website seem to indicate $45.

    Droids are nice but I like my iPhone 4 better – especially as a Mac guy. Plus, I’ve dropped enough $$ on apps that I wouldn’t want to rebuy for Droid.

    I’m fairly sure I will switch to Verizon next year when my contract is up. Assuming they still allow free tethering.

    • jimlat says:

      Verizon tethering is $20 per month as well, not free…

    • Dave says:

      It’s $20 on top of the data plan, so the $45 you see on their website is the $25 data plan + $20 for tethering.

      • James says:

        Ah… ok. Thanks for the explanation. I agree, if you are paying for data, you should be able to use it however you like (minus broadcasting a hotspot for other people to use – that may be pushing it). But, at least I know the worst case scenario is I lose my unlimited data & pay $20/mo more.

        • Mark says:

          Actually now I’m hearing that the worst case scenario is AT&T sends a 300lb inmate from pelican bay to beat you mercilessy and smash your iPhone that has no warranty.

  35. DistortedLoop says:

    Just one more reason to dump both AT&T and the iPhone…I recently switched to Verizon and an Android phone with no regrets.

    But to answer the last question in the post: we already pay for unlimited data…data is data…a bit is a bit, it’s none of their business what the final destination of the bits is…there’s no difference data traffic wise between my streaming audio or youtube video playing on my iPhone or my laptop, so why should I pay more for it?

    • jimlat says:

      My guess is when you tether, you are connecting a laptop or other computer, and they assume you will be using much more data than on the phone itself, thereby straining ATT’s already overloaded and crappy network…

  36. juggernuts says:

    I would HAPPILY pay an additional $20/month if they would just let me keep my unlimited plan. They won’t… so FUU** AT&T!!

  37. James says:

    I barely ever use MyWi. Once in a great while when I’m in a bind at a coffee shop without WiFi or if their WiFi crashes. It’s not worth $20 to me.

    Is there anything wrong with just using MyWi once in a while and hoping/assuming AT&T doesn’t notice? Worst case scenario, they sign me up for the $20 anyway, right?

    • James says:

      Negate the previous message. I just read the other AT&T article. :(

    • Paul says:

      Many people do exactly what you do. While the initial roundup of messages and letters were sent to those who used large amounts of data, we are getting more reports of anyone using MyWi and PDANet with any amounts of data being notified by AT&T. It appears that worst case scenario they just start to charge you an additional $20/month and modify your plan, but remember you lose your unlimited data plan if you have one.

  38. Parakeet says:

    too much of a hassle at this point, i’m just going to cough up the $20 and be done with it

    • Mark says:

      Just cough up the $20 a month huh? So your just gonna bend over and let them rape you whenever they decide they want more money from you?

      • kelley says:

        Agreed..AT&T, i tether and you can SUCK MY BALLS..however..i have an inspire and recently got a text saying i was tethering

        • kelley says:

          its my data..i will use it as i please

          • Matt says:

            Amen to that! I recently bought an iPad and I have the at&t 2 gig plan- normally I use about 300-400mb- I wanted to tether but they said I had to upgrade to the 5gb plan to tether because I would use a lot more data- I said that makes no sense- the only thing I would be doing on the iPad is Facebook and email so there is no way I would use that much more data- they insisted that I would. I told them that was ridiculous- why would I pay for more data when i don’t even use what I pay for now?

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