Some AT&T customers are getting emails and text messages today indicating the end of the free tethering party. Users of iPhone tethering apps that circumvent the paid option from the carrier are being told to upgrade their plans. AT&T requires a $45 data plan that offers 4GB of data and tethering for thoise that want to use data on other devices. But of course, the messages they sent out were polite as could be.
AT&T caused quite a ruckus when they switched from unlimited data plans to a 2GB cap last summer. The nation's second largest carrier has shied away from adding Wi-Fi hotspot to its devices, so users were less likely to run out of bits. But now, the upcoming Inspire 4G will ship with AT&T's hotspot app installed. Customers won't have to worry about sharing those measly 2GB between all devices. Those that subscribe to the tethering plan will get an additional bucket of 2GB for a total of 4GB.
Users will first have to have the $25 Data Pro plan for 2GB of data, then add the tethering plan for an additional 2GB. So you're paying $45 each month for 4GB of data that you can share with the Wi-Fi hotspot. This is far from an ideal scenario. We would have liked to see tethering included and a higher cap to start with. Still, for those that need the hotspot functionality, the extra data will offer some breathing room.
We're barely into November and the holiday deals are already starting to roll in. Kicking things off is T-Mobile, which on Monday announced a handful of new products and services the wireless carrier ho-ho-hopes will lead to a jolly sales rush.
Starting November 3, T-Mobile plans to sell a handful of new Android smartphones for less than $100 each. These include the T-Mobile Comet, LG Optimus T, Motorola Defy with Motoblur, and Motorola Charm (also with Motoblur).
"We're heading into this holiday season with our strongest and most affordable lineup ever of Android-powered smartphones," said Cole Brodman, chief marketing office, T-Mobile USA. "Combine that with low-cost data service plans and even easier ways to give T-Mobile products as gifts, and we believe families will make the move to smartphones -- enriching how they communicate in the new year."
None of these smartphones are going to challenge the iPhone or Samsung's Galaxy S in the high-end space, though the Defy does come with an 800MHz processor and 3.7-inch touchscreen. Otherwise, clockspeeds range from 528MHz (Comet) to 600MHz (Optimus T and Charm).
T-Mobile also plans to sell tethering and Wi-Fi sharing service, a $15 add-on to T-Mobile's existing $30/month unlimited data plan.
T-Mobile USA is apparently about to debut a tethering and Wi-Fi sharing add-on for smartphone users. The plan will be available on November 3, and will run you $14.99 per month. That's less than most other carriers are charging right now, but the data you use will count towards your 5GB cap. To be eligible for the add-on, your must have a 3G phone and a data plan of $19.95 or greater.
It is still unclear how T-Mobile will be implementing the feature. It really sounds like they are only selling you the contractual right to tether, not the means to do so. No official T-Mobile phones come with tethering built in. The upcoming new MyTouch may have an app pre-installed, but that doesn't do much good for other users. "The set-up process will be determined by the type of device customers own and will be different for every manufacturer," reads the leaked document.
The leak also indicates that T-Mobile will be sending a message to people tethering without authorization. Considering many T-Mobile Android users are taking advantage of tethering apps, we aren't sure how they could know who is tethering. It would all look like data to them. Stay tuned for updates on this one folks.
The current state of the mobile market, contrary to what some tech commenters might be opining, is anything but ponies and roses. It's a lot like coming home from a hard day of work and finding out that your toilet is leaking--leaking all over your floor, that is. You don't really have the tools to fix it, but you do have a healthy amount of duct tape sitting around.
AT&T's announcement that it's eliminating the unlimited data plans for iPhone and iPad owners is but the black, sticky tape covering up a greater disaster underneath. But that's not what the various Internet commenters would have you believe. To them, the charitable AT&T has graciously swooped down to lower everyone's monthly data fees since so very, very few people will ever push past its first-tier pricing scheme of $25 per month for two gigabytes of data.
This is not some charitable reduction that saves 98 percent of AT&T's user base an extra $5 a month. If you believe that, then by all means, let the carrier come marching right up to your front door with a new contract and a shiny golden ticket to Wonka's candy factory. Because that, sir or ma'am, is just the level of delusion we're talking about.
Bits of information have been leaking out about Google's next iteration of the Android platform with increasing regularity as we near the Google I/O event. Today we've gotten perhaps the tastiest tidbit yet. According to TechCrunch, Android 2.2 (codenamed Froyo) will have tethering and Wi-Fi hotspot functionality built in. This would be the first modern smartphone platform to integrate these abilities natively, without carrier support.
Some phones, like the Palm Pre Plus and HTC EVO 4G (and costs extra for the EVO), are shipping with specialized apps for sharing their mobile connection over Wi-Fi, but these solutions are developed with the blessing of carriers. It's unclear if carriers would be able to disable this functionality or require a fee, without using a non-standard build of the Android OS. In the screen shots we can clearly see options for both standard tethering, and Wi-Fi hotspot tethering.
Google clearly sees this a differentiator in the US market where the iPhone still lack any tethering options at all. We are definitely looking forward to hearing more about this feature when Froyo is announced.