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Still Unofficially Tethering Your Phone? You Will Lose Your Unlimited Data Plan, Says AT&T

Phillip Dampier August 4, 2011 AT&T, Consumer News, Internet Overcharging, Wireless Broadband 4 Comments

AT&T is keeping the pressure on their grandfathered unlimited data plan customers.  Earlier today, AT&T confirmed rumors they are prepared to revoke customers’ unlimited usage plans if they are caught tethering their phones without an authorized tethering and mobile hotspot plan purchased directly from the company.  BGR quotes an AT&T spokesperson:

Earlier this year, we began sending letters, emails, and text messages to a small number of smartphone customers who use their devices for tethering but aren’t on our required tethering plan. Our goal here is fairness for all of our customers. (This impacts a only small percentage of our smartphone customer base.)

The letters outline three choices:

  1. Stop tethering and keep their current plan (including grandfathered unlimited plan)
  2. Proactively call AT&T or visit our stores and move to the required tethering plan
  3. Do nothing and we’ll go ahead and add the tethering plan on their behalf — after the date noted in their customer notification.

An AT&T customer told 9to5 Mac he was threatened with the unilateral loss of his unlimited data plan if he was still unofficially tethering his phone after Aug. 11th, a date AT&T has since said may not be everyone’s “cutoff date”:

I was just informed that as of Thursday, August 11th, if you use MyWi or any tethering on the phone or using the phone as a modem, AT&T will automatically change your unlimited plan to a 2GB tethering plan for 45 dollars without the customer’s consent. This is for those who received emails or texts about the use of tethering without an AT&T tethering plan.

It’s clear AT&T is going hard line on their unlimited data plan customers, first sending notice they will throttle the speeds of any customer on an unlimited plan deemed a “heavy user,” and now threatening to terminate unlimited usage plans for customers who violate the company’s tethering terms and conditions.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Duffin says:

    So, let’s see here…AT&T has grandfathered customers with unlimited plans. So, they announce that they will put a cap on an arbitrary top 5%. And they will also adversely change your data plan to a higher price for less data if you do something they don’t like. Why does anyone stay with this company, again? If I were one of those grandfathered people, I would be immediately cancelling my AT&T plan and making sure they knew exactly why I was doing so. Just ridiculous…

    And to think, it may only be a matter of time before AT&T becomes the ONLY GSM carrier in this country. Scary.

  2. TK says:

    The data cap limbo dance really illustrates the greed the cell companies have come to in an age of rising network speeds. Why do the caps get lower while the speeds get higher? How low will the bar go?….

    This shows that AT&T’s idea of grandfathering falls short of how T-Mobile grandfathers ancient plans without caps or tethering bans for years (such as Total Internet and TZones for customers who last contracted before June 2008 and are still on 2004 t&Cs)

    If the government requires AT&T to grandfather TMobile users, will the supervising regulators study the history of TMobile plans close enough to ensure AT&T grandfathers all of them accurately?

    This last point is very important for TMobile users who are allowed to tether on their grandfathered plans.

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  • Ernesto Honez: Was that a confirmed and signed "contract"? Was it verbal? Was it sent out in a letter as bulk mailing, or with a first class stamp? Was it's delivery...
  • Matt: I just got off the phone with AT&T. I called saying that I found a promotion through Time Warner for $34.99 for 15 mbps and I am trying to cut dow...
  • Phillip Dampier: It first went to a handful of test markets in upstate New York (not Rochester) and then has been redesignated as a feature enhancement in Maxx markets...
  • Steve Rea: Any idea when the new DVR is coming to Rochester? I remember a story you posed over 2 years ago from the CEO of TWC at the time! saying it was comi...
  • AustinTX: James, my suggestion would be to switch to TWC rental modems, and fry 2-3 of them over the course of several weeks by running 24v AC into the coax con...
  • Dragos: For 1Gbps in Romania we pay around 12 EUR (VAT included - 24%). http://www.rcs-rds.ro/internet-digi-net/fiberlink?t=internet-fix&pachet=digi_ne...
  • James R Curry: Hey, Phillip - While not related to Comcast directly -- I rent my modem from TWC, and while I'd rather buy one outright, there's one big factor ...
  • Sean: I believe that there are issues intermixing DOSCIS 2/3 modems on a node. It's been about 5 years since I've worked with a CMTS so I am by no means an...
  • AustinTX: Yep, this isn't about "your old modem isn't capable of the wonderful new speeds we're providing to your service tier", it's about "we know your custom...
  • MJ Lee: This is strange. I did get a letter from Time Warner saying my apartment was qualified for Time Warner Cable Maxx, but when I applied for it, I got an...
  • Tim: You know this is overstating the case ... unlimited data adsl2 plans are available from $60 in Australia. Average price is about $90...
  • Phillip Dampier: I think 10/Gbps is available in the USA as well, on an obscenely expensive metro Ethernet or commercial fiber link provisioned by a telecom company. ...

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