BUSTED! AT&T begins crackdown on iPhone jailbreakers using MyWi tethering

Summary:Now that Apple is offering iPhone users a way to legitimately get WiFi tethering through using the new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3, it seems that AT&T has begun a clampdown on those running the MyFi app on jailbroken iPhone handsets.

Now that Apple is offering iPhone users a way to legitimately get WiFi tethering through using the new Personal Hotspot feature in iOS 4.3, it seems that AT&T has begun a clampdown on those running the MyWi app on jailbroken iPhone handsets.

[UPDATE: Think that the data allowance that comes with your data plan is yours to do with as you wish? Think again!]

Some MyWi users have been hit with text messages and emails.

Here's an example of the text message:

"AT&T Free Msg: Did you know tethering your Smartphone to a computer requires a tethering plan? Pls call 888-860-6789 for details or visit att.com/dataplans."

Here's the follow-up email:

Dear [Customer],

We've noticed your service plan may need updating.

Many AT&T customers use their smartphones as a broadband connection for other devices, like laptops, netbooks or other smartphones- a practice commonly known as tethering. Tethering can be an efficient way for our customers to enjoy the benefits of AT&T's mobile broadband network and use more than one device to stay in touch with important people and information. To take advantage of this feature, we require that in addition to a data plan, you also have a tethering plan.

Our records show that you use this capability, but are not subscribed to our tethering plan.

If you would like to continue tethering, please log into your account online at Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans - Wireless from AT&T, or call us at 1-888-860-6789 Monday - Friday, 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. CST or Saturday, 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. CST, by March 27, 2011 to sign up for DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering. Here are details on the plan:

DataPro 4GB for Smartphone Tethering • $45 per month (this gives you 4GB in total, combining both your smartphone data plan for $25 and the tethering feature, $20) • $10 per each additional GB thereafter, added automatically as needed • Mobile Hotspot capabilities are included for compatible Smartphones

If we don't hear from you, we'll plan to automatically enroll you into DataPro 4GB afterMarch 27, 2011. The new plan - whether you sign up on your own or we automatically enroll you - will replace your current smartphone data plan, including if you are on an unlimited data plan.

If you discontinue tethering, no changes to your current plan will be required.

It's easy to track your usage throughout the month so there are no bill surprises. For example, we send you free text messages when you reach 65, 90, and 100 percent of your plan's threshold. If you would like to monitor your account more closely, go to www.att.com/dataplans to learn about other ways to track your data usage.

As a reminder, our smartphone data plans also include unlimited usage of Wi-Fi at no additional charge. AT&T smartphone customers can use Wi-Fi at home or on-the-go at any one of our more than 23,000 U.S. hotspots already included in your data plan.

Thank you for bringing your account up to date. We appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve your mobile broadband needs.

Sincerely,

AT&T

BUSTED!

Bottom line is that users who have enabled tethering on their iPhone sing any feature other than the Personal Hotspot feature are breaking AT&T's terms of service, and now that AT&T has a plan, it's trawling for users who are already using the service but not paying for it.

But how are they spotting MyWi users? Three possibilities:

  • Network saturation
  • User agent IDs
  • Excessive data usage

However AT&T is going about this, it's clear that the company is taking its network back from those who it considers to be freeloading.

Any readers had similar messages from AT&T? Anyone not using a tethering solution had the finger pointed at them?

Topics: AT&T, Apple, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.