iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

Summary: Those who snag the iTether app for iOS that allows sharing a 3G connection with a laptop better be prepared for the tethering police to slap them around.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple
41

Updated: The appearance of the iTether app in the Apple App Store has drawn attention today, as tethering apps don't as a rule make it into the App Store. Whether it will be there long or not, those who buy and use the app better be prepared for their U. S. carrier to retaliate.

I have been warning folks for months that the tethering police, aka carriers, are watching for tethering in the background and taking action when they discover customers doing it without paying for that extra "mobile hotspot" plan. Those plans can be $20 - $30 per month, and I felt confident the carriers were not going to take it lightly when customers bypassed the extra service fee through apps.

The iTether app is just such an app, it allows iOS device owners use the connectivity to supply laptops with free networking. The app's name aptly describes what it does, and won't keep it off the carriers' radars for very long.

Recently, carriers have begun automatically turning on the monthly tethering service charge for customers it determines are doing it without paying. Verizon and AT&T have blocked tethering apps in the app stores on their devices, and most likely Apple will end up doing the same.

As customers, we feel the right to use the mobile broadband services as we see fit, but the reality is much different. We have a contract, and the tethering police can push us around if we violate it. They view us as service thieves if we use apps like iTether to avoid the extra fees, and they are getting testy about it.

Image credit: Flickr user OregonDOT

Updated: As expected, the iTether app has disappeared from the App Store with no word of explanation. I guess Apple has your back with the carriers.

See related coverage:

Topic: Apple

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

Talkback

41 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

    I Pay for X amount of Data on their networks. For them to even try to tell me how i can/cant use that data is absurd. The only reason they care if it's on a 4 inch screen or a 15 inch screen is because they think they can gouge $ from me for it. The bits and bytes are no different. This is up there with the ludicrous overcharging for text messages.
    Phenoum
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @Phenoum
      Then drop the contract and go with a pay as you go schema
      eabyrd1506
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @eabyrd1506
        Thats what I did. I have my htc evo on Boost unlimited with shrinkage. I pay $35 a month unlimited call,text,data,and yup wireless tethering.No contract and $35 a month for all I want off sprints cdma network
        Fletchguy
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @Phenoum
      Spot on point you make. You'd think the carriers would like you to use tethering and over use your allotted data amount so they could gouge your for the overrun!
      STAN113
  • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

    j
    msechea
  • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

    James, how exactly can the carriers tell? aren't these tethering apps acting as routers issuing non-routable IP addresses to whatever devices are tethering to it? surely there is a way to mask this from the carrier. perhaps generating a VPN tunnel to a secure proxy server and sending and receiving the data through the tunnel.
    Rorschach256
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @Rorschach256
      If you were using 200 MB a month and your usage suddenly jumped up to several gigabytes, they'd probably notice and assume that you were tethering.
      duckwithnukes
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @Rorschach256 AT&T claims it can tell without looking at data usage jumps, and have shut tethers down in the past based on however they do it.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @JamesKendrick
        hello???i don't like you
        Ferrero10
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @Rorschach256 Without VPN: A little packet inspection would be all it takes. A web request with the User Agent string that's not Safari (or perhaps, IS Internet Explorer) would raise a flag. Windows 7 phoning home to check for updates. And so on and so on.

      And with VPN? Well, the VPN itself could be the flag.
      RoverDaddy
  • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

    Guys,

    You need to live by the terms of contracts you sign and not demonize the carriers for enforcing those terms. If you don't like the terms of the contract, then don't sign the contract.
    eabyrd1506
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @eabyrd1506 I know, right? Because the monthly raping of the American phone bill is causing their kids to go hungry. They deserve the extra $40 on top of the $100 per month they are already charging for phone service and obligatory data caps.
      thoiness
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @thoiness
        Give me a break, you sound like an occupier type. They have too much, give me some. My 5 year old has more dignity than to whine like that. They deserve whatever they can price their service at. If you sign a contract that contains terms, then you are obligated to stand by them. If you don't like the terms don't enter into the contract.
        eabyrd1506
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @thoiness
        I just re-read this. Did you really say that it's the phone company's fault that you chose to have a $100.00 cell phone bill rather than to feed your children. Wow, is this what our society is breeding now. Maybe the Wilkow and Beck are right and I should be getting prepared for the zombies.
        eabyrd1506
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @eabyrd1506 Are you mentally impaired, or do you just like to make crap up about what people said? READ and COMPREHEND. Two basics in having a conversation. What I'm saying is:<br><br>It's not like the crooks in the phone industry's kids are going hungry with the $100 per month we pay their butts.<br><br>Hey, take your preaching to church, and send your $200 bacon payment to whomever you want. I'll just "fix" my Android and get (almost, but still short of) my money's worth out of these people.<br><br>It's people like you that encourage the gouging and make what is happening today in the Cable and Phone industry acceptable. Makes me sick. You bend over and take it, no matter what they shovel you full of (and we all know what that is).

        Oh wait... My bad... This is the blog about APPLE users. I should have known better.
        thoiness
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @thoiness [b]Oh wait... My bad... This is the blog about APPLE users. I should have known better.[/b]

        Well not to point out the obvious but the headline IS "[i]iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon[/i]" so in a way yeah this article IS about Apple users.

        However

        An iPhone can also be "fixed" to get one's moneys worth from a data plan and it's because of this whole charging extra for tethering while not coming up with an extra data usage bucket for tethering that I'm considering going prepaid when my contract is up.
        athynz
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @Pete "athynz" Athens Yeah, I know... I was just being snarky. That's exactly it... They expect you to pay more which equates to less bang for your buck. On the odd times I actually need to tether (very rare), I'm not forking the minimum of $40 extra per month. Nor would I consider getting a 3G card and forking $70 either. <br><br>Cable and phone companies get MORE than enough of our hard earned money, and too many people are eager to roll over and die for them. Their gouging knows no bounds. Why is that? Because the American public rolls over for them. <br><br>When companies start to gouge, the hacker community increases. We saw this with Microsoft and their $300 copies of Windows, now we're seeing it in the phone industry. eabyrd can shell his $200 and stand on his perch, but I won't stand for it personally. 2 year contracts, rate increases every year, caps and plan decreases every year. Meanwhile, most of the phones we use don't even work well as PHONES!
        thoiness
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        Pete "athynz" Athens
        Thats the correct tact. One that doesn't reduce your integrity. It stands in stark contrast to the childish my rights, my stuff, tehy have too much so I'll just steal what I want from them whining of @thoiness
        eabyrd1506
    • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

      @eabyrd1506 And before you tell me that we have a choice, go compare the different phone plans from the different carriers and tell me that with a straight face.
      thoiness
      • RE: iTether for the iPhone: the tethering police will catch it soon

        @thoiness

        You have the choice to not participate. As I do
        eabyrd1506