Verizon has pushed an over-the-air (OTA) update to the HTC Thunderbolt that disables the hotspot feature previously capable on the phones. Big Red had been providing tethering, the ability to use the phone as a connection to the web via tethering over Wi-Fi, free as part of a special promotion. The freebie has ended and Verizon's update to the Thunderbolt disables the hotspot capability that is integrated in Android.
You shouldn't be surprised, I warned that the tethering police were coming when AT&T started notifying customers it detected using phones as hotspots without subscribing to the paid service that they would start being charged. I sounded the warning gong again when Verizon made Google remove tethering apps from the Android Market, as they facilitated free hotspot usage. The current move by Verizon to alter the smartphone software to disable unpaid hotspot use is simply the next step in the program for all U. S. carriers to get serious about making customers pay up or shut down the tethering.
This move by Big Red follows the ending of unlimited smartphone data plans for new customers. It paves the way to get all smartphone owners paying for a certain amount of data usage each month, while tacking on an extra fee for mobile hotspot service, commonly known as tethering. Verizon may be the first carrier to disable the ability to use Android's integrated hotspot capability, but I can bet it won't be the last After all, the carriers always know exactly where to find your smartphone, to an accuracy of a few feet.
Image credit: Flickr user OregonDOT
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