Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

Summary: Verizon has pushed an over-the-air (OTA) update to the HTC Thunderbolt that disables the hotspot feature previously possible on the phones.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Verizon, Wi-Fi
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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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Topics: Mobility, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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21 comments
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  • i gave up

    this tethering, paying extra money for extra data when i'm not using my full data, is bogus. so i dropped my cell/data plan.

    i carry a mifi, use line2 and don't plan on going back.
    unlimited calls to us and canada, unlimited texting and can use the mifi on all my devices.

    line2 has been rock solid, good voice (granted, i'm not the best judge of that being deaf in one ear and not hearing that well in the other). no delays when talking as with some other voips i've tried.
    sportmac
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    It's ironic that carriers in the US complain about not getting the revenue for the services some people use freely, yet when the argument goes back to people WANTING to pay for something the carriers refuse to offer, the carriers then shut up or begin making lousy excuses.

    It doesn't take a wizard to realize why people are tethering - the technology/demand is there. But with carriers imposing data caps and overage charges the only way they can get around it is by doing it illegally.

    I think if carriers want to successfully curb illegal tethering, they're going to have to first find a way where consumers can do it "legally". Carriers need to provide a service/incentive that deters the illegal practice in the first place. A 5GB cap at $70 doesn't cut it.
    lgpOnTheMove
    • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

      @lgpOnTheMove Verizon has legal tethering though... You just have to pay for it.
      snoop0x7b
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        Yeah by paying out the_ass for it. Especially when you already paid for the data initially.
        blind obedience
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    @lgpOnTheMove Tethering is Illegal???? Hmmm, I didn't see that bit of legislation come across the local, state or federal house or senate... Saying that something is Illegal implies that it is something that is codified into law.

    The carriers just don't want you to do it, because it means less money for them. They are greedy and want to soak the public for everything they can, to that end they will make it sound like that activity is "Illegal" and breaks some law imposed by our law makers.

    The simple fact is.. The public tethering apps make use of the core Linux networking feature, which are also present in Windows, to "NAT" (Network Address Translation) connections and make it look like they are coming directly from the smart phone, not another device. It uses the same bandwidth that your already paying for to do this. It is the same technology that is used by your <insert favorite router brand> router that you use at the office or home.

    Paying for tethering, and paying for phone bandwidth is double dipping, your already paying for the bandwidth with your plan, you use that same bandwidth when you tether other devices.

    I have to submit that what the carriers are doing are double charging consumers for the products they are already paying for, in effect, they are defrauding their customers. Any other company that double charges their customer then places a stamp on the bill and mails it gets busted for postal fraud... Of course, I am not an lawyer, so.. I could be off base.

    Just my $0.02 worth..
    jason.lambert
    • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

      @jason.lambert Your reading comprehension could use some work, since you clearly did not parse correctly his use of <b><i>QUOTES</i></b> on the word "legally." In this case he obviously meant "within the terms of the contract between the user and his carrier."
      The One True Fnerd
    • &quot;Illegal&quot;

      @jason.lambert and @The_One_True_Fnerd
      I would say that you should both look at the contracts.
      If there is a clause that prohibits connection sharing, or that specifies a charge for doing so, then tethering IS in fact illegal in all senses of the word, i.e. it violates your contract which is a legal document.

      If, on the other hand, there is no such clause then it is not illegal, and the carriers are simply trying to increase profits.

      I will have to disagree with Jason about it being double billing, however. While it IS greedy, the technicality that they are basing it on is that data from a device other than the one that is contracted with them is going thru thier network.
      VBJackson
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        @VBJackson: Your logic would make the use of a bluetooth headset "illegal" since the data (packetized voice) didn't originate from the contracted device.
        brichter
      • The cost to the carrier is usage, not the number of devices

        @VBJackson They should only be billing based on data usage, not the number of devices. It's true that with tethering, it is easier to use more data, but then your bill should increase based on the amount of data you consume.
        otaddy
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        @VBJackson Isn't this misuse of the word "illegal"?
        Shouldn't the correct description be "breach of contract"?
        Cmd_Line_Dino
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    This why rooting is the only way to go these days. Why pay for data twice? I sure won't. Sprint may not be the best company out there but at least they've still got unlimited data (knock on wood).
    razorsyntax
    • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

      @razorsyntax
      The root tether is what they are disabling so even the root won't work one they start implimenting the rule. The update shuts the linux ability down root just let you unlock it free but they can stop it from working. I use my evo on sprint and now pay 435 a month unlimited everything data talk text gps all of it and I am rooted and use my tether for my Galaxy tab. verizon might be shooting themselves in the foot and I do hope Sprint boost do not follow as the fastest growing market is the no contract prepaid unlimited plans such as boost or virgin mobile.
      Fletchguy
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        @Fletchguy Once you've rooted the device you can install whatever firmware you want on it regardless of Verizon's updates, and then use USB debugging to emulate a network card.
        snoop0x7b
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        @snoop0x7b: You don't need root to use USB debugging, that's why apps like EasyTether and PDANet are so popular .
        brichter
      • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

        [i]I use my evo on sprint and now pay 435 a month unlimited everything data talk text gps all of it and I am rooted and use my tether for my Galaxy tab.[/i]

        Am I reading this right? You pay $435 per month?

        LOL I just can't see this happening and somebody willing to do this. Not without a corporate account or rebate to pay for it.
        blind obedience
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    It seems that the time has come for a massive assault on cell phones. Yes, they are hard to get into because the carrier locks them down but it can be done. Buy a data/power cable and have at it. What are the carriers gong to do, shut down their networks?
    WCarlS
  • surprise, surprise, surprise....

    Every bit, every foot, every second.

    Meet the new boss......................
    semi-adult
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    My data, my usage. I pay for it and I can use it how I see fit.
    brichter
  • RE: Verizon tethering police reach into your phone and disable the hotspot

    When Verizon recently acquired a new section of the bandwidth spectrum from the US government, part of their contract included that they could not limit what devices were able to use this spectrum. They are currently being sued on our behalf, but if we don't complain to our representatives, they may walk with a sweetheart deal.
    ALISON SMOCK
    • Your representatives got a sweetheart deal

      @ALISON SMOCK The carriers paid big $$ for the spectrum. Where did all that money go?
      otaddy