Are some T-Mobile users about to lose their free tethering? I’m bringing attention to the question because I’m still not entirely sure about the answer. According to some recent comments from a T-Mobile spokesperson, it’s looking more and more like that could be the case.
Back in the early days of Android you couldn’t tether your phone unless you hacked it. This was one of the main reasons I got into rooting my phones, but then Google finally added native tethering support to Android 2.2.
Many Nexus One owners who have service with T-Mobile have been taking advantage of free tethering ever since. You just go into your wireless settings and click a check box to turn it on. Thanks to today’s OTA update, the T-Mobile G2 also has that feature. This means that either phone can do free wireless tethering out of the box with no modifications or hacks.
T-Mobile was the only major carrier that didn’t have a tethering add-on plan, while most others charged $25-30 per month. It was always against T-Mobile’s terms and conditions to tether, but they never cracked down on people who were using it (and not abusing it).
The T-Mobile T&Cs specifically states, “Unless explicitly permitted by your Data Plan, other uses, including for example, using your Device as a modem or tethering your Device to a personal computer or other hardware, are not permitted.”
Starting today, things could be changing. T-Mobile just announced their Tethering and Wi-Fi Sharing service plan, which they will be charging $14.99 per month.
When I asked T-Mobile how this affects current G2 and Nexus One owners, I received the following response from a company spokesperson.
T-Mobile does not currently support handset tethering and Wi-Fi sharing or offer a tethering rate plan. Beginning this holiday season, T-Mobile will offer a Tethering and Wi-Fi Sharing service plan that lets customers use their G2 as wireless modem for connecting laptops and other devices to the internet through the T-Mobile network. Customers will be able to add the Tethering and Wi-Fi Sharing plan to their Web — Unlimited $30/monthly plan for an additional $14.99 per month.T-Mobile spokesperson
As you can see it was not the clear answer I was looking for so I exchanged a couple more emails trying to see if T-Mobile was going to crack down on people who are not explicitly paying for tethering.
After some back and forth, the T-Mobile spokesperson said, “They will need to sign up for the tethering plan when it becomes available if they would like to use the tethering service.”
So whether you like it or not, it does appear that T-Mobile will attempt to start charging for the free tethering that many have enjoyed on their Nexus One and G2 phones. I’m not sure how they will technically enforce the rule, but I guess we will find out soon.
Do I agree with T-Mobile’s policy? No, but all the other carriers do it the same way now. In a perfect world, the carrier would just give me my bucket of data I paid for and let me use it on whatever I want (without trying to charge me twice).
What do you think T-Mobile should do? Are you ok with paying $14.99 per month to tether your Android phone?