How Does AT&T Know you are Tethering???
For the past couple of months, AT&T has increased its efforts to stop illegal tethering. The problem arises when users with jailbroken iPhones attempt to tether their phones without AT&T’s knowledge. For the most part, heavy users receive text messages stating to stop tethering illegally or else… “AT&T Free Msg: We’ve noticed you’re continuing to enjoy the tethering feature with your smartphone service. Remember, you need a tethering plan ($45/mo, incl. 4GB) to use this feature, so we’re planning to update your line with the required plan soon.”
Since sending out the first “warning” text message, jailbroken iPhone users and websites are trying to figure out how AT&T knows you are tethering illegally and/or through unauthorized applications. David Ruddock at Android Police, has done some research to figure out the process AT&T takes to differentiate illegal tetherers from those who pay for the service. According to the article, most jailbroken apps such as MyWi and TetherMe utilize the same software already installed on iPhone’s iOS. These apps send all tethered data traffic through AT&T’s alternate APN specifically designated for tethering. Since all tethered data (both illegal and legal) is routed through this alternate APN, AT&T only needs to match-up the users with registered tethered data plans versus those who are not registered and send out the text message.
AT&T’s issue with illegal tethering is most likely two-fold. First, it is widely speculated that a small percentage of data users are the ones responsible for the bandwidth issues AT&T experiences. In order to combat a slower network, they force people to pay for the usage and any overages. Makes sense. Secondly, they just want to make money. If an iPhone user is on a 2GB plan, what does it matter how that 2GB gets used? Whether the user burns it up tethering their iPhone and downloading a movie or casually browses the web, they are still using just the 2GB…go over that and pay extra. Maybe AT&T worries about the rate of data consumption…who knows, but let’s be honest, they just want to make more money.
The Android Police article goes further in depth to suggest AT&T does not and will not target Android users. Again, referencing the APN, Android Police believe the tethered data for Android phones uses the same APN as “normal” untethered data. In other words, AT&T has no way of knowing what data is downloaded to a user’s phone. As speculated earlier in our previous article, AT&T would need to analyze the data packets going through the network to each iPhone and Android tethered device. Personally, I do not believe this would be all that difficult, but Androidpolice do not believe AT&T will put out the effort not the money to analyze data packets.
But always remember, as Android phones grow and news of this nature becomes more public, AT&T will put more interest into both saving and making money on all its supported devices. In the end, iPhone and Android users alike are just trying to save a buck or two. Is it really fair to charge someone extra for a data service already paid for in their plan?
- AT&T Putting a Stop to Illegal and Unauthorized Tethering
- Rumors: White iPhone 4 coming to T-Mobile?
- Sn0wbreeze 2.3 Unlock for iOS 4.3 not all its Cracked Up to Be
- Stream HBO GO to your iPhone, iPad, or Android Device
- ESPN Live Streams Now Available on Android